MARSHALL, Texas (CN) - A teenage mom featured on the MTV show "16 and Pregnant" claims in court that Star Magazine and a website defamed her by suggesting she had a hand in her fiance's drowning death.
Kristina Head aka Kristina Robinson sued Chicory Media LLC dba Starcasm.net and American Media Inc. dba Star Magazine, in Harrison County Court.
Head claims that she and her family were present on April 30, 2011, when her late fiance Todd Hight Jr. drowned in an accident in Galveston.
Head appeared on "16 and Pregnant" after the drowning. She says in the complaint that "Todd Hight Jr.'s death was ruled an accidental drowning."
On its website, MTV calls its so-called reality show "an hour-long documentary series focusing on the controversial subject of teen pregnancy."
Head claims in the complaint that the defendants defamed her by publishing or republishing statements "that she was criminally involved in the drowning death of Todd Hight, Jr."
The dispute began with post-drowning, pre-broadcast comments that Hight's mother made on her son's Facebook page.
Hight's mother, Tina Hight, is not a party to the lawsuit.
The complaint states: "On February 26, 2012, prior to the airing of the television show, Todd Hight, Jr.'s mother, Tina Hight, posted on Todd Hight, Jr.'s Facebook, 'They were so determined about that trip and I believe that none of them in that family intended to bring my baby boy home, it was said by some that they were goin take the baby, my son toldem *OVER HIS DEAD BODY* and they killed him, and it dont [email protected]' This message, posted on Todd Hight, Jr.'s Facebook page, indirectly refers to plaintiff and states that she was criminally involved in the drowning death of Todd Hight, Jr."
Head claims that Starcasm.net republished the statement on its website on March 6, 2012.
"In addition to republishing the statement of Tina Hight verbatim, Starcasm as well published an article, accompanying the republished statements, entitled 'Mother of 16 and Pregnant's Todd Hight Jr. suggests his death may not have been an accident' which featured a picture of plaintiff and Todd Hight, Jr. and commentary linking the statements to plaintiff," the complaint states.
Three weeks later, sections of Tina's comments appeared in a Star Magazine article.
Head claims that Tina Hight's comments concerned a private matter, and that she "was not a public figure for purposes of the issue addressed" by the republished statements and articles, and that neither Starcasm.net nor Star Magazine qualifies as "a media defendant due to the nature of their publication."
She adds: "The issue of whether Todd Hight Jr. was murdered was not being discussed prior to the republication and only the immediate participants in that controversy were likely to feel the impact of its resolution."
Head seeks punitive damages for defamation, lost income and mental anguish.
She is represented by George Lake, with Lake and Turner.
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