Rebel Wil­son's $4.5m defama­tion dam­ages slashed to $600,000

The Guardian Australia - - News - Amanda Meade

Rebel Wil­son’s record $4.5m dam­ages win for defama­tion by Bauer Me­dia has been re­duced to just $600,000 on ap­peal.

The Hol­ly­wood star has been left with an award of $600,ooo for gen­eral dam­ages only af­ter her claim for spe­cial dam­ages was re­jected by three judges of the ap­peals court.

The Vic­to­rian supreme court ruled on Thursday morn­ing that the Aus­tralian ac­tor had not proved that she lost work and suf­fered eco­nomic dam­ages in Hol­ly­wood as a re­sult of the defam­a­tory ar­ti­cles which painted her as a se­rial liar.

The ap­peal court said the defama­tion caused “hurt and dis­tress” and re­assessed her dam­ages for non-eco­nomic loss, in­clud­ing ag­gra­vated com­pen­satory dam­ages, down from $650,000 to $600,000.

But it re­jected her claim of lost op­por­tu­nity to be of­fered and then cast in lead or co-lead roles in Hol­ly­wood movies at ba­sic re­mu­ner­a­tion of US$5 mil­lion or more which she claimed had been can­celled af­ter the ar­ti­cles were pub­lished.

“The court of ap­peal held that, for a con­sid­er­able num­ber of rea­sons, the crit­i­cal in­fer­ences drawn by the judge could not be up­held,” the judg­ment said.

“It fol­lowed that the judge’s award of dam­ages for eco­nomic loss had to be set aside. Fur­ther, there was no ba­sis in the ev­i­dence for mak­ing any award of dam­ages for eco­nomic loss. The court is yet to de­ter­mine the is­sues of in­ter­est and costs.”

Wil­son said on so­cial me­dia on Wednesday that she had al­ready won her defama­tion trial and she hoped the court would up­hold her dam­ages pay­ment so she could do­nate the money to char­ity and to­wards de­vel­op­ing the Aus­tralian film in­dus­try.

But the judge ac­cepted Bauer’s argument that there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence Wil­son lost mil­lions in po­ten­tial earn­ings as re­sult of sev­eral defam­a­tory ar­ti­cles in Aus­tralian mag­a­zines.

She was awarded more than $4.5m in dam­ages by Jus­tice John Dixon plus in­ter­est and court costs, in her li­bel case against the mag­a­zine pub­lisher.

The award com­prised $650,000in gen­eral dam­ages, in­clud­ing ag­gra­vated dam­ages, and $3,917,472 in spe­cial dam­ages for op­por­tu­ni­ties of screen roles lost be­cause of the ar­ti­cles.

In June last year a six-per­son jury found in favour of Wil­son’s claim against the pub­lisher of Woman’s Day and the Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly.

The jury had been asked to con­sider 40 ques­tions and eight claims of defama­tion re­lat­ing to a se­ries of ar­ti­cles ac­cus­ing Wil­son of ly­ing about her age, real name and child­hood.

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