Artist News Business News Legal

Appeals court upholds ruling in Courtney Love tweet-libel case

By | Published on Tuesday 2 February 2016

Courtney Love

A Californian appeals court has upheld a 2014 ruling that said Courtney Love had not defamed her former attorney Rhonda Holmes via an angry tweet posted in 2009.

As previously reported, Holmes worked for Love at a time when the singer believed that the estate of her late husband, Kurt Cobain, was being mismanaged and that various unnamed individuals had stolen assets and posthumous earnings, which should have gone to her and daughter Frances Bean. The attorney investigated those concerns.

The working relationship came to an end somewhat acrimoniously, with Love tweeting “I was fucking devastated when Rhonda J Holmes esq of San Diego was bought off”, implying that the lawyer had done a deal with the people she was meant to be investigating.

Holmes refuted that allegation, and then sued for defamation, claiming her reputation had been harmed by Love’s tweeting. However, the jury hearing that case sided with Love, who told the court that she had meant the offending tweet to be a direct message and not a publicly available statement, and that, anyway, she genuinely believed that Holmes had been “bought off” at the time.

The fact that Love believed that Holmes had been bribed in someway – even though she hadn’t – was key to the singer’s win in the defamation case. The appeal courts has now concurred that the jury was right to reach that conclusion.

Referring to Love as Mrs Cobain, Justice Thomas Whillhite wrote: “We must view the evidence in the light most favourable to Cobain and give her the benefit of every reasonable inference … given Cobain’s repeated testimony that she believed Holmes had been ‘compromised’ or ‘gotten to’, substantial evidence supports the jury’s finding that Holmes did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Cobain knew the statement was false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statement when she made it”.