David Mueller said Taylor Swift got him fired from the Denver-based radio station KYGO in 2013 after she accused him of grabbing her backside during a photo op. U.S. District Judge William Martinez dismissed both of Mueller’s slander claims this week, ruling that penalizing Swift for reporting a sexual assault could discourage other victims from reporting their experiences.
“There would appear to be nothing improper about Swift—or any other person—making an honest report to an entity with which she does business that one of its employees assaulted or harassed her,” Martinez wrote in his 37-page order.
“The policy of the law should encourage the reporting of actual assaults, not attach liability to it,” Martinez continued.
Mueller, who is represented by Gabriel McFarland from Evans & McFarland in Golden, Colorado, sued Swift in Denver County District Court in May 2015. His complaint claims he never touched Swift inappropriately during the meet-and-greet, and that Swift’s accusations cost him his job and damaged his reputation.
The case was removed to Colorado federal court in September, after which Swift countersued Mueller for battery and sexual assault.
While Mueller cannot pursue the slander claims at the upcoming trial in August, Swift will have to prove that her team did not wrongfully interfere with Mueller’s employment contract. Judge Martinez found that a jury would need to determine whether Swift’s team “improperly applied economic pressure on KYGO to cause Mueller’s termination.”
The order says communications between KYGO’s vice president, Robert Call, and Swift’s radio promotions director Frank Bell, could suggest the radio station was pressured into firing Mueller two days after the incident.
“Call’s notes reflect that Bell emphasized to him the importance of the relationship between KYGO and ‘the Taylor team,’ which Call noted ‘could be gravely impacted’ if KYGO did not act against Mueller,” the order says.
Swift is represented by Brian Schwalb of Venable Law in Washington, D.C. The trial is set to begin Aug. 7.