Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton accused of libel after reporting that jeweler had been found guilty of fraud
Angelina Jolie's engagement ring reportedly set Brad Pitt back a cool $500,000. And it could end up costing Perez Hilton the same.
Gossip blogger Hilton (real name: Mario Armando Lavandeira) has been slapped with a lawsuit after reporting that the man who designed Jolie's ring had previously been found guilty of fraud.
Hilton's report, published April 17 on his Coco Perez offshoot site, claimed that jeweler Robert Procop, who designed the ring with Pitt, had previously been successfully sued for fraud by a customer named Roy Allenstein. Allenstein supposedly discovered that the necklace he purchased from Procop contained only 17.62 carats of diamonds instead of 25.5 carats after having it appraised.
The report goes on to claim that the court awarded Allenstein $89,000 in the suit.
But Procop says that's a lie, and now Hilton has found himself in a real-life court drama.
"The statements that Plaintiff was 'guilty' of fraud in connection with his jewelry business and that a court had awarded a judgment against him for that fraud is libelous on its face," the suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles, reads. "Those statements expose Plaintiff to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy and they naturally have a tendency to injure Plaintiff in his occupation as a jeweler and jewelry designer."
Hilton has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.
Procop's attorney told TheWrap that, not only wasn't there a judgment rendered against his client, but there was never a trial alleging that he'd defrauded a customer.
The CocoPerez report was apparently derived from a RadarOnline report, to which it links. That story has been taken down, at the request of Procop's attorney, but according to the attorney it also claimed that a judgment had been awarded against Procop. (RadarOnline, which is not named in the lawsuit, has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.)
According to the suit, Hilton "refused to retract the defamatory statements and take down the Article from his web site even after he was informed of their falsity."
Procop is seeking more than $500,000 in general damages, plus special and punitive damages" in a sum sufficient to punish and deter Defendant from engaging in such conduct in the future."
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
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