A jury can decide whether the author of a bestselling book about the death of Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith defamed her lawyer by making allegations that may be too outlandish to be true, including that he pimped her to up to 50 men a year, a judge concluded Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin found plenty of reasons to let a jury hear the facts behind a $60-million libel lawsuit brought by lawyer Howard K. Stern against "Blonde Ambition" author Rita Cosby, a veteran television news anchor and "Inside Edition" correspondent.
Stern attorney L. Lin Wood said his client was "very pleased" with the judge's decision to let a jury decide whether Cosby defamed him with claims that Smith thought he was involved in her son's death, that he had pimped her out and that he had engaged in sex with Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith's daughter. "Those areas," Wood said, "were the heart and soul of our complaint."
Cosby lawyer Elizabeth A. McNamara said she was gratified the judge had dismissed some of the statements at issue in the case and was "fully confident" the jury would dismiss the others.