On January 24, 2022, Rapper Cardi B won a defamation case against Youtuber Latasha Kebe (“Kebe”) and her company, Kebe Studios. An eight-person jury in Georgia awardedCardi B $1.25 million in damages (including $250,000 in medical expenses) for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury later increased that amount by another $2.8 million, to reflect medical expenses and punitive damages.
Lisa Moore, Cardi B’s attorney, said “for years, the defendants have knowingly and intentionally published defamatory statements for-profit and to torture [Cardi B] out of spite.” In her videos, Kebe made claims including that Cardi B is a prostitute, has herpes, took illegal drugs, and cheated on her husband, Offset.
Kebe claims that she is a journalist. Cardi B’s attorney said that Kebe “admitted that she frequently tells viewers lies about various issues, including whether” she has evidence to back up her stories. Kebe herself said she had a personal vendetta against Cardi B, saying she knew “that shit [her statements] was fake” and she “still made it go viral.” Kebe went on to say she was “being petty just to be motherf*cking petty.”
Kebe’s lawyer, on the other hand, argued that Kebe fully investigated all claims she made and that Cardi B was not giving the jury enough context to the statements Kebe made. She also argued that Cardi B could not prove that Kebe acted with “malice” (even though Kebe herself said she did) and that her medical records could not be proven because they were under an alias. Cardi B said that her records were under an alias to protect her privacy.
When an individual is in the public eye, like Cardi B, they must show “malice” to succeed in a defamation claim. This means that the defendant either knew their statements were false or acted with reckless disregard as to whether or not their statements were true. This rule exists due to the idea that those in the public eye invite a certain amount of conversation about themselves and their activities.
Cardi B testified that she was experiencing “extreme emotional distress,” to the point of wanting to take her own life, and “just wanted to escape this nightmare.” Kebe refused to apologize, take down her videos, or settle the case before trial. Cardi B told the court that this was “the darkest time of her life,” fueled by “vile, disgusting, and completely false narratives that were repeatedly and relentlessly being shared online.”
At trial, the Judge struck parts of Kebe’s lawyer’s closing argument, because she was giving her personal opinions about the case to the jury. She also told the jury that, given her husband’s infidelity, the money Cardi B had spent on therapy for the depression this case has caused her would be better spent on marital therapy.
After awarding Cardi B the original $1.25 million in damages, the jury came back the following week and awarded her an additional $2.8 million. The damages were increased to reflect punitive damages and medical expenses. After the jury announced their award, the Judge warned Kebe against changing her finances to make it look like she could not pay, or could not pay the full amount.
Cardi B is represented by Lisa F. Moore and William A. Pequignot of Moore Pequignot LLC, and Gary P. Adelman and Sarah M. Matz of Adelman Matz PC.
Kebe and her company are represented by Sadeer Sabbak and Olga Izmaylova of Sabbak & Izmaylova LLP.
The case is Almánzar v. Kebe et al., case number 1:19-cv-01301, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving defamation, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.
Find us at our website at www.LoweLaw.com