Artist News Legal

Courtney Love cleared of Twitter defamation

By | Published on Tuesday 28 January 2014

Courtney Love

Courtney Love has been cleared of defaming her former attorney Rhonda Holmes in a 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.

But Love’s working relationship with Holmes came to an end in 2009, after which she tweeted: “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.

Refuting that allegation, Holmes subsequently sued for defamation in 2011, claiming that her reputation had been harmed by her former client’s online outburst. But, after the case eventually reached court last week, it took eight days for a jury to decide that Holmes had failed to make a strong enough case.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Love herself argued that she had intended to send the tweet as a private message, and when she realised she had not, she quickly deleted it. Among the various people to testify was a social media expert who told the court that there was no evidence that the message had been retweeted, thus reducing its impact.

In the case, Love also spoke of the alleged theft of money from the Cobain estate, saying that she had hired Holmes after several other entertainment lawyers failed to help. Holmes apparently uncovered evidence of irregularities, which, Love added, left her feeling “elated, like I wasn’t wearing a tinfoil hat anymore”. But later she and Holmes stopped speaking (Love says she never fired Holmes, Holmes says different), which led her to believe that Holmes had been “bought off”. The fact that Love believed this to be true at the time she sent the tweet was key to her case, and the final verdict.

This is not, of course, the first Twitter-based defamation lawsuit against Love. Fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir also sued in 2009 after the singer called her an “asswipe nasty lying hosebag thief”. They eventually reached a settlement, but in September, Simorangkir sued the singer for defamation a second time, after Love appeared on Howard Stern’s radio show and discussed the case.

According to The Reporter, Simorangkir’s second lawsuit said that, despite Love initially saying in the interview that she’d learned her lesson, she then “in the same breath … blatantly defamed Simorangkir by falsely accusing her of stealing from Love and claiming that this purported theft was captured on closed circuit television videos. Love even went as far as to falsely claim that Simorangkir had engaged in prostitution”.

Making matters worse, Simorangkir says that Love then began posting defamatory messages about her on Pinterest. But at least that means Love knows not to say that stuff on Twitter anymore. Simorangkir is, as you may have guessed, seeking unspecified damages.