Bristol Palin Defamation Lawsuit Dismissed by Federal Judge

By Andrew Lu on November 05, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against Bristol Palin.

If you watch Palin's reality show "Life's a Tripp" on Lifetime, you may know Stephen Hawks as the man who heckled Palin on camera with crude remarks about her relationship with Levi Johnston and for calling Bristol's mother Sarah Palin a "whore," reports E! News.

Palin fired back at Hawks with suggestions that he was gay -- definitely not the most mature back-and-forth. With Palin seemingly getting the last word on camera, Hawks decided to strike back by suing the 21-year-old reality television star.

The argument started at a West Hollywood bar. Camera crews filming "Life's a Tripp" caught the exchange and aired some of it in the form of promos for the show, including the clip in which Bristol Palin questions Hawks' sexuality.

Hawks objected to his being used as an advertisement for the show, and brought the lawsuit against Palin. He said he never signed any waivers and did not give his consent to use the exchange on TV. He sued Palin for defamation, invasion of his right to privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and misappropriation of his right of publicity, reports E! News.

To win a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit, you generally have to prove that either there was a false statement carelessly made about you to third parties, or there was an intrusion into your personal life.

The problem with Hawks' lawsuit is that he reportedly started to heckle a reality TV star who had a camera crew following her. One would assume that there's a reasonably good chance that an argument with someone being filmed would wind up on-air; arguably, Hawks himself was likely responsible for anything said about him being aired.

If Hawks valued his privacy so much, he shouldn't have approached Bristol Palin. He probably only approached her because she had a camera crew in tow. As a result, the federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. To add insult to injury, Hawks was also ordered to pay Palin's legal fees.

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