Artist News Legal

Phoebe Bridgers responds to sound engineer’s defamation lawsuit

By | Published on Tuesday 15 February 2022

Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers has hit back at a defamation lawsuit filed against her last year by recording engineer Chris Nelson. Seeking to have that lawsuit dismissed, Bridgers says that she believes statements she made about Nelson on Instagram were all true, and that his lawsuit should be dismissed on so called anti-SLAPP grounds.

In his lawsuit last year, Nelson – who owns the Sound Space recording studio in LA – said that his first contact with Bridgers related to a possible musical collaboration. That didn’t happen, but – in 2018 – he and his then-girlfriend “began having consensual sexual encounters” with the singer-songwriter.

He split from his girlfriend the following year but she and Bridgers “continued their relationship”, he claimed. Then, in October 2020, Bridgers made a number of allegations of abuse and misconduct against Nelson on Instagram, while also directing her followers to his ex-girlfriend’s account on the platform where further allegations against him had been made

Those allegations included that he sold fake rare guitars, stole tens of thousands of dollars from a neighbour and hacked women’s email accounts, and that he was also guilty of “racially motivated hate crimes”, including beating “a young Latinx man to death” and “bludgeoned at least one other man with a baseball bat”.

All of these allegations are false, Nelson argued in his lawsuit, and Bridgers “intentionally used her high-profile public platform on Instagram to publish false and defamatory statements regarding [Nelson] in order to destroy his reputation”.

In her response to that lawsuit, according to Pitchfork, Bridgers states: “I believe that the statements I made in my Instagram story are true. My statements were made based on my personal knowledge, including statements I personally heard Mr Nelson make, as well as my own observations. I continue to believe the statements that I made were true”.

Her lawyers argue that Nelson’s lawsuit should be dismissed on anti-SLAPP grounds. Anti-SLAPP – or anti “strategic lawsuit against public participation” – rules are designed to stop people limiting the free speech of others through unwarranted litigation. Her motion to dismiss states: “This case presents a straightforward application of the anti-SLAPP statute”.

Pitchfork also notes that Nelson targeted another singer-songwriter with a defamation lawsuit prior to the claim against Bridgers. The defendant in that case was Noël Wells who was accused of defaming Nelson in a message she sent to a band about her experiences working with the recording engineer. That lawsuit was dismissed by an LA court judge last month.