Rebel Wilson $3.6 million defamation payout is to be challenged by bosses at a host of Australian media companies.
The Pitch Perfect star was awarded the sum in general, aggravated and special damages last year (17), after the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia found she had missed out on Hollywood roles due to a string of articles in Bauer Media publications alleging she had lied about her age and childhood in interviews.
The payout was the largest in Australian history, as Justice John Dixon ruled that the actress’s global reputation justified a rule capping general damages at $306,000 no longer applied.
Lawyers for Bauer were already appealing the payout and on Monday (26Feb18) executives at News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media, Macquarie Media, the ABC and the country’s Seven and Nine TV networks sought leave to intervene and join the appeal, as Australian law allows if a ruling may affect a company’s business.
The lawyer representing the media companies, Justin Quill from Macpherson Kelley, said his clients were worried libel costs would spiral out of control.
“The concern is that Justice Dixon found that where aggravated damages are awarded, the damages cap no longer applies,” he told Reuters. “This sets a precedent because if someone has an aggravated damages claim then they can be given unlimited damages – the sky is the limit,” he added.
After Bauer announced they were appealing the court’s decision, Rebel, 37, expressed her anger on Twitter.
“Am not surprised that Bauer has decided to appeal the damages amount in my recent defamation case considering their disgusting history,” she wrote. “I am disappointed that this now delays my plans to support Australian charities and Australians in the entertainment industry.”