Courtney Love loses legal claim because she's not as famous as Marlon Brando

Courtney Love

Courtney Love has failed in an attempt to get a libel suit against her dropped by claiming the remarks she made about a fashion designer were in the public interest because of the level of her celebrity.

A court dismissed her claims that a case involving Marlon Brando set a precedent, pointing out she is nowhere near as famous as the Godfather star.

Love is being sued in California by Dawn Simorangkir, who has been seeking redress from Love for six years. The designer brought one of the first “twibel” cases agaonst Love, when the singer posted on Twitter that Simorangkir was a drug-pushing, thieving prostitute. That case settled, with Love paying $430,000. But then Love took to Pinterest to taunt Simorangkir and repeated the accusations of theft and prostitution during an interview on Howard Stern’s radio show on May 2013.

Court documents filed on Thursday show Love’s lawyers arguing that Love’s comments “were made in connection with an issue of public interest, which she identifies as being derived from the media coverage of the prior litigation between the parties, coupled with the ‘celebrity’ status of each of them”.

The court’s ruling, however, was scathing, dismissing Love’ claim that Simorangkir was a celebrity (“Defendant appears to be relying on the circumstance that plaintiff’s name and business description appearsinarticles posted on the internet in connection with the prior litigation of the partiesand that plaintiff does advertise on the internet”).

Love’s lawyers had used as a public interest precedent a case in which it was ruled that stories about Marlon Brando’s housekeeper being named as a beneficiary in his will because his level of fame placed such pieces in the public interest. Love had no such joy with that line of argument. “Nothing in the record in this case suggests that defendant has the public interest or following that Brando had; the only evidence in the record is her self-serving and factually shallow claim, coupled with a profession of celebrity by one of her lawyers,” the ruling says. “Nor is there is any socially important implication in this case akin to that presented by Brando’s gift to his housekeeper to the exclusion of his heirs at law.”

The ruling also pointed out that Love’s allegations about Simorangkir “does not involve conduct that could affect large numbers of people beyond the direct participants”. It continued by noting that while Love claimed her remarks had provoked debate about the nature of freedom of expression, “defendant presented no admissible evidence that any such debate followed either her appearance on the Howard Stern show or after her internet postings”.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian music, for theguardian.com on Friday 27th February 2015 08.40 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010