Actor James Woods Sued for Twitter Defamation Claim

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 16, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Actor James Woods has been sued because of a tweet he posted misidentifying an Ohio woman, Portia Boulger, as an Illinois Nazi and Trump supporter. As a result of the misidentification, the plaintiff, Ms. Boulger, became the victim of extreme harassment, both online and off, including threats to her personal safety.

Despite her requesting a retraction and apology through an attorney, James Woods exacerbated the situation and allegedly made further untruthful statements about Ms. Boulger via Twitter. To date, he has not apologized for his conduct, and based upon limited information, it appears that he plans to fight these allegations.

The Tweet Heard Around the World Wide Web

According to the lawsuit, on March 11, 2016, a photo was posted by the Chicago Tribune newspaper that showed a female Trump supporter, in a Trump t-shirt, at a Trump rally in Chicago, giving the Nazi salute, commonly referred to as the "heil Hitler." The same photo was reposted by several other Twitter users that same night.

However, the next day, a Twitter user well known for attacking liberals, reposted the same photo with a caption and misidentified Ms. Boulgar as the Illinois Nazi woman. Then, actor James Woods, also well known for his unproductive use of Twitter, tweeted the captioned photo along with a remark calling out Ms. Boulger (though the tweet itself did not name her, the photo caption provided the connection). Woods's tweet read: "So-called #Trump 'Nazi' is a #Bernie Sanders agitator/operative?" And after that, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted Woods's tweet, and remarked that: "apparently you don't read the news. She runs Bernie Sander's women for Bernie site. It's all staged."

Despite the fact that the first Twitter user that misidentified Ms. Boulger issued a prompt retraction upon learning the truth, and the fact that Donald Trump Jr. immediately deleted his tweets upon learning the truth, Woods did not. Even after both the Chicago Tribune and New York Times ran stories positively identifying the real Illinois Nazi, Woods left his tweet up. The tweet was published to Woods's 350,000 Twitter followers and retweeted over 5,000 times.

Although Woods appears to be ready to litigate this claim, based on what constitutes defamation, legally, this case may not be in the public eye for very long. It's probably a safe bet that this will end with a confidential settlement agreement with no admission of liability.

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