LOS ANGELES (CN) — A California appeals court agreed with fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. that his disclosures about an ex-fiancee who underwent an abortion did not invade her privacy.
The bitter parting described in the April 19 becomes nearly as brutal at times as one of Mayweather’s 49 professional fights. Mayweather argued in his motion to dismiss that he and Shantal Jackson “were in the public eye and abortion is a topic of widespread public interest,” and the appeals panel agreed.
Reversing for Mayweather, the Second Appellate District ruled that the trial court should have dismissed Jackson’s claims for defamation, false light and public disclosure of private facts about her cosmetic surgery.
“Jackson’s complaint … recounted a detailed story of the on-again, off-again abusive relationship between a young aspiring model and actress and a highly successful, well-known professional boxer,” Presiding Judge Dennis Perluss wrote for the three-judge panel.
Jackson describes meeting Mayweather when she was 21 and working as a hostess at an event in Atlanta. They soon became a “highly publicized celebrity couple for a number of years,” Perluss wrote.
Jackson claims Mayweather assaulted her after being releases from jail in August 2012 for domestic assault of another woman, twisting her arm, choking her and taking her cellphone by force so he could search it.
She also claims Mayweather threatened to shoot her toe with a handgun and removed a $2.5 million diamond ring from her finger and other jewelry she was wearing. And, she says, he sent associates to break into a storage unit in Los Angeles and steal more than $1 million worth of property.
Mayweather has been sued dozens of times all over the country on a variety of claims, according to the Courthouse News database. He has been charged criminally with domestic violence and three times given suspended jail sentences, and jailed at least once.
Despite their troubles, Jackson stayed with Mayweather and says she became pregnant with twins in November 2013. She says she had an abortion in January 2014, informed Mayweather, and they broke up soon after.
When she began dating rapper Nelly, she says, Mayweather threatened to post naked pictures of her on his social media accounts.
On May 1, 2014, Mayweather posted on his Facebook and Instagram accounts: “The real reason me and Shantel Christine Jackson @MissJackson broke up was because she got an abortion, and I’m totally against killing babies. She killed our twin babies,” Perluss wrote in his summation. Mayweather also posted copies of a sonogram showing the twin fetuses and a medical report regarding Jackson’s pregnancy, which TMZ republished on its website. Mayweather also discussed the abortion and Jackson’s many cosmetic surgeries during a subsequent radio interview, which triggered her lawsuit.
Mayweather claims that Jackson made herself a celebrity via television and radio appearances, a personal website and social media, where she has more than 78,000 Twitter and 258,000 Instagram followers. Therefore, the fighter says, she “surrendered her right to privacy when she made herself newsworthy by virtue of her relationship with Mayweather.”
Mayweather claims she willingly participated in publication of private details of their relationship, including sharing him with other women, and that the reasons for the relationship’s demise are equally newsworthy and his statement protected by the First Amendment. He says the statements he made about their breakup were neither false nor made with malice.
In opposing the motion to dismiss five of her 11 claims, Jackson said her pregnancy, abortion, medical reports and cosmetic surgeries are private. She said Mayweather lied about the extent of her cosmetic surgeries, and falsely claimed she aborted the twins due to concerns about her looks and the impact on her body.
“According to Jackson, the posting and false statements by Mayweather caused a massive negative public reaction, which included death threats and offensive comments describing her as a ‘baby killer’ and a ‘whore,’” Perluss wrote.
The appeals panel saw no reason to leave it for a jury to decide whether Mayweather’s statements were newsworthy or otherwise protected by the First Amendment.
“The evidence unequivocally established, as Jackson concedes, that she and Mayweather are both high-profile individuals who were subject to extensive media scrutiny,” Perluss wrote.
Mayweather’s comments amounted to “celebrity gossip” and were a matter of public interest, the 39-page ruling continues.
The panel noted that Mayweather is a five-time world boxing champion and once was the world’s highest paid athlete, and Jackson willfully participated in publishing information about her life and her relationship with him.
“Indeed, according to Mayweather, Jackson asked him to help her become famous, which he did,” Perluss wrote. Mayweather’s comments and actions “arose from protected activity,” so the panel reversed the denial of his motion to dismiss five of the 11 claims.
The panel, which includes Justices Laurie Zelon and John Segal, made its ruling on March 27 but it was not certified for publication until Wednesday.