Makini R. Chaka is an owner of Remy Enterprise Group, LLC (“Remy”), an entity that arranges and coordinates logistics for celebrity appearances at public and private events. When Remy arranges a celebrity appearance, either the venue or the celebrity pays Remy a portion of the fee paid to the celebrity. Remy’s clients include professional athletes, music recording artists and other well-known entertainers.
According to a new lawsuit filed in District of Columbia federal court, Washington Redskin tight end Frederick Davis has described Chaka as a “madam” and “pimpette” who procures prostitutes for professional athletes. In her Complaint, Chaka contends that Davis also insinuated that she is violent, dishonest and an extortionist. Chaka claims that Davis said as much to Chaka’s clients and potential clients, and has sued him for defamation, invasion of privacy, tortious interference with contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
To falsely identify someone as a “madam” or “pimp” may be defamatory, but much will depend on the precise words used and the context in which the statement was made. Not long ago, motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel sued ESPN when they published a picture of him with his arms around two women (one of whom was his wife) and the caption, “Evel Knievel proves that you’re never too old to be a pimp.” Evel claimed the caption was defamatory because he was not actually soliciting prostitution and his wife was not a prostitute. The Ninth Circuit held that the statement was not actionable, based primarily on the fact it was published on an extreme sports website full of lighthearted, jocular content targeted at a youthful audience. In other words, the court found that a reasonable reader would likely not interpret the “pimp” statement literally.
In this case, Chaka doesn’t identify the complete statement or the context in which it was made. She alleges only that “In 2012, Davis [and his bodyguard] repeatedly told third parties that Chaka is a “madam” and “pimpette” who procures prostitutes for professional athletes.” Without more, it is difficult to tell how a reasonable listener would interpret those statements and whether this case is likely to withstand a motion to dismiss.
Chaka asserts that her good name and reputation are crucial to Remy’s ability to maintain current and secure new clients. She claims that Davis was aware of some of the clients and venues with which Remy had ongoing business relationships, and that publication of the allegedly defamatory statements to these clients resulted in the cancellation of contracts and have harmed Remy’s reputation and business.
According to Chaka, Davis acted maliciously in making the statements, knowing them to be false. The news media published the statements in print, on the radio, on television and on the Internet. At Chaka’s request, most of the media outlets stopped publishing the statements. Chaka asserts that publication of these statements harmed her reputation and that of her company, holding them up to public ridicule and contempt and deterring others from associating with them. Chaka contends Remy earned over $60,000 annually before the published statements but less than $30,000 since the statements were published. Chaka and Remy seek damages for lost income and profits, damage to reputation, and emotional distress.