Call in Judge Judy. Better yet, call in Extreme Akim! There is a law suit getting ready to unfold in Atlanta, y’all, and this time Phaedra Parks isn’t going to be the attorney…she’s the plaintiff! After the publication of Angela Stanton’s tome Lies of a Real Housewife: Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil by Vibe.com, the Real Housewives of Atlanta star is suing Vibe Holdings in federal court for libel and defamation of character.
You all recall that in the book, Angela touts Phaedra and now husband Apollo Nida as living a life of crime, guilty of theft, racketeering, and forgery. She alleges the couple wooed her into their inner circle of criminals, and left her out to dry when she was arrested.
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Phaedra is not taking these accusations lightly, and has filed suit to asking for $5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages. Additionally, she wants a retraction from Vibe. Phaedra is being represented by Lin Wood with Wood, Hernacki & Evans.
According to Courthouse News Service, Phaedra’s complaint alleges that Vibe.com “had actual knowledge that the accusations against plaintiff were false prior to publication.”
After listing Phaedra’s multiple charitable and community involvements, the complaint states that Phedra met Angela in 2000 when she represented Angela’s then-boyfriend Drama. Phaedra later represented Angela in a sentence-modification hearing, but “plaintiff has never had any formal or informal employment relationship with Stanton.”
The document continues, “Plaintiff has never participated in any criminal activities with Stanton…Plaintiff did not socialize with Stanton on any regular basis and does not consider (and never has considered) her to be a close friend or confidant.”
The complaint cites several excerpts of the book, including the following:
Phaedra Parks was a snake I allowed to slither her way into my life. Once she got close enough to bite, she did! As she slithered away, she left me to die a slow and sure death. The heifer never even looked back. …
Phaedra was this crooked attorney who knew how to commit crimes against the federal government. She also knew how to get away. Phaedra Parks had studied the law extensively, and learned how to manipulate the cracks in the system. …
Phaedra Parks broke several rules governed by the State Bar of Georgia.
Among other allegations, the complaint also asserts the following allegations against Vibe:
Around February of 2010, Stanton began a personal crusade of false attacks against plaintiff.
Specifically, Stanton began posting false and defamatory accusations about plaintiff on Twitter and otherwise made false and defamatory statements about her to third persons in the community.
In March of this year, defendant published and promoted Stanton’s false and defamatory accusations on the Internet, and as a direct result, Stanton’s personal and unfounded vendetta against plaintiff went viral on the Internet.
Defendant interviewed Stanton and broadcast her false and defamatory accusations in articles and videos on its websites.
Defendant eventually published Stanton’s accusations in a book available for online purchase by the public.
Defendant’s publications of the online interviews and the book concerning plaintiff imply, as a whole, that plaintiff is an attorney who has engaged in criminal activity and is worthy of public scorn and contempt.
The false statements published by defendant are defamatory per se and damages to the reputation of Plaintiff are presumed as a matter of law.
Prior to the publication, and evidencing a reckless disregard of truth or falsity, defendant failed and refused to provide plaintiff with an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against her in the articles, interviews, and the book.
Defendant knowingly and purposely avoided and ignored evidence establishing the falsity of the articles, interviews, and the book prior to publishing them. …
Prior to the publication of the false and defamatory statements, defendant had actual knowledge that the criminal activity alleged by Stanton had occurred many years ago and had been thoroughly investigated by law enforcement authorities with no criminal charges being brought against plaintiff, but with criminal charges being brought against Stanton, which resulted in her incarceration in prison.
Evidencing a reckless disregard for truth or falsity, defendant published accusations against Plaintiff without conducting even a cursory investigation, which failure constitutes gross negligence.
Now, the burden of proof when proving defamation is greater for that of a public figure, the rationale being that they purposely put themselves in the public eye. Showing that false statements were made isn’t enough…it must be proven that the writer or publisher of those statements made them with knowledge of their falsity and acted with actual malice. And a big thank you to my torts professor that I was able to remember those buzz words…hopefully! In any case (pun intended), it will be interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit. I have a feeling that Phaedra is going to come out on top!
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