Phoebe Bridgers Defamation Suit Dismissed

Phoebe Bridgers Defamation Suit Dismissed

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has finally decided to dismiss the defamation case against Phoebe Bridgers filed by producer and Sound Studio owner Chris Nelson last year, a major win for the artist.

Judge Curtis A. Kin decided to rule in favor of Bridgers' anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion, filed this past February, according to court documents, agreeing that statements she made on her Instagram Story about Nelson did in fact fall under her right to free speech and under matters of public interest as protected by California statute.

“We feel vindicated that the Court recognized this lawsuit as frivolous and without merit," a spokesperson for Bridgers said in a statement following the ruling. "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.”

Nelson's original lawsuit alleged that Bridgers used her platform to publish false defamatory statements designed to "destroy his reputation," directing her followers to Emily Bannon's account which accused him of "racially motivated hate crimes." Bridgers also attested to having witnessed Nelson's history of "grooming, stealing [and] violence," with court documents revealing that he allegedly defrauded buyers by selling fake rare guitars, stole $50,000 from a neighbor, hacked women's email accounts and beat "a young Latinx man to death."

Nelson claimed that then-girlfriend Bannon and Bridgers "began having consensual sexual encounters" in 2018 and continued to date after they had broken up in 2019, implying that their statements were motivated by some sort of malicious vendetta. Nelson sought $3.8 million in damages for alleged defamation, false light, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with prospective economic relations and negligent interference with prospective economic relations.

In February, Bridgers stood by her original statements, writing, "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 Bridgers' motion to have the case dismissed, the musician's legal team stated that Nelson had “voluntarily interjected himself into this dispute” and that the lawsuit was a retaliatory move intended to intimidate and silence the artist.

Precedent for the case to be dismissed had previously been set in a similar lawsuit filed by Nelson against singer-songwriter and former Saturday Night Live cast member Noël Wells in January. Nelson had also accused Wells of defamation for warning band Big Thief about working with the producer, describing his behavior in a private email as "incredibly predatory." A judge found that Wells' warnings were covered under First Amendment protections and served “in the advancement or assistance of the creation of music.”

Photo via Getty/ Stephen J. Cohen