Months after Cardi B won a nearly $4 million defamation verdict against Tasha K, the YouTuber’s attorneys are now launching their appeal to get the ruling overturned, arguing a judge withheld key evidence about the rapper’s “character” and didn’t let jurors see who Cardi B “truly is.”
In their opening brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, lawyers for Tasha K (real name Latasha Kebe) said Judge William Ray had “erroneously” excluded a wide range of evidence about Cardi B, unfairly resulting in her resounding courtroom victory in January.
The judge ruled at the time that such evidence might be prejudicial against Cardi, but Tasha’s attorneys said information about her “character” should have been fair game in a case centered on potential harm to the rapper’s reputation.
“The jury heard a very lopsided presentation of evidence and, because they did not get to learn who the plaintiff truly is, the jury returned a general verdict for the Plaintiff, against both Defendants,” Tasha’s attorneys wrote in the May 27 filing.
It’s unclear which pieces of evidence Tasha’s lawyers think were unfairly excluded. But ahead of trial, the two sides argued over whether jurors could hear about Cardi’s alleged involvement in a gang, about criminal charges against her over a nightclub altercation, and about alleged infidelity by her husband (the rapper Offset), among other subjects.
Cardi B (real name Belcalis Almánzar) filed the lawsuit against Tasha in 2019 over what the rapper’s lawyers called a “malicious campaign” to hurt Cardi’s reputation. Her attorneys said they had repeatedly tried – and failed – to get her to pull her videos down.
One Tasha video cited in the lawsuit includes a statement that Cardi had done sex acts “with beer bottles on f—ing stripper stages.” Others videos said the superstar had contracted herpes; that she had been a prostitute; that she had cheated on her husband; and that she had done hard drugs.
Following a trial in January, jurors sided decisively with Cardi B, holding Kebe liable for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They awarded more than $2.5 million in damages and another $1.3 million in legal fees incurred by the rapper, and Judge Ray later issued an injunction forcing her to pull the videos from the internet.
In Friday’s appeal, Tasha’s attorneys also argued that Cardi’s lawyers had failed to prove that the blogger acted with so-called “actual malice” when she posted about the rapper – meaning that she had lied intentionally or had acted with a reckless disregard for the truth. That’s the strict legal standard that famous or powerful people must meet if they want to sue someone for defamation, and Tasha’s lawyers say Cardi’s legal team failed to do so.
They pointed to various reasons for why the YouTuber believed the claims she made were true, like the claim about a debasing act with a beer bottle. They claimed Tasha had seen a video of the act featuring a woman who “looks just like” Cardi B on pornography websites, and that the rapper had not taken action against those sites.
“There was no evidence that any of Ms. Kebe’s stories about Plaintiff were fabricated by Ms. Kebe, were a product of Ms. Kebe’s imagination, were based wholly on an unverified anonymous call, or were so inherently improbable that only a reckless person would have put them in circulation,” Tasha’s lawyers wrote.
Cardi’s attorneys declined to comment on Tasha’s opening brief. They will file her own response brief at the appeals court in the weeks ahead, responding to the arguments.
Read Tasha’s entire brief below: