K. Michelle has come out victorious against ex-boyfriend Memphitz Wright Jr., who filed a defamation suit against the owners of VH1 and producers of Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta.
If you recall, K. Michelle said on the show that she had been abused and ripped off by Memphitz (although she never said his hame). Despite not being named, the blogosphere knew who the unnamed abuser was and ran with hit.
In the lawsuit filed in the United States Northern District of Georgia on Sept. 5, 2012, Wright asked for $15 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
To win the defamation case, Wright had to prove K Michelle’s allegations that he physically abused her were false, that he is more a private figure than a public figure (where the bar is far higher to prove defamation and “actual malice” has to be proven) and that the production companies and VH1 aired this information knowing it was false. He also had to prove the allegations were “injurious to his reputation and was published with a degree of fault at least amounting to negligence.”
The Fulton County judge Robert McBurney decided in favor of the defendants. In general, the allegations were true, Wright is deemed a public figure as a former TV host and husband of singer and reality star Toya Wrightand the production company “exercised due diligence concerning Defendant Pate’s domestic violence claims,” according to final court judgment. “The record shows that they reasonably believed Defendant Pate during production of LHHA and that they still do today.”
Wright in depositions acknowledged he got into a physical altercation with K Michelle in a Memphis hotel altercation in 2009 and had spent money from Jive Record’s budget for jewelry, not to help her career, and had sent a text message threatening to kill K. Michelle’s son. That content of the text was bleeped out on the show, negating its import in the case.
The summary judgment goes into detail about the argument between K Michelle and Wright where Wright admits he put a pillow and/or his hands over her mouth to try to shut her up. She reasonably thought he was trying to kill her. He later tried to backtrack from his initial acknowledgments, according to a court filing by the defendants seeking summary judgment.
Although K Michelle wasn’t a defendant in the original case, she was added later. The other defendants are Viacom, which owns VH1 and the production companies NFGTV and Monami Entertainment.
The judge was also displeased that it took several months for Wright to specify what was defamatory, noting that the delays “consumed the resources of the Court and Defendants and ultimately required an order of the Court to fix.”