LOS ANGELES (CN) – A California appeals court has upheld an order striking a slander suit filed by Jack Russell, the former leader of the rock band Great White, who claimed his publicist falsely accused him of stealing money from a fund set up for victims of a deadly 2003 fire in a Rhode Island nightclub that was sparked by the band’s pyrotechnics.
Shortly after the fire, which killed 100 people and injured more than 200, Russell and the band went on a tour to raise money for victims of the fire. His management company hired industry veteran Charrie Foglio to handle the band’s publicity and arrange the tour’s profits to go into the victims’ fund. Foglio was allegedly fired for her poor performance and dishonesty, but tried to convince Russell to fire the management company and hire her as his personal manager.
When he refused, he claimed Foglio falsely accused him and the head of the management company of stealing money from the victims’ fund. This accusation was allegedly made to the press, people in the music industry and Rolling Stone magazine, and was picked up by CNN Headline News.
Russell claimed the statements were false, defamatory and malicious, prompting venues to cancel his concerts.
Foglio successfully moved to strike the complaint, asserting her free-speech right to make statements on a matter of public interest. She also claimed that most of Russell’s charges were categorically false.
The court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to review the anti-SLAPP order because Russell failed to appeal until 10 months later, when he appealed the tax costs.
The court also upheld the attorney fee award, ruling that Foglio’s attorney was entitled to $300 an hour.