Richard Simmons might have good reason to sweat right now — but it would have nothing to do with the oldies, but rather the massive legal bill he could be facing.
Fitness guru Simmons could owe National Enquirer publisher American Media more than $200,000 in legal fees, after launching a failed libel lawsuit over reports that he had undergone a sex change.
Simmons filed suit in May, taking aim at reports from the Enquirer and its sister publication Radar Online, which is also named as a defendant in the suit.
However, a judge ultimately sided with the National Enquirer and the other defendants, granting their special motion to strike Simmons’ complaint.
The judge also ordered that the defendants should be able to recover attorneys’ fees and costs of the suit, and now the defendants have filed papers declaring what they feel they’re owed.
“By this Fee Motion, Defendants now ask the Court to award them fees in the amount of $221,888 as reimbursement for the attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in defending against Simmons’ meritless [First Amended Complaint], as well as any amounts incurred in bringing this Motion,” the papers read.
Of course, it will ultimately be up to a judge to sign off on that amount. Also of course, this amount doesn’t count what Simmons shelled out to bring the lawsuit, so Simmons might have to dig deep before he’s paid his way out of the situation.
The complaint alleged that the publications “have cheaply and crassly commercialized and sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity. Principles of freedom of speech and press may protect their prerogative to mock and degrade the LGBTQ community.”
The suit continued, “But freedom to speak is not freedom to defame. Mr. Simmons, like every person in this nation, has a legal right to insist that he not be portrayed as someone he is not. Even the most ardent supporter of sexual autonomy and LGBTQ rights is entitled to be portrayed in a manner that is truthful.”
However, a judge saw otherwise, granting the defendants’ special motion to strike Simmons’ complaint.
“[T]he court now arrives at the heart of this issue: does falsely reporting that a person is transgender have a natural tendency to injury [sic] one’s reputation?” the judge’s tentative ruling read. “This court finds that because courts have long held that a misidentification of certain immutable characteristics do not naturally tend to injure one’s reputation, even if there is sizeable portion of the population who hold prejudices against those characteristics, misidentification of a person as transgender is not actionable defamation absent special damages.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.