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Phoebe Bridgers defamation case dismissed

By | Published on Thursday 10 November 2022

Phoebe Bridgers

A US judge has dismissed a defamation case against Phoebe Bridgers on free speech grounds. The case was brought against the musician by sound engineer Chris Nelson last year.

Bridgers requested that the case be tossed earlier this year, saying that she believed the statements she made against Nelson to be true. Her request for the dismissal of Nelson’s lawsuit was based on so called anti-SLAPP rules – those being rules designed to stop people limiting the free speech of others through unwarranted litigation.

Judge Curtis Kin has now formally sided with the musician and dismissed the lawsuit – having previously indicated that he was inclined towards Bridgers’ arguments at a hearing in August.

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

In a statement on behalf of Bridgers yesterday, a rep said: “We feel vindicated that the court recognised this lawsuit as frivolous and without merit. It was not grounded in law, or facts, but was filed with the sole intention of causing harm to our client’s reputation and career. This victory is important not just for our client but for all those she was seeking to protect by using her platform”.

The ruling was not accompanied by a written explanation of the decision to dismiss, but back in August Judge Kin said: “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”.

We await to see how Nelson responds.