Artist News Legal

Phoebe Bridgers calls deposition request in defamation case “thinly veiled harassment”

By | Published on Monday 21 March 2022

Phoebe Bridgers

As the defamation case brought against Phoebe Bridgers by recording engineer Chris Nelson continues to work its way through the courts, her lawyers have called a deposition request by Nelson’s team “nothing more than thinly veiled harassment”.

In his lawsuit last year, Nelson claimed that, in October 2020, Bridgers made a number of allegations of abuse and misconduct against him on Instagram, while also directing her followers to his ex-girlfriend’s account on the platform where further allegations had been made.

He denies all the claims made against him, and the lawsuit argues that Bridgers “intentionally used her high-profile public platform on Instagram to publish false and defamatory statements regarding [Nelson] in order to destroy his reputation”.

In response, Bridgers filed a sworn declaration last month, in which she stated: “I believe that the statements I made in my Instagram story are true. My statements were made based on my personal knowledge, including statements I personally heard Mr Nelson make, as well as my own observations. I continue to believe the statements that I made were true”.

As part of the ongoing ‘discovery process’ in relation to the case, Nelson subsequently requested that Bridgers be ordered to sit for a deposition – so that she would be answering question under oath – saying it was the only way to prove that she defamed him.

Objecting to that request last week, her lawyer Alan A Greenberg said: “Mr Nelson’s amorphous request for discovery based on his attorney’s circular statement that it is necessary is nothing more than thinly veiled harassment”.

In a filing, Bridger’s legal team added that allowing Nelson’s deposition request would undermine California’s anti-SLAPP laws, rules that are designed to stop people limiting the free speech of others through unwarranted litigation.

The filing stated: “If plaintiffs could justify lifting the discovery stay based solely on their lack of available evidence to oppose an anti-SLAPP motion, that would enable those with the weakest claims to inflict the expense and delay of discovery on the defendants the legislature most intended to protect by providing a procedure for courts to dismiss at an early stage non-meritorious litigation meant to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights”.

The next hearing in the case is due to take place later this month.

In January this year, an LA court judge dismissed a separate defamation case brought by Nelson against another singer-songwriter, Noël Wells. In that case, Nelson claimed that Wells had defamed him in a message she sent to a band about her experiences working with him.