Seinfeld wins slander case

'Comedians have a right to tell jokes'

Jerry Seinfeld has won a legal battle described as ‘a victory for the right of comedians to tell jokes’.

The comic had been sued for defamation for calling an author ‘wacko’ and ‘a nut job’ on David Letterman’s talk show – but a New York state judge has now thrown out the case.

Missy Chase Lapinehad previously sued Seinfeld’s wife Jessica, claiming that she had stolen ideas for her cookbook from Lapine’s title The Sneaky Chef.

Talking about the plagiarism case on Letterman’s show, Seinfeld called her ‘angry and hysterical’ and likened her to a stalker – comments Lapine claimed constituted a ‘malicious, premeditated and knowingly false and defamatory attack’.

However, in her ruling judge Marcy Friedman said: ‘As statements of opinion… they are not actionable.

‘The court finds it inconceivable that a reasonable viewer would have believed that Seinfeld’s statements were conveying facts about Lapine.’

Orin Snyder, from Seinfeld’s legal team ,told the Bloomberg press agency: ‘Today’s decision is a complete victory for Jerry - and also a victory for the First Amendment and the right of comedians to tell jokes.’

Lapine’s claims of plagiarism were thrown out by a federal judge in 2009.

Published: 26 Feb 2011

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