The Plaintiff felt that Bauer Media published articles that claimed she lied about key aspects of her childhood, background and upbringing and that the inference was made that she was a serial liar.
The Plaintiff claimed that the defamatory statements caused injury to her feelings, credit and reputation; that she had been humiliated and embarrassed.
The Plaintiff claimed that the articles had caused significant loss of earnings given that the defamatory article occurred at a time (after the successful release of Pitch Perfect) when she would have ordinarily been offered many new leading roles. She claimed that the statements caused producers not to offer her work in the 18 months after publication, and that she consequently suffered special losses (lost earnings) arising from this lost employment opportunity.
- Bauer Media had made no attempt to contact the plaintiff before publishing its articles.
- Bauer Media was motivated by malice in publishing the articles so widely on the internet, enabling the spread of the defamatory statements via the ‘grapevine effect’ instantaneously into the United States, where Rebel Wilson lived and worked
Bauer Media attempted to defend its claim by asserting that the statements made were truthful. It also claimed that the articles were trivial, entertaining and fun.
As outlined by Justice Dixon, in Hollywood, ‘so much turns by word of mouth’ and the ‘negative impact of false imputations, like gossip, … is likely to be substantial and long lasting’. In other words, the reputational damage and therefore earnings potential is negatively impacted by comments such as those by Bauer Media, particularly given that the plaintiff relies on ‘Hollywood’ for her income. The implication being that the damage would have been less if she worked in a different industry.
The answer to this question will depend on the personal views of each student.