Government and Law

The Complex Realm of Celebrities and Lawsuits

Celebrities have their images, actions, lifestyles, and personalities displayed for the public in a wide variety of venues, from printed newspapers to internet stories to private individual blogs. The interaction between celebrities and the public can become difficult at times. Lawsuits involving actions of high-profile people, published information, or even careless statements, can yield a host of problems for all parties in the world of libel.

Celebrities as Defendants

Well-known people, whether musicians, actors, or athletes, have been named in many types of legal suits.

  • Robert Blake was put on trial for the 2001 solicited murder of his wife. Blake was acquitted of the murder but lost a civil lawsuit and was ordered to pay millions in damages.
  • O.J. Simpson had a dramatic legal saga, facing trial for armed robbery and kidnapping for a 2007 hotel room break-in. The incident involved memorabilia from his athletic career being sold by two collectors. Simpson had gone on trial for the 1994 stabbing murders of his estranged wife and her friend. He was acquitted in 1995. In a civil lawsuit, the families were awarded millions of dollars. Simpson moved to Florida, where assets cannot be seized to pay legal judgments.
  • Kobe Bryant went on trial for felony sexual assault after a young woman came forward. Bryant claimed their sexual encounter was consensual. The case was dismissed when the woman refused to testify. She filed a civil suit, which was settled out of court. Bryant denied the accusations but apologized to the accuser, his family, and the public.

While having a high-profile career does not automatically mean one will have legal problems, the chances are higher for celebrities to be involved in a variety of disputes and litigation. Certainly, also, there is deep psychology involved in being a well-known individual as well as for those who put particular individuals up on pedestals.

Celebrities as Plaintiffs

Sometimes celebrities are the ones who initiate lawsuits. Consider the case of Robin Williams, who sued a look-alike posing as him to steal money from charities. Michael Jackson was on both sides of the courtroom as defendant and plaintiff. His attorney, John Branca, found the intricacies of litigation involving his client to continue even after Jackson died.

High-Profile Litigation

Whether celebrities file litigation or have it brought against them, legal proceedings will be extensive — and some would say exhaustively — covered. The complex world of celebrity lawsuits and libel cases seems to fascinate many, and this arena will continue to be active and complicated as news coverage evolves based on technology.