Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debre Katz Weintraub denied a motion by Cosby’s attorney, Christopher Tayback, to toss the allegations on grounds that former Cosby attorney Martin Singer expressed an opinion when he issued a Nov. 19, 2014, news release concerning Dickinson’s truthfulness.
Dickinson’s suit, filed May 20, 2015, alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in 1982 and later defamed her by falsely calling her a liar in two written statements Singer provided to the media on consecutive days in November 2014.
The complaint alleges defamation, false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The judge said Singer never investigated Dickinson’s allegations sufficiently before concluding she was lying. She said that before penning the statement, Singer should have consulted “the most direct source: Cosby himself.”
Cosby ratified Singer’s conduct by not saying anything about the press statement, Weintraub said.
The judge also said it was undisputed that both Cosby and Dickinson were celebrities. Dickinson’s lawyers established a framework for showing that Cosby knew or should have known that Singer’s statement that the plaintiff was lying about being raped was false, Weintraub said.
“A jury could infer malice in the face of Cosby’s silence,” the judge said.
The judge did find that a statement Singer gave the media the day before the Nov. 19 press statement was not defamatory. The judge said it was not a press statement, but instead a letter to two media members warning that Cosby could sue if Dickinson’s rape allegations against him were published. She said the Singer statements in that correspondence were protected speech.
Dickinson, 61, was present in court. Her attorney, Lisa Bloom, tweeted after today’s hearing, “Victory. Court rules we go to trial against Bill Cosby. Huge win for my client Janice Dickinson.”
Bloom said Singer is a sophisticated lawyer who could have crafted the Nov. 19 statement to avoid any defamatory context.
“He could have couched it as a statement of opinion if he wanted to,” Bloom said.
Tayback declined any immediate comment on whether his client will appeal.
Dickinson is one of dozens of women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them. Her suit alleges that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1982 at a Lake Tahoe resort. The statute of limitations for a criminal case has expired.
Cosby, 78, previously fired Singer and replaced him with Tayback. Dickinson’s lawyers sought without success to add Singer as a defendant in their client’s case.
—City News Service