Phoebe Bridgers Wins in Court as Judge Tosses Producer’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Her

A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday (Nov. 9) tossed out a lawsuit accusing Phoebe Bridgers of defaming producer Chris Nelson with a social media post echoing accusations of abuse made against him by another woman.

The judge cited California’s so-called anti-SLAPP law, which empowers courts to quickly dismiss lawsuits that might silence free speech. The star’s lawyers had argued that Nelson was just using the lawsuit to “chill Ms. Bridgers’ allegations of abusive conduct, which are protected by the First Amendment.”

The decision, issued by Judge Curtis A. Kin of the Los Angeles Superior Court, did not come with a written ruling explaining the judge’s rationale. An attorney for Nelson did not immediately return a request for comment.

In a statement to Billboard, a rep for Bridgers said: “We feel vindicated that the court recognized this lawsuit as frivolous and without merit.  It was not grounded in law, or facts, but was filed with the sole intention of causing harm to our client’s reputation and career.  This victory is important not just for our client but for all those she was seeking to protect by using her platform.”

Nelson sued Bridgers last year, claiming she had defamed him by posting false information to social media as part of a “vendetta to destroy plaintiff’s reputation.”

He pointed to a series of October 2020 Instagram posts, in which the singer said she had “witnessed and can personally verify much of the abuse (grooming, stealing, violence) perpetuated by Chris Nelson.” She also directed her followers to a separate thread from friend Emily Bannon, which contained more extensive allegations against Nelson.

Bridgers quickly moved to end the case, with her lawyers arguing that Nelson was trying to silence her allegations by dragging her through messy litigation: “It is clear that Mr. Nelson voluntarily and intentionally published his ‘amended’ complaint to the media before it was even filed in a transparent attempt to embarrass Ms. Bridgers and to get attention for his dispute with her.”

Faced with that motion, Nelson demanded the right to depose her — saying it was the only way he could prove that his allegation was valid. He said denying him that chance would violate his right to due process. A judge eventually agreed with him, ordering Bridgers to sit for questioning.

Bill Donahue