Alec Baldwin has won dismissal of a $25 million defamation lawsuit filed by the relatives of a Marine killed in Afghanistan during the attack at the Kabul Airport last August.
The legal action, filed in federal court in Wyoming, noted the actor initially donated $5,000 to the family of Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum but said Baldwin later publicly labeled McCollum’s sister an “insurrectionist” for attending the protest that turned into the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
In the lawsuit filed Jan. 17, lawyers for McCollum’s sister Roice McCollum wrote that while their client had joined a “demonstration to protest what many people viewed as the fraudulent election of Joseph Biden as President of the United States,” Roice herself acted in a “peaceful, law-abiding manner.”
They claimed Baldwin was in the wrong when he noticed Roice posted something on Instagram in early January 2022 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot and responded with a post that read, “Are you the same woman that I sent the $ to for your [sister-in-law’s] husband who was killed during the Afghanistan exit?”
In a follow-up public post, Baldwin noted the “irony of sincerely wanting to honor your brother and the fact that you are [an] insurrectionist.”
According to Roice’s lawyers, the post led to a wave of threats and vitriol from Baldwin’s followers.
The actor denied any wrongdoing through his own legal representation and sought dismissal of the suit based on a jurisdictional error. The judge agreed and granted the dismissal motion Wednesday, noting that Baldwin lives in New York.
“Mr. Baldwin’s public post on his own Instagram feed cannot reasonably be considered expressly aimed at Wyoming given Mr. Baldwin’s ‘2.4 million Instagram followers,’” U.S. District Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal wrote in her decision.
“Further, the allegations that Mr. Baldwin was aware that his followers are sympathetic to his political affiliation, that they are more likely to be politically active and opinionated, that he fueled the firestorm of hatred from his followers, and did nothing to remedy what he had started, also are not intentional actions by Mr. Baldwin that were expressly aimed at Wyoming,” she wrote in her ruling that was made “without prejudice,” meaning the plaintiffs, including the Marine’s widow, can attempt to address any deficiencies and file again.
“We are pleased with this victory. This is a significant step toward the complete dismissal of the lawsuit, which seeks to punish Mr. Baldwin for expressing his political opinion,” Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Nikas with the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
The lawyer representing Roice and other members of her family did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
Beyond the defamation lawsuit, Baldwin, 64, is also battling claims he should be held liable for the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his ill-fated western movie, Rust, last October. Baldwin was holding the firearm that discharged the live bullet that killed Hutchins, but he denies any negligence because the gun was only supposed to contain dummy rounds, and he says he never even pulled the trigger.