Richard Simmons could end his more-than-four-year semi-retirement today with an appearance at the first major hearing in his lawsuit against The National ENQUIRER.
Lawyers for the weight guru and The ENQUIRER are due in an L.A. courtroom this morning at 9 am local time to hear a judge’s ruling on The ENQUIRER’s anti-SLAPP motion to get Simmons’ case dismissed.
Simmons, 68, sued The ENQUIRER for libel in May over a series of articles reporting that he was transitioning to a woman.
Simmons claimed in his complaint that the articles were “cruel,” but The ENQUIRER hit back with an anti-SLAPP motion in July, insisting that calling someone transgender in this day and age can hardly be considered a smear.
The ENQUIRER attorneys wrote in the anti-SLAPP motion, “Statements that someone is transgender, or undergoing a gender transition, do not impute the kind of inherently shameful or odious characteristic that can support a defamation claim in modern times. Just as with false imputations of race or homosexuality, which once were considered defamatory, being referred to as ‘transgender’ cannot rationally be held by a court to impute negative characteristics.”
“Indeed, Simmons cannot show the articles harmed him at all, given his pre-existing reputation for gender ambiguity, his well-publicized testing of the boundaries of gender classification, and his willingness to be depicted as a woman.”
L.A. Superior Court judge Gregory Keosian must decide this morning whether The ENQUIRER’s articles were “in furtherance” of free speech, and whether calling someone “transgender” in this day and age is like calling someone “gay” in the 1950’s.
Stay with Radar for the latest from court.
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