Former Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Sues TMZ For Publishing His Recorded Conversation
from the that's-not-going-to-work dept
Donald Sterling, the disgraced former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, became the former owner last year after a tape of him scolding his girlfriend about appearing in public with “black people” became public. The controversy over his racist statements eventually resulted in him being fined and banned by the NBA, and forced to sell the team (which resulted in another dispute with his wife). Last week, Sterling and his wife finally filed for divorce, but Sterling has also now sued TMZ for originally publishing the audio of his conversation. He has also sued the girlfriend who recorded the tape, V. Stiviano. The lawsuit against Stiviano may actually have some basis in reality, given that California is (quite ridiculously) a “two party consent” state, whereby if you record audio of someone, they need to be aware that you’re doing so. This is problematic for all sorts of reasons, and it would be great if that law were struck down or changed, but at the very least it gives some basis for the lawsuit.
The lawsuit against TMZ, on the other hand, is completely crazy. Even if the original recording broke the law, that would have no impact whatsoever on TMZ’s legal right to then publish the recording — which was clearly newsworthy. It seems quite likely, in fact, that Sterling is about to learn the power of California’s anti-SLAPP law, as this lawsuit is pretty clearly a SLAPP attempt. And since Sterling filed his lawsuit in California, it would be shocking if TMZ doesn’t quickly go for the anti-SLAPP, which would get the case thrown out and potentially make Sterling pay the legal fees. There’s a decent chance that Stiviano might also be able to make use of the anti-SLAPP claim as well.
Either way, if the lawsuit does actually get anywhere (again, doubtful), it will undoubtedly be entertaining. Sterling has a history of making outlanddish and incredible statements in court, including this rather famous exchange from a 2003 deposition: