Man Says Palin TV Show Defames Him as Gay Heckler

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A man who was filmed arguing with Bristol Palin in a Los Angeles bar has sued the reality star for defamation, claiming that she used video of the incident without his permission to promote her Lifetime show “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp.”
     Palin and her son Tripp became household names when Sen. John McCain selected her mother as his running mate in the 2008 presidential campaign. The teen mom went on to compete on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2010 and made appearances on “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” and the short-lived “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”
     Lifetime ordered 10 episodes of “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp,” which is set to premiere this fall.
     Earlier this year, Palin told In Touch magazine that she had decided to leave Los Angeles after an encounter at the Saddle Ranch Chop bar in West Hollywood with a man who “accosted” her and “hurled nasty insults” about her mother.
     “I wasn’t really into the Hollywood thing,” Palin told In Touch. “After that, I just realized that I was over it. I was ready to come home.”
     In video shot last fall, Palin is shown riding a mechanical bull as someone calls her mother a “whore.” She then confronts the man, who calls Sarah Palin the “fucking devil.”
     Palin responds: “All right, is it because you’re homosexual?”
     “Pretty much,” the man responds.
     Now that man has filed a federal complaint against Palin and Lifetime’s parent A&E Television Networks, identifying himself as Stephen Hanks.
     The lawsuit, which seeks punitive damages for invasion of privacy, emotional distress and misappropriation of right of publicity, describes the encounter with Palin somewhat differently than it appears on video.
     Hanks says he had been drinking with friends at the Western-themed bar on Sept. 22, 2011.
     “While at the bar, plaintiff overheard nearby patrons discussing the fact that Bristol Palin was inside the bar, riding the mechanical bull,” the complaint says. “The patrons were discussing their general disagreement with the politics of Bristol Palin’s mother, Sarah Palin. Then, one of the patrons at the bar yelled something out about Sarah Palin’s political views. Soon thereafter, several other patrons, including plaintiff, began to comment on Sarah Palin’s political views.”
     “Suddenly, Bristol Palin approached plaintiff from behind as he was at the bar with his back to her,” the complaint continues. “After confronting plaintiff, Ms. Palin stated, in a condescending and demeaning tone, that she believed plaintiff did not like her mother because ‘you are a homosexual.’ She further stated that she could ‘tell’ that plaintiff was ‘a homosexual’ by the way he looked.”
     Hanks says he later realized he had been filmed for Palin’s abandoned reality show on the Bio network, but claims he neither signed a release nor gave anyone permission to use the footage.
     Palin had decided to leave California long before she encountered Hanks, and had bought a new home in Alaska more than two months before, the complaint states.
     Hanks says A&E, which also owns the Bio network, has been using the footage to promote the Lifetime program.
     He is represented by Michael Gulden of Gulden & Associates.
     A&E declined to comment.

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