Lenny Dykstra Deemed 'Libel-Proof' In Defamation Suit Loss To Ron Darling And Publisher

from the strike-everything-you're-out dept

Defamation lawsuits often fail because of the high bar plaintiffs need to meet to prove defamation -- especially of a public figure. But, while there are lots of ways to lose a defamation lawsuit as a plaintiff, my favorite must certainly be the concept of a libel-proof plaintiff. This would be the notion that a plaintiff cannot be libeled or defamed if that plaintiff's reputation is so absolutely horrendous that further damage to it is impossible.

In rare cases, a plaintiff can be “libel-proof”, meaning he or she has a reputation so tarnished that it couldn’t be brought any lower, even by the publication of false statements of fact.

Now, these situations are indeed rare. After all, who out there is so broken in the eyes of society, so villainous, so viewed as low of a public figure in reputation as one can go -- Oh, hi there, Lenny Dykstra!

You may recall that in April of 2019 former Mets and Phillies outfielder Len Dykstra sued his former teammate and current Mets commentator Ron Darling for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit arose out of claims in Darling’s then recently-published autobiography alleging that Dykstra shouted racial slurs at Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd before Boyd took the mound in a 1986 World Series game. Dykstra lashed out at Darling over it, denying it ever happened and then filed suit. Then everyone went quiet.

That silence led up to the present, where the court has dismissed Dykstra's case entirely, noting that he is of such poor reputation that whether Darling's claims in his book are true or not, they hardly matter and won't move the needle on the public perception of him. A quick perusal of Dykstra's personal life section on his Wikipedia page tells you the whole story: steroid use, businesses in bankruptcy, credit card fraud, jail time. So, you know, not a guy of famed repute.

Which led the court to toss the case, stating that Dykstra is libel-proof.

The nature and seriousness of Dykstra’s criminal offenses, which include fraud, embezzlement, grand theft, and lewd conduct and assault with a deadly weapon, and notably the degree of publicity they received, have already established his general bad reputation for fairness and decency far worse than the alleged racially charged bench-jockeying in the reference could . . .

. . . Given the aforesaid litany of stories concerning Dykstra’s poor and mean-spirited behavior particularly toward various groups including racial minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community—this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference cannot “induce an evil opinion of [Dykstra] in the minds of right-thinking persons” or “deprive him of their friendly intercourse in society,” as that “evil opinion” has long existed.

And, in typical Dykstra fashion, he's not taking it particularly well. Instead, Dykstra is ranting on both the internet and to journalists, claiming that Darling faked his cancer diagnosis and treatment and that the owners of the NY Mets franchise were in on this fakery in some kind of scheme of fraud to achieve... something? It's all hard to follow, except that it sure looks like the very kind of defamation that Dykstra himself was complaining of. Oh, and the judge was bribed.

In the story, Dykstra claims, without any evidence whatsoever, that Ron Darling — who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent surgery for it last year — “faked his cancer,” and that “the Wilpons knew all about it, and they’re in on it.” He claims has has “documented proof” of his claim, though provided none of it to Miller. Miller previously reported that Dykstra “had some dirt” on Darling, but this is the first time he has publicly accused Darling of faking his cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Dykstra further claimed that the judge who dismissed his defamation suit against Darling was bribed, saying “obviously the judge was bleeping paid off or something . . . I don’t give a bleep.”

He may not, but Darling, the Mets owners, and the judge probably aren't also libel-proof.

Filed Under: defamation, lenny dykstra, libel-proof, ron darling


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  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 8:39pm

    Basically...

    If you're going to be a jerk, you have to accept being called a jerk, you jerk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 8:51pm

    Have we found Jhon Smith?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 8:57pm

    'Nothing they can say is worse that what you've done.'

    Being told by no less than a judge in a legal ruling that you are such a terrible person that it's basically impossible for someone to harm your reputation has got to sting, which I imagine explains the infantile tantrum they engaged in in response.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2020 @ 9:22pm

    Why not throw a tantrum?

    It's fun (for values of 'fun' conceivable for a man whose adult profession is playing a child's game.) And after all, it's not like it would hurt his reputation or anything....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    wshuff (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 4:57am

    In the current climate, yelling racial slurs probably raised Dykstra's standing in the eyes of some. His reputation was already so bad that be outed as a racist actually improved his standing with a segment of the population. He probably owes Darling some money for improving his image.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 6:13am

    Good Things

    If I say good things about Lenny, can he claim he's trying to maintain a bad reputation, and hence good things constitute defamation?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 9:18am

    "He may not, but Darling, the Mets owners, and the judge probably aren't also libel-proof."

    Given the person who is making the statements the Mets owners and the judge would have a high bar to clear if they claimed they were being libeled. I, mean, who the hell cares what Dykstra thinks or states. He has no credibility -- it's already been adjudicated that he has a reputation so vile that he can't be libeled. By the same adjudication no one should be able to take his statements seriously...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      Like career crank Tim Ball's libel of climate scientist Andrew Weaver - the judge essentially ruled it wasn't defamation in part because nobody with a functioning brain would believe Ball's ridiculous dumbass schreechings.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    seedeevee (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 6:50pm

    I have a sister-in-law that did the thing where you ask an old high school classmate (Dykstra) for tickets to his cool show (baseball game) . . . They lived in Orange County, CA . . .

    Lenny Dykstra replied "Have you ever sucked my dick?'

    Classy guy, classy guy. She didn't get the tix.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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