Understanding Defamation Suits Part 2

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 05 March 2023

First, I am not a lawyer. I’ve checked a few things with lawyers, I learned how to read court rulings in college, and this is an area I’m interested in. That said, nothing I write here should be construed as legal advice. If you take away anything, I suggest getting advice from a lawyer in your area to understand how things are done where you live.

Second, the allegations are quite difficult stuff involving descriptions of events that could fall into potential sexual assault territory and/or could at the very least be triggering. For the most part, I’m not going to include the statements themselves.

In this one, we’ll go over G’s complaint regarding S’s statement on his blog. This one is a bit trickier because it's not a small number of concise statements that need to be addressed and the Court organized this part of the ruling a bit differently.

Statements of Opinion

First, one of the defenses against defamation is that it is “non-actionable opinion.” The Court found one statement, 2-70 to meet that definition, “[G] only jumped on board with her accusations once the mob was decidedly on [N]’s side.” This means it can’t be defamation.

However, in this section the Court says the rest of the statements in the complaint “can reasonably be understood as declaring or implying actual facts capable of proving them true or false” and thus meet one of the requirements for a defamation claim.


Next, the Court discusses the falsity of the statements. One of the requirements is that the statements of fact must be false.

The Court references the previous finding on the case of S v G. And thus finds the following true: Statement 2-09b and Statement 2-18a. Those statements are not false and thus do not meet the requirements of a defamation claim.

However, using the findings from the first suit, the Court says several statements are false: Statement 2-02, Statement 2-09a, Statement 2-11, Statement 2-16, Statement 2-18a, Statement 2-18b, Statement 2-19b, Statement 2-39, Statement 2-75. These statements would meet one of the requirements for a defamation claim.

There’s an additional statement, 2-20, which the court finds partially true, in terms of why G was not invited to the Maxim shoot, but finds the stated motivation for posting the accusations in relations to the Maxim shoot to be false.

At this point of the review of the case, the court has found 10 statements or parts of statements that meet two of the requirements for a defamation claim: Statements 2-02, 2-09a, 2-11, 2-16, 2-18a, 2-18b, 2-19b, 2-39, 2-75, and 2-20.

Civil Code Section 45

California has some requirements in terms of what can be considered libel. As quoted from the ruling, the statement must “expose[] [the plaintiff] to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or…cause[] [plaintiff] to be shunned or avoided, or…ha[ve] a tendency to injure [plaintiff] in his occupation.”

This is a key difference between the two cases. S’s complaint is about accusations made against him that he did something to G. G’s complaint is more about S saying she lied in his defense of himself. It’s unclear if S’s statements had any of the above effects on G, or at the very least, G didn’t provide evidence to satisfy the Court that it was the case. Thus, the Court concludes that it doesn’t qualify as libel even though it does conclude that several statements in S’s post are false.


The Court further discusses the issue of what if there was evidence that the statements caused reactions that satisfy Section 45. The Court says since the statements don’t qualify as “libel per se,” G would need to prove special damages. There is a reference to a court case, Western Broadcast Co. v Times-Mirror Co (1936), which sets out an idea that “[I]t has been held in certain cases that it is not libelous per se to publish an answer challenging the correctness of an opponent’s statements and charging such opponent with ‘telling falsehoods’ or ‘falsely asserting.’”

The Court likens S’s post to that case, saying “[S]’s blog is clearly a response in self-defense to an earlier statement by [G]…[S] does not paint [G] to be a liar generally. Instead, [S]’s statements are limited in responding to the particular allegations in [G]’s Facebook post. Moreover, [S]’s blog is disjointed and makes sense only after reading [G]’s February 13, 2019 Facebook post, which provides necessary context for what it is that [S] is denying. Without the ‘explanatory matter’ of [G]’s February 13, 2019 Facebook post, it is difficult to follow [S]’s blog. Thus, [S]’s statements are not libel on their face.”

Given that, G would have to prove special damage in order to make the statements actionable. The Court found “that [G] has failed to prove any damages, let alone special damages.”

Thus, G’s case fails on this requirement of a defamation claim as well, which is why her claim overall failed. She failed to meet the burden of proof in her complaint.

However, even though G lost her case, those statements by S listed above as having been found false still have that finding, even if they weren’t actionable in this defamation claim.


So one of the things I’ve seen fans of S say is that he has been vindicated by this outcome.

I guess that means what one means by vindication?

Was he the only party that met their burden of proof for a defamation lawsuit…sure.

But it came at the cost of having a number of G’s statements being found to be substantially true by the Court, including ones that form part of the reason why a number of entities have distanced themselves from S. In addition, S has been found by the Court to have made false statements, which, while not legally damaging to him in this suit…definitely differs with the narrative some say about him.

Support for G

This case comes at a great cost to G, monetarily and otherwise. If you’d like to support her, she has a GoFundMe to help cover a portion of her overall legal expenses.

Send feedback using the contact form or through twitter, @sarahdarkmagic.

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