Aretha Franklin Retains Lawyer to Pursue Case Against Satirical News Site

Aretha Franklin performs during the 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in President's Park on December 6, 2013 in Washington, DC.
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Earlier reports of a $10 million case against the site appear to be false

A rumored case between Aretha Franklin and the satirical news site is being seriously considered, according to a statement from the lawyer she's retained to investigate its viability, Arnold Reed of Detroit suburb Farmington Hills. Earlier reports of a $10 million case against the site appear to be false.

At issue is a story that posted about a fabricated dustup between Franklin and Patti LaBelle, which Franklin later vehemently denied. Reed contends that's notice of its satirical intent is buried, rendering it ineffective. “What good is a disclaimer when one has to dig deeper than a six-foot grave to find it,” Reed posited in a statement.

The case would be fraught with difficulties for the prosecution both constitutional and cultural, as Reed acknowledged. "My client knows that this is not an easy case. She is well aware of the legalities involved with celebrities and the freedoms afforded by the First Amendment."

The landmark case in this area would be Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, wherein the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited public figures and officials from recovering damages when the item in question "could not reasonably have been interpreted as stating actual facts about the public figure involved."

A recent U.K. case illustrated the wide berth that journalists are afforded when covering celebrities. The Jam's Paul Weller successfully litigated against the Daily Mail for publishing photos of him and his family, asserting that it adversely affected the early development of his children. As the Daily Mail made clear in their defense, the case wouldn't have won if the case had been tried where the photos were taken -- California.


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