Dickinson v. Cosby

17 Cal. App. 5th 655, 225 Cal. Rptr. 3d 430 (2017)

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Dickinson v. Cosby

California Court of Appeal
17 Cal. App. 5th 655, 225 Cal. Rptr. 3d 430 (2017)

Facts

Janice Dickinson (plaintiff) publicly accused William H. Cosby, Jr. (defendant) of rape. Several news outlets contacted Cosby asking for his position on Dickinson’s rape allegation. Cosby responded by having his attorney Martin Singer issue (1) a letter demanding that the news outlets not air or publish the story and (2) a press release in which Cosby forcefully denied the allegations. Both the demand letter and the press release communicated unequivocally that Cosby did not rape Dickinson and that Dickinson was lying. The demand letter stated unconditionally that the rape allegations by Dickinson were an “outrageous and defamatory lie.” The press release was equally unconditional and used the same language in denying the allegations. The demand letter threatened litigation if the recipients did not comply with the demands. Dickinson sued Cosby for defamation. Cosby responded by filing an anti-SLAPP motion to strike on grounds that neither the demand letter nor the press release was actionable. Dickinson filed an amended complaint to include Singer. Cosby and Singer successfully moved to strike the amended complaint. The court granted the anti-SLAPP motion as to the demand letter but denied it as to the press release. Both Dickinson and Cosby appealed, with Dickinson seeking reinstatement of her first amended complaint and Cosby appealing as to his partially denied anti-SLAPP motion.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rubin, J.)

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