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Cardi B’s defamation case against YouTuber will head to court in September

By | Published on Monday 12 July 2021

Cardi B

A defamation action being pursued by Cardi B against YouTuber Latasha Kebe will proceed to court after a judge declined to issue a summary judgement in the rapper’s favour. Although the same judge did dismiss some counterclaims that had been made by Kebe.

Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almanzar – sued Kebe in March 2019 in relation to a number of videos the YouTuber had posted to her unWinewithTashaK channel. In a lawsuit filed with the courts in the US state of Georgia, where Kebe lives, it was claimed that the YouTuber had variously stated, in her videos, 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”.

In her subsequent counterclaim, Kebe said that – since December 2018 – she had been receiving threatening messages, both on her social media and via phone calls, from both Almanzar’s fans, and also an associate of the rapper who is a member of a violent gang. The threats forced Kebe – who was experiencing a high-risk pregnancy at the time – to relocate her family over fears for their safety.

These claims and counterclaims continued to work their way through the courts throughout last year until, on 20 Dec 2020, Almanzar filed a motion seeking summary judgement in her favour on the defamation claim and the dismissal of Kebe’s counterclaims.

On the latter point, judge William M Ray II last week complied. He concluded that there was no proof that Almanzar herself had threatened – or encouraged anyone else to threaten – Kebe. And the YouTuber, he wrote in his judgement, had “failed to demonstrate … that the threats she alleges occurred were directed by plaintiff or committed by an agent acting on plaintiff’s behalf”.

He went on: “The court acknowledges that Kebe may have been in a particularly precarious situation because of her high-risk pregnancy that plaintiff and others knew about. Yet, without proof that these alleged threats and comments were attributable to plaintiff, Kebe has failed to establish causation”.

However, with regard to the defamation claims, a summary judgement would not be appropriate, Ray added. For starters, there are still too many questions over whether or not any of the statements made by Kebe were in fact true.

And, given that Almanzar is considered a public figure, under the laws of Georgia she must demonstrate that Kebe knew she was making untrue statements – or was reckless in failing to ascertain the truth of her statements – in order to prove defamation.

All of these things, Ray concluded, were matters for a jury.

“There is a genuine dispute of material fact about whether all the statements that defendant Kebe made were in fact false and defamatory”, the judge wrote. “Although plaintiff vehemently denies the information contained in the statements, defendant Kebe has represented to the court through video evidence that plaintiff has at least admitted to being a prostitute and as to her use of drugs”.

“For example, in a video produced in opposition to plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment”, he continued, “it appears that plaintiff is discussing engaging in sexual acts for money. In that same video, plaintiff discusses her use of drugs and about having to ‘pop pills’ sometimes when necessary”.

“As to defendant Kebe’s other assertions, such as claiming that plaintiff has herpes, Kebe allegedly saw a photo that plaintiff posted online in which plaintiff had visible cold sores”.

The judge then concluded: “Assuming, of course, that Kebe’s testimony is admissible, it is at least possible that a reasonable jury might believe that these alleged defamatory statements made by defendant Kebe are true”.

Legal reps for Almanzar told Law360 that they were pleased Kebe’s “baseless” counterclaims had been dismissed, and that they were now confident they’d prove the defamation claims in court. The video in which Card B talks about being a prostitute, they added, was a Halloween prank.

Assuming no settlement is reached over the summer, the case is now due to reach a courtroom in Atlanta on 10 Sep.