Kim Kardashian’s Defamation Claim: Smart Or Not?

Faced with a growing backlash from the public for her mini-marriage to NBA basketball player, Chris Humphries, Kim Kardashian has filed a claim for arbitration alleging breach of a confidentiality agreement and defamation.

I won’t recount the details about the wedding extravaganza, which was televised, because I think most people are probably familiar with it (for more background, read this). However, what I will discuss is why I think this latest legal move is probably a good one, assuming that the news accounts accurately describe the nature of the claims.

First, I think this is a good PR move. Not only does it send a strong message that her marriage was NOT bogus or a hoax, but also it allows her to control the story. Now, instead of talking about whether the marriage was fixed or not, people will be talking about the individual who Kardashian claims is defaming her. Further, by pursuing these claims in a private arbitration, she can better control how the story develops in the media. This wouldn’t be the case had she opted to file a lawsuit. Of course, she may not have had much of a choice. The alleged confidentiality agreement probably had an arbitration clause in it.

The second reason this is a good move is a legal one: avoiding the anti-SLAPP statute (AKA Special Motion to Strike). Had Kardashian filed a lawsuit in state court I can guarantee that defense counsel would have filed an anti-SLAPP motion. There is no question that Kardashian is in the public eye and that comments regarding her marriage are a matter of public interest, so, a SLAPP motion would be warranted. Likewise, on the second prong, she’d have a very difficult time showing that the defendant made the statements with constitutional malice. However, perhaps her attorneys would argue that the SLAPP statute doesn’t apply in the first place given the confidentiality agreement, i.e., that the defendant waived his right to use the SLAPP statute. One thing is certain: the defendant stands a much better chance if he can get the case out of the arbitrator’s hands. For now, however, Kardashian seems to have the advantage.

In sum, I think Kardashian made a smart play here. It will definitely be interesting to see how this one plays out.






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