‘Billions’ Showrunners, Showtime Win Defamation Lawsuit as Judge Dismisses Case

Lawsuit was over an episode titled “Fight Night”

Last Updated: July 21, 2020 @ 1:02 PM

A judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit that was filed last year by the Cayuga Nation against Showtime and the showrunners of “Billions.”

In the May 2019 episode, the character of Chuck Rhoades (played by Paul Giamatti) seeks the help of his father, who is depicted as having a close connection with the “Cayuga Iroquois,” to leverage the support of the nation to launch a pilot program for mobile election voting.

In a ruling handed down on July 17, the judge said that the Cayuga Nation itself could not sue for defamation because the allegedly defamatory material was “directed against a governing body and how it governed, rather than against its individual members.”

Clint Halftown, a council member of the Cayuga Nation, said the episode of “Billions” defamed him personally with its depiction of a character named Jane Halftown, who engaged in illegal revenue-sharing generated from a casino and was complicit in coercing a public official. In this instance, the judge decided that since the character was a woman, and that Clint Halftown was never involved in anything similar to what was depicted on the show, the lawsuit failed to establish that he was defamed by the episode.

The tribe also alleged that their likeness was misappropriated by the “Billions” episode as well, but that claim was also denied.

“[Showtime] did little service to the Nation’s rich history, and … chose instead to portray the Nation and Mr. Halftown as being involved in unscrupulous dealings and even criminal conduct,” the original lawsuit stated. “In this episode of ‘Billions’ is a deliberate and intentional resort to an offensive stereotype of Native Americans as irresponsible, corruptible, and even criminal, thereby exposing the Cayuga Nation and Mr. Halftown to public contempt, aversion, and disgrace.”

The Cayuga Nation has yet to respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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