Artist News Legal

Phoebe Bridgers appears in court to request dismissal of defamation lawsuit

By | Published on Friday 12 August 2022

Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers appeared in court in LA yesterday to try to convince a judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought against her by sound engineer Chris Nelson last year.

Nelson sued Bridgers last September claiming that, in October 2020, the musician posted and promoted various defamatory statements against him on Instagram. In her post, Bridgers made a number of allegations of abuse and misconduct against Nelson, as well as directing her followers to his ex-girlfriend’s account on the social platform where further allegations had been made – including that he had murdered a man in a racially motivated attack.

In his lawsuit, Nelson claims that Bridgers “intentionally used her high-profile public platform on Instagram to publish false and defamatory statements … in order to destroy his reputation”.

But she says that she believes the statements she made were true, insisting that they were based on “my personal knowledge, including statements I personally heard Mr Nelson make, as well as my own observations”.

Bridgers is trying to have the defamation lawsuit dismissed by citing anti-SLAPP rules, those being rules designed to stop people limiting the free speech of others through unwarranted litigation.

Although no ruling on the matter was made, Judge Curtis Kin said that he was inclined to grant Bridgers’ motion to dismiss yesterday, according to Courthouse News, adding: “It seems like a he said/she said issue. It’s hard to see, looking at the record, how the plaintiff could show that Ms Bridgers, when making the post, knew her statements to be false or had serious doubts as to whether they were true”.

“It seems it is a matter of public interest”, he went on, saying that by posting the accusations, and making any musicians considering working with Nelson aware of said allegations, Bridgers was “attempting to provide protective consumer information” and “wanting to provide full information to those who are considering working with Mr Nelson”.

Kin also made no decision on a separate motion put forward by Nelson to have a recent deposition by Bridgers unsealed. She was ordered to sit for that deposition in April, despite having previously argued that the request was “nothing more than thinly veiled harassment”.

Nelson’s lawyer Bradford Hughes argued in court that Bridgers admitted in her deposition that she had never actually witnessed Nelson engaging in any of the things she accused him of, despite saying in her posts that she had.

For now, the case continues.