Michigan Court Tosses Lawsuit Against Eminem
The Michigan state appeals court today (April 15) dismissed a lawsuit filed by an ex-schoolmate of Eminem's who accused the Detroit-area rapper of falsely depicting him in the song "Brain Damage."The Michigan state appeals court today (April 15) dismissed a lawsuit filed by an ex-schoolmate of Eminem's who accused the Detroit-area rapper of falsely depicting him in the song "Brain Damage."
A three-judge panel unanimously upheld a Macomb County judge's 2003 decision and wrote that the song by Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers III, was not intended to be taken literally.
In the song, released on Eminem's 1999 album "The Slim Shady LP," the rapper says Deangelo Bailey beat him up in a school bathroom, banging his head on a urinal and choking him.
Bailey, a sanitation worker, sued in 2001 and accused the rapper of invading his privacy by publicizing unreasonable information that put him in a false light. Bailey admitted that he picked on Mathers but said he merely "bumped" him at school and threw a "little shove."
The court, in an opinion released today, cited song lyrics in which Eminem said the school principal stomped on him, leaving him for dead. Those lyrics along with others (Eminem singing that his "whole brain fell out" of his skull) show the song should not be interpreted literally, the judges wrote.
"It is apparent that a reasonable listener would not take the song lyrics about the defendant literally," they wrote. The court also ruled that Bailey failed to present a genuine factual issue in the suit.
Bailey's attorney, Byron Nolen, said he wasn't surprised by the ruling. He said he won't appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. "I don't think (the justices) would even look at it, to be honest with you," Nolen said.
In their decision, the appeals judges stuck with a traditional style of legal writing. That's a contrast to Macomb County Circuit Judge Deborah Servitto, who in addition to a regular opinion, added a 10-stanza rap verse to explain her ruling.
"The lyrics are stories no one would take as fact/they're an exaggeration of a childish act," she wrote. "It is therefore this Court's ultimate position/that Eminem is entitled to summary disposition."
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