A state appellate court ruled that Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend cannot be deposed as part of her brother’s defamation lawsuit against the Amazon founder and his security consultant, affirming a trial judge’s decision in September.
Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent manager and the brother of Lauren Sanchez, alleges in his lawsuit filed Jan. 31 in Los Angeles Superior Court that Bezos and Gavin de Becker, the consultant, falsely told journalists that the plaintiff had leaked nude photographs of the 56-year-old billionaire to the National Enquirer.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Doyle denied Michael Sanchez’s motion to lift a discovery stay on the case so that Lauren Sanchez could be questioned by her brother’s attorneys regarding her knowledge about how the tabloid obtained the photos.
Last Thursday, a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal denied Michael Sanchez’s appeal of Doyle’s ruling.
A discovery stay automatically went into effect when Bezos’ lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint on free-speech grounds on Feb. 3. His lawyers wanted to depose their client’s sister as part of their effort to defeat the dismissal motion, which will be heard Thursday.
Michael Sanchez’s lawyers stated in their court papers that they wanted to question his sibling about her knowledge of whether Bezos and de Becker acted with actual malice when making their allegedly defamatory statements that Michael Sanchez leaked pictures of Bezos’ genitalia to the National Enquirer as part of a conservative conspiracy to harm Bezos.
Lauren Sanchez has information that Bezos and de Becker “entertained serious doubts as to the truth of their publications,” Michael Sanchez’s lawyers allege in their court papers. “Because of her numerous, one-on-one interactions with all parties involved, she is the primary link as to both Bezos’ and de Becker’s knowledge and conduct at the time the false statements were published.”
In a sworn declaration, Michael Sanchez said, “My sister also confirmed that Mr. de Becker told reporters that I was the one who gave the (National) Enquirer Mr. Bezos’ genitalia pictures.”
But Doyle said that what Michael Sanchez alleges he was told by reporters is hearsay because the statements “relate to out-of-court statements by other individuals.” In addition, the plaintiff has not provided any exception to the hearsay rule, the judge found.