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Appeal over $3.8 million Cardi B defamation ruling rejected

By | Published on Wednesday 22 March 2023

Cardi B

The Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court in the US has knocked back an attempt by YouTuber Latasha Kebe to appeal the $3.8 million ruling made against her in a defamation legal battle with Cardi B.

The judges say that Kebe failed to follow the correct procedure in challenging that ruling and also failed to clarify her specific issues regarding decisions in the district court over what evidence could be shared with the jury during the original court hearing.

Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almanzar – sued Kebe over various claims that the latter made about the former in her YouTube videos. That included, legal papers said, that Almanzar “was a prostitute … was a user of cocaine … had and still has herpes … had and still has HPV … engaged in a debasing act with a beer bottle and … committed infidelity”.

Almanzar denied all the allegations that Kebe had made, and told the court that false rumours spread by the YouTuber had had a negative impact on her mental health, resulting in the rapper becoming depressed and suicidal.

Kebe, meanwhile, basically admitted in court that she didn’t fact-check any of the allegations made about Almanzar on her YouTube channel, even when the rapper was actively denying those claims.

A jury found Kebe liable for defamation in January last year, awarding the rapper nearly $4 million in damages.

Kebe then began appeal proceedings in the Eleventh Circuit appeals court, arguing that it was never proven in court that she acted with actual malice when making her videos about Almanzar and that the exclusion of evidence about the rapper’s character in court resulted in a “very lopsided” hearing.

In their response, the appeal judges said yesterday: “There are two issues here. One is whether the jury had sufficient evidence to hold appellants – Latasha Kebe and others – liable for defamation (and other privacy torts) against appellee Belcalis Almanzar. The other is whether the district court erred by excluding evidence. We hold that Kebe hasn’t preserved either issue for appeal”.

It was on the first issue that judges said Kebe had failed to follow correct procedure. “Defendant Latasha Kebe asks for a new trial, saying that there was insufficient evidence for the jury verdict against her. But as she all but admits, she didn’t make … the required post-verdict motions in the district court. As a result, we have no authority to consider her insufficiency-of-the-evidence argument on appeal”.

Kebe did offer an argument as to why legal precedent in this domain should not apply, so allowing her to make a claim in the appeals court despite not filing the required motions in the lower court. But her interpretation of the law on this matter, the judges said, is simply “incorrect”.

“Kebe also failed to preserve her evidentiary arguments”, they then added. “Kebe didn’t adequately brief her challenges to the district court’s evidentiary rulings. Specifically, she never tells us where in the 5500-page record the district court’s alleged errors can be found … because Kebe’s brief falls well short of what we require, she has abandoned this argument”.

As a result, the original jury decision in the district court is affirmed.