‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ Lawsuit Over ‘Titi’ Joke Tossed Out by Judge

Woman claimed that she was defamed by mispronunciation of her name

Ellen DeGeneres
Warner Bros. TV

Breast news ever for Ellen DeGeneres?

Warner Bros. Entertainment has prevailed in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed that she was defamed by an “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” segment that mispronounced her name for the purpose of a breast joke.

Georgia real estate agent Titi Pierce filed suit in June 2016, claiming that she suffered from ridicule and harassment after a segment titled “What’s Wrong With These Ads … and These Signs?” made light of her real estate signs.

Pierce’s suit contended that DeGeneres’s show aired Pierce’s signs and referred to her as “Titty Pierce.”

“Prior to defendant’s misdeeds, Ms. Pierce has been called only by her name ‘Titi,’ which, as grammar dictates, is pronounced ‘TEE TEE,’” her lawsuit read.

In an order filed Wednesday, federal judge Leslie J. Abrams poked holes all through Pierce’s theory, finding that she hadn’t been defamed.

“The title of the segment itself implies that there is something incorrect or entertaining about the forthcoming signs, and indicates that DeGeneres’ statements should not be taken literally,” Abrams found. “Nor could DeGeneres’s pronunciation be proven to be demonstrably false. The letter ‘i’ in the English language can be pronounced in several ways. While Plaintiff chooses to pronounce her name with ‘?”,’ there is nothing ‘demonstrably false’ in pronouncing it with ‘I’ as DeGeneres did. Nor would it have been defamatory to have pronounced Plaintiff’s name ‘tī-tī’ or ‘tĭ- tĭ,’ or any other possible permutation. That Plaintiff was insulted or embarrassed does not transform the different pronunciation into a false one.”

Abrams continued, “Furthermore, DeGeneres’ statement immediately succeeding her pronunciation of Plaintiff’s name, that she might have spent time in the Nipple Convalescent Home, could not reasonably be interpreted as stating or implying that Plaintiff did, in fact, spend time as such a home.”

In addition to the defamation claim, Abrams also tossed out Pierce’s other claims of false light invasion of privacy, misappropriation of likeness and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In a statement provided to TheWrap after the lawsuit was filed, the producers of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” said, “We try to have fun every day and make people laugh and never intend to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.