Boxer Mayweather Can’t Duck Ex-Girlfriend’s Defamation Jab

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By Bernie Pazanowski

Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather must face a defamation claim by his ex-girlfriend that arose out of a statement he made to Katie Couric during an interview, the California Court of Appeal said in an unpublished opinion July 16.

Mayweather pled guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from a domestic violence incident with Josie Harris, his ex-girlfriend and mother of three children with him. Mayweather told Couric he didn’t “kick, stomp, and beat” Harris but rather, “restrained a woman that was on drugs.”

Harris claimed the comment falsely asserted she is a drug addict. Mayweather responded that his comment fell under California’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law, which protects statements made in a public forum about issues of public concern.

The interview posted on Yahoo! Global News was a public statement on domestic violence, which is an issue of public concern, the court said.

Nevertheless, Harris’ evidence shows Mayweather’s statement was made with malice, that the drugs found in her system after the incident wouldn’t cause her to need restraining, and that third parties already interpreted the statement to mean Mayweather was the “victim of a lying, drugged-up ex-girlfriend,” the court said.

Justice Jeffrey W. Johnson wrote the opinion, which was joined by Justices Frances Rothschild and Helen I. Bendix.

Rick Edwards Inc. represented Mayweather. Law Office of Daniel Friedlander represented Harris.

The case is Harris v. Mayweather, 2018 BL 251386, Cal. Ct. App., 2d Dist., No. B276174, 7/16/18.

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