Internet Porn Superstar Posts Win in Defamation Suit

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By Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson

July 26 — A “groundbreaking” internet porn star can continue her defamation suit against a popular U.K.-based tabloid after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit July 25 refused to bounce her claims ( Manzari v. Associated Newspapers Ltd., 2016 BL 237545, 9th Cir., No. 14-55329, 7/25/16 ).

California's anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation statute doesn't bar Leah Manzari's—better known as Danni Ashe—claim that the Daily Mail Online falsely implied that she had tested positive for HIV.

The 2013 article, entitled “Porn Industry Shuts Down With Immediate Effect After ‘Female Performer’ Tests Positive For HIV,” included a stock photo of Manzari with the caption: “Moratorium: The porn industry in California was shocked on Wednesday by the announcement that a performer had tested HIV positive,” the court said.

“Manzari has presented sufficient evidence to move forward with her claim that the Daily Mail Online employees acted with actual malice when they published the article implying that Manzari was an HIV-positive sex worker,” it said.

Manzari, whom the court called “a pioneer in the online adult entertainment industry,” will now return to the district court to pursue her claims.

Judge Mary Margaret McKeown wrote the court's opinion, which was joined by Judges Andrew J. Kleinfeld and Sandra Segal Ikuta.

Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz LLP, New York, and Leopold, Petrich & Smith P.C., Los Angeles, represented the Daily Mail Online. Wein Law Group LLP, Los Angeles, represented Manzari.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bna.com

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