Right before the holidays, a doozey of an online defamation lawsuit landed in the news. Various media outlets reported that former Chicago Bulls star, Scottie Pippen, had filed a multi-million-dollar cyber-libel case against various high-profile conglomerates (and a state university!) for saying he was…well…broke.
Scottie Pippen’s Road to an Online Defamation Lawsuit
Several years ago, Scottie Pippen was straight pimpin’ when he purchased a 2002 Gulfstream jet. Unfortunately, the private plane had to be grounded fairly quickly, as reports indicated that Pippen’s bank account allegedly couldn’t handle the baller buy.
Unamused by the situation, Scottie Pippen filed a malpractice suit against the law firm who advised “yay” on the plane purchase. And guess what? Mr. Pippen won $2 million. His legal victory, however, didn’t stop online channels from reporting that the A-list athlete filed for bankruptcy.
As a result of the bankruptcy reporting, Pippen filed a lawsuit in Chicago’s U.S. District Court claiming defamation, negligence and false light.
Who’s Scottie Pippen Suing For Online Defamation
So, which media outlets learned that Scottie Pippen was suing them? That would be Comcast Corporation, General Electric Co., CBS Corp and Arizona State University. Comcast, GE and CBS are accused of publishing stories that Scottie Pippen was bankrupt on one of their online news outlets. Arizona State University, however, was targeted for an editorial that appeared on the school’s law blog, which included the tags “Scottie Pippen” and “bankruptcy.”
Can Scottie Pippen Win His Online Defamation Lawsuit?
Does Scottie Pippen have a chance at winning this online defamation lawsuit? While I don’t have all the facts of the case, I’m going to go out on a limb on this one and say that it’s going to be a difficult case to win.
Because Scottie is a public figure and he’ll have to prove actual malice in order to win any money.
According to United States defamation law, if an individual is a public figure suing for defamation, they must prove that the offending party knowingly lied. In other words, Pippen’s lawyers must prove that the defendants knew that the former Bull did not file for bankruptcy, but reported he did anyway. Moreover (and again because he is a public figure), if he wants financial compensation, Pippen must provide evidence of lost income as a result of the public bankruptcy claims.
Now, I suppose his defamation lawyers could argue that reporting of an alleged bankruptcy dissuaded investors from offering Pippen product endorsement and business deals. But there would have to be documentation of this face and admittance from a potential investor that this was the reason for passing on Pippen.
As a sports’ fan and online defamation lawyer, you better believe I’ll be keeping my eye on this one. If you want to also be kept up to date on Scottie Pippen’s online defamation lawsuit, sign up for the Kelly Law newsletter.