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Shaquille O’Neal’s lawyers fined in defamation lawsuit

Retired basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s lawyers have been fined $13,000 (GBP9,325) for reportedly failing to get him to a mediation hearing in a defamation lawsuit.
The former sportsman was slapped with legal papers in 2014 after allegedly mocking Jahmel Binion, who suffers from genetic disorder hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, on social media by making disparaging comments about his looks in a ‘selfie’ he had posted online, which depicted the male with facial deformities, patchy hair growth and missing teeth, which are all symptoms of his rare condition.
O’Neal subsequently apologised after learning of Binion’s health woes, but it wasn’t enough and he demanded damages of $25,000 (£18,000).
However, the sports icon hit back, insisting there was nothing defamatory about his post as he only shared the image with the caption, “Smile today”. He also shot down Binion’s invasion of privacy claim because the picture was made public when he posted it on social media.
The case went before a Michigan judge, but was reportedly dismissed last year (15) after the court official ruled the defendant had no ties to the state. However, it seems the drama moved forward in another jurisdiction and last month (Jan16) O’Neal was ordered to attend a mediation hearing, but failed to show up.
According to Bossip.com, O’Neal informed the defendant’s lawyers he would not be able to attend, but would be available for a video conference and on the day of the hearing only his attorneys showed up.
O’Neal’s lawyers claimed he was never ordered to show up in person, but Binion insisted the video conference was not approved by the judge. He sought funds to pay for travel costs to Miami, Florida, legal fees and future mediation costs and last week (ends19Feb16) the judge awarded Binion $13,100 (GBP9,400), ruling O’Neal was aware he had to attend the hearing in person and fined his legal team for not informing him. He has also been ordered to attend the next hearing.

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