The case involving actor Rob Lowe now has a countersuit by one of the three former employees sued by Lowe and his wife. Former nanny Jessica Gibson charges Lowe with exposing himself and touching her inappropriately several times between September 2005 and January 2008. It is a good thing that Mary Poppins was written before nannies became litigation magnets.
As discussed earlier, here, Lowe sued his nanny and two others in what appears a preemptive lawsuit. He claims that Gibson and others sought to coerce him to give him money to stay silent. He said she demanded $1.5 million .
Gibson is being represented by Gloria Allred, who has allowed her client to go public with allegations. This is a risky business since, while legal filings are privileged in defamation actions, public comments are not given the same protection. Defamation cases are becoming more common for such out of court statements, click here.
Under the Restatement Second of Torts:
An attorney at law is absolutely privileged to publish defamatory matter concerning another in communications preliminary to a proposed judicial proceeding, or in the institution of, or during the course and as part of, a judicial proceeding in which he participates as counsel, if it has some relation to the proceeding.
Usually, the sending of complaints to media or the statement of what a complaint contains is still privilege. However, Pennsylvania surprised the bar with a decision in Bochetto v. Gibson in 2004, when it reversed a lower court. It found that attorney Kevin Gibson could be sued for allegedly false and defamatory comments contained in a legal malpractice complaint after he gave a copy to a reporter.
Allred’s and Gibson’s public comments could raise some interesting questions along these lines.
Lowe allegedly has a confidentiality agreement making public statements more problematic. Of course, Gibson could cite Mary Poppins’ view and argue “that’s a pie crust promise; easily made, easily broken!”
For the full story, click here.