Phoebe Bridgers cleared of $3.8 million defamation suit

The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter appeared in court in August after she was accused of defamation by recording studio owner, Chris Nelson.

A judge has dismissed a $3.8 million defamation lawsuit brought against Phoebe Bridgers, after she successfully argued that she had the First Amendment right to criticise a recording studio owner in a post on Instagram.

Bridgers took to Instagram in October 2020 in support her friend Emily Bannon, who formerly dated Nelson, calling him out for abusive misconduct. She reportedly wrote: “I witnessed and can personally verify much of the abuse (grooming, stealing, violence) perpetuated by Chris Nelson.”

Almost a year after the post, the studio owner filed his defamation lawsuit, which according to the lawsuit, was accusing Bridgers of causing musicians and artists to remove him “from their projects” further claiming that he was “stripped” of credits “he had obtained in producing their music”, resulting in damages of at least $3.8 million. Nelson has not worked with Bridgers on any of her music.

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The Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted Bridgers’ dismissal request on Wednesday with an anti-SLAPP motion. This motion is designed to stop “strategic lawsuits against public participation” – when a plaintiff is using the law to intimidate people from exercising their free speech.

“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,” a spokesperson for Bridgers said in a press statement. “This victory is important not just for our client but for all those she was seeking to protect by using her platform.”

This is not the first time Nelson has sued individuals for defamation, as the studio owner filed for two lawsuits in December 2020 accusing his ex-girlfriend Emily Bannon which has since been put on hold, and Saturday Night Live actress Noël Wells, in which the judge too dismissed the case in defence of free speech.

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