A California appeals court has upheld actor Ryan O'Neal's win in the first stage of a lawsuit against a film and television producer who allegedly defamed the actor by claiming he stole one of two Andy Warhol paintings owned by O'Neal ex Farrah Fawcett.
Craig Nevius, who produced a show about the late actress, was sued by O'Neal in July over comments Nevius allegedly made in Star magazine and on Good Morning America. Nevius then filed a special motion to strike O'Neal's complaint under California's anti-SLAAP statute, which allows for certain lawsuits concerning public speech to be dismissed at an early state of litigation. (More background on the case here.)
The trial court denied Nevius' motion, but he appealed. Now the second appellate district has affirmed the denial.
"There is at least minimal merit to the defamation claim to satisfy the evidentiary standard to defeat an anti-SLAAP motion," states the ruling, a copy of which was obtained by THR. "Accordingly, we find no error in the trial court's decision to deny Nevius' anti-SLAAP motion."
The case will now return to the trial court.
“We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision in favor of Ryan O’Neal and against Craig Nevius," O'Neal attorney Todd Eagan tells THR. "We look forward to prevailing at trial.”
O'Neal is repped by Eagan and Marty Singer at Lavely and Singer. Nevius is repped by Lincoln Bandlow at L.A.'s Lathrop and Gage firm.