Artist News Legal

Cardi B returns to court to get defamatory videos taken offline

By | Published on Monday 7 March 2022

Cardi B

Cardi B has returned to court in a bid to get an injunction forcing YouTuber Latasha Kebe to take down a number of the videos that featured in the rapper’s recent defamation lawsuit against the video maker.

At the end of a January court case, Kebe was ordered to pay Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almanzar – $4 million in damages in relation to various defamatory claims she previously made on her YouTube channel. That included 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”.

During the court hearing Kebe basically admitted 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 allegations, and even when they were being made by a guest that she suspected was lying. She also insisted that most of the allegations that featured in her videos were simply “opinions”, even though that’s not how they were usually framed in the videos themselves.

Almanzar and her legal team, meanwhile, discussed the impact that the various allegations had on the rapper’s mental health – a defamation claim needing to show damage as well as untruths. The rapper herself discussed how the widespread public speculation sparked by the rumours that were spread by Kebe made her depressed and suicidal.

The jury considering the case quickly sided with Almanzar, finding Kebe liable for defamation and awarding the rapper the $4 million in damages. However, there remains the matter of the videos that contained the defamatory remarks. Some have been removed from Kebe’s YouTube channel, but some remain online, streaming away and earning the YouTuber traffic and money.

Both before and during the court hearing, Kebe was adamant that she would only remove all the videos that include defamatory statements if specifically ordered to do so in an injunction. Which is why the Almanzar side is now requesting that injunction.

In a legal filing last week, the rapper’s legal team quoted questions that Kebe was asked by Almanzar’s attorney during the court hearing. That included the following: “Unless someone actually forces you to, you are never going to stop repeating these statements about my client?”; “The only way at this point these videos are ever going to come down is if this court forces you to; is that right?”; and “are you essentially saying that to stop you from calling my client Cold Sore B my client needs to get a gag order?” In all three cases Kebe basically said “that is correct”.

Anticipating free speech arguments against – and lots of First Amendment waffling in relation to – the requested injunction, Almanzar’s filing also stated: “Plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction that is not worded more broadly than is necessary to address the defamatory statements that were the subject of this action and that were found defamatory by the jury in this case”.

“Specifically”, it went on, “plaintiff is only seeking to require defendants to remove any videos and posts that contain the defamatory statements from their social media accounts and to enjoin defendants from republishing those same statements. In other words, the proposed injunction will only affect speech that has been found defamatory and thus is not subject to First Amendment protection, which is consistent with the federal and state constitutions and the weight of authority on this issue”.

Kebe, of course, is appealing the wider defamation judgement against her, and has also submitted a response to last week’s injunction request, arguing that the rapper must show that she will continue to be damaged if the targeted videos stay online.

“Plaintiff has the burden of establishing that there is a vital necessity for a permanent injunction and that, without one, plaintiff will continue to be damaged and remain without an adequate remedy at law”, Kebe’s response stated. “Even though this court has great discretion when deciding whether to issue an injunction, the defendants doubt that plaintiff can satisfy her burden of proof”.