Hole singer Courtney Love is heading to trial in Los Angeles later this month as the defendant in the first high-profile Twitter defamation lawsuit. Love is being sued by Dawn Simorangkir, a fashion designer she attacked in a series of tweets — as well as posts on her MySpace and Etsy accounts — in March 2009.
The dispute between Love and Simorangkir began when the designer demanded payment for a few thousand dollars worth of her clothing. An irate Love took to the internet, attacking Simorangkir for capitalizing on the her fame and declaring her to be a “drug-pushing prostitute.” Love also claimed that Simorangkir had a history of assault and had lost custody of her child.
Simorangkir’s suit is based on the claim that Love’s Twitter tirade qualifies as defamation, and her statements — amplified by the singer’s considerable media presence and large number of Twitter followers (currently close to 90,000, though at the time of the tweets in question she had around 40,000) — have significantly damaged her career as a designer. The outcome of this suit could set a precedent for how celebrities and non-celebrities alike can behave on Twitter in the future.
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Love has already given a deposition for this case in which she said that her tweets only reflected what she had heard directly from Simorangkir.
Interestingly, one of the witnesses prepared by Love’s attorneys will be a medical expert who is set to testify that the rocker’s mental state at the time of the tweets was not “subjectively malicious” enough to merit a defamation suit. In other words, they plan to argue that Love had no idea how her comments would be interpreted by others, and was not attempting to leverage her influence to wreck Simorangkir’s career.