Former UCLA men’s basketball student-athlete Reeves Nelson’s defamation lawsuit against Time Inc., the parent company of Sports Illustrated, has been dismissed.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy wrote that Nelson’s suit infringed upon Sports Illustrated reporter George Dohrmann’s right to free speech. She also pointed out that Dohrmann had numerous sources supporting the facts referenced in the article “Not the UCLA Way” and, further, stated “[t]his man spent a lot of time and talked to a lot of people.”
Nelson, who filed suit against the magazine on March 5, 2012, was seeking damages of $10 million pursuant to theories of defamation, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
According to the lawsuit, Nelson took umbrage at being labeled a “psychotic bully” and claimed the instances identified in the article in which he was accused of bullying were false. Nelson also alleged that the anonymous quotes referenced in the article have been confirmed as not attributable to any of his Nelson’s UCLA teammates and, thus, were exaggerated and false.
Nelson’s attorney, Olaf Muller, reportedly argued during the hearing that the judge’s finding that Nelson was a limited public figure, who had to demonstrate that Sports Illustrated and Dohrmann acted with malice toward him, was flawed, since Nelson was a college athlete at the time,
Sports illustrated issued the following statement: “We have stood behind the reporting of our Pulitzer Prize-winning writer since Day One. We are pleased that after reviewing the case, the court agreed it should be dismissed.”
Adding insult to injury, the Los Angeles Lakers waived Nelson on October 20.