LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Delilah Lyons has ruled that a defamation suit against Nikki Benz has the merit to proceed, denying the adult performer’s SLAPP motion against director Tony T, denying the Benz demurrer, and denying her motion to strike punitive damages.
Last December, Benz claimed she had been sexually assaulted on set, and that the director had violated her consent during the filming of a hardcore BDSM scene for the adult conglomerate Mindgeek, owner of Brazzers and PornHub. Raw footage from the shoot, and interviews with a half-dozen others on set, refuted her claims.
“We feel incredibly vindicated by this,” said Karen Tynan, attorney from Tony T. “Benz went on Twitter to make outrageous claims that were easily refutable, but did tremendous damage to my client’s reputation and caused him to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts and business opportunities. This isn’t about silencing free speech, it’s about the consequences of making criminal allegations with no basis whatsoever. The Tony T suit against Benz will proceed.”
Benz had hoped to derail the defamation suit by filing a SLAPP motion against Tony T. SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, allow those making valid public statements to be inured from defamation suits. In the case of Benz, her claim was denied.
While Judge Lyons found that Nikki Benz’s statements were a “protected activity,” Tony T met his burden in showing that he had a probability of prevailing in his lawsuit on all causes of action. Tony T was also found to have properly alleged his right to punitive damages. Therefore, the judge denied the Benz motion to strike the punitive damages.
The judge gave Benz ten days to file her Answer. At the same hearing, Judge Lyons also heard Mindgeek’s SLAPP motion and granted the motion as to Mindgeek’s press release regarding Tony T. The judge found that Mindgeek, in issuing the press release firing Tony T, did not adopt Nikki Benz’s defamatory statements.