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Courtney Love's 'Twibel' Case Goes to Trial

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on January 17, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Never one to avoid controversy, Courtney Love has gone to trial in an alleged "Twibel" case. (That's "Twitter libel," in case you're wondering.)

Love's former attorney, Rhonda Holmes, is suing Love for suggesting on Twitter that Holmes was "bought off" when she refused to help Love in a legal battle over her late husband Kurt Cobain's estate, according to ABC News.

So how can "Twibel" be proven, and will Love and her "Celebrity Skin" prevail?

'Twibel' Ahead

As mentioned, "Twibel" is a combination of Twitter and libel. Libel falls under personal injury law because it's a defamatory statement that's published in writing. Defamation laws are in place to protect a person's reputation against statements that are straight-up untrue.

Holmes claims that Love tweeted false statements about her being bribed to avoid helping Love with an estate battle. The interesting thing about this lawsuit against Courtney Love is that it's not the first time she's being sued for defamation based on a Twitter message: In a history-repeats-itself moment, Love was sued in 2011 by a business owner for making defamatory Tweets about her business. That lawsuit settled before trial.

To win a libel case in California, the person suing must prove:

  • A false statement was made about them by the defendant;
  • The statement was published to a third party;
  • The statement isn't protected by privilege, like statements made in a court proceeding;
  • The publication could injure their reputation; and
  • The person who made the statement was negligent in publishing it.

Depending on the testimony and evidence presented during trial, Love could be liable for "Twibel."

Will Love 'Live Through This'?

So far in the trial, Love has alleged that the Tweet she made saying that Holmes was bribed was merely an "opinion," according to ABC News. If that's the case, then Love may have a defense, because libel laws only punish false statements of fact, not opinions.

However, Holmes argues that Love agreed to settle the case earlier this year and retract the statement. But Love allegedly didn't pay up and ended up republishing the alleged defamatory statement, according to ABA Journal.

The "Twibel" lawsuit against Courtney Love is key because it could change how California courts treat defamatory statements on Twitter. So stay tuned.

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