James Woods has been given permission to pursue a defamation lawsuit against an anonymous Twitter user, according to a new report. The ‘OK’ was given by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Recana in relation to a complaint filed by Woods against an unknown Twitter user who had tweeted that Woods is a “cocaine addict.” The legal issue has been ongoing for months, and at one point resulted in a letter from a Twitter attorney lambasting the defamation suit as being contrary to First Amendment rights.
The issue revolves around an anonymous Twitter user who tweeted under the name “Abe List”, saying in a tweet, “cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.” The legal complaint alleges the tweet, as well as another, were “the culmination of a malicious online campaign by [Abe List] to discredit and damage Woods’ reputation.”
The complaint sought to unmask Abe List, and was quickly changed by the anonymous user whose attorney has filed an opposition to early discovery. The issue has drummed up discussions about First Amendment rights, with critics saying the lawsuit seeks to infringe upon one’s speech rights. The defendant’s legal team had posited that Abe List’s tweet was a “constitutionally protected political insult.”
Twitter itself has opposed Woods’ legal complaint, having said in a statement back in August that the offending tweet “appears to be opinion and hyperbole rather than a statement of fact.” As of earlier this month, it had appeared the judge would agree and dismiss the lawsuit.
According to a report from the Hollywood Reporter, however, the judge has allegedly changed his mind and has instead denied the motion to strike, potentially setting into motion a precedent setting legal matter. The Hollywood Reporter says it received a copy of the judge’s decision, which allegedly reads:
Applying the totality of circumstances test, and examining the plain language of the Tweet, it is clear that any reader of the AL False Statement could and indeed must view it as a statement of fact. As described by Professor Finegan, AL’s use of a prenomial characterization (i.e. ‘cocaine addict’) followed by a proper noun (i.e., ‘James Woods’) is a well-established linguistic structure widely used to characterize people with shorthand factual information. Prof. Finegan’s opinion that ‘many if not all readers of the “cocaine addict” Tweet will understand and interpret Abe List to be making a factual claim about James Woods — namely that he is a cocaine addict’ is on an issue of fact. His opinion is sufficiently beyond common experience and assists the trier of fact.
SOURCE: Hollywood Reporter