In a surprising new turn in the James Woods defamation lawsuit with an anonymous Twitter user, the presiding judge this week has ruled to allow the case to proceed.
With the Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s denial of the defendant’s move to strike the lawsuit, the door is now open for Woods to unmask the social media user known as “Abe List” who suggested the actor was a “cocaine addict,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Woods, who is well-known for his conservative views which he often airs on Twitter, brought a $10 million suit against List last July saying that “AL, and anyone else using social media to propagate lies and do harm, should take note. They are not impervious to the law.”
The actor had posted a comment about Planned Parenthood to which List had replied, “Cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.” The user had also posted, “you are a ridiculous scum clown-boy James, a joke.” The actor’s lawsuit alleged that the posts were seen by thousands and were “the culmination of a malicious online campaign by AL to discredit and damage Woods’ reputation,” according to the Reporter.
The decision to allow the case to proceed removes one First Amendment hurdle as the defendant’s identity will likely be made known, something Twitter has resisted so far.
“The speech at issue appears to be opinion and hyperbole rather than a statement of fact,” wrote one of Twitter’s attorneys, according to the Reporter. “Attempts to unmask anonymous online speakers in the absence of a prima facie defamation claim are improper and would chill the First Amendment rights of speakers who use Twitter’s platform to express their thoughts and ideas instantly and publicly, without barriers.”
“The cruelty of having one’s reputation sullied by an anonymous coward is agonizing,”Woods said. The actor was thankful for the judge’s decision in a case of “wanton defamation,” warning “Twitter users beware: you are not above the law.”