Grammy Award winning rapper Cardi B (legal name: Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar) won over $4 million in a defamation case she filed (in March of 2017) against YouTuber Tasha K (legal name: Latasha Transrina Kebe) and her company, Kebe Studios LLC.
The case was filed in federal district court in Georgia, alleging defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Tasha K posted almost 40 videos (which had millions of views) on her monetized YouTube channel and she had refused to remove them.
Over a number of years, Tasha K built up 1 million subscribers to her channel and she admitted in the trial that the videos helped. It is a well-known fact that the most popular YouTubers can earn over a million dollars a year.
Tasha K filed a countersuit for assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, claiming that Cardi B “began to publicly trash” her online. However, the judge dismissed it.
Cardi B contended that Tasha K waged a “malicious campaign” to “damage and destroy” her reputation with her fans. According to the lawsuit, “Kebe published multiple and defamatory statements about Plaintiff, including that Plaintiff was a prostitute, that Plaintiff was a user of cocaine, that Plaintiff had and still has herpes.”Cardi B also claimed that Tasha K made false statements about her marriage and child. Cardi B denied Tasha K’s claims.
The lawsuit further claimed that “By making and publishing the statements, and campaign of harassing videos, including the Defamatory Videos, Defendants were intending to cause Plaintiff emotional distress.” Cardi B asserted that she “suffered severe humiliations” and “mental anguish.”
One interesting and unusual fact in this case is that Tasha K admitted while testifying at trial that she knew some of her statements were false. She claimed she was a journalist and then admitted in court that she is not. She said she did it to entertain her subscribers and increase traffic to her YouTube channel.
The jury reached its verdict on January 24 and 25, 2022, found Tasha K liable on all three counts and awarded the following damages:
• One million in general damages (pain and suffering and/or damage to her reputation);
• $1,338,763.47 in costs of suit and attorney’s fees;
• Medical Expenses of $250,000 (but all parties agreed to reduce it to $25,000);
• And $1.5 million in punitive damages (to punish the defendant and deter such conduct).
Defendant’s attorney has indicated they disagree with the jury’s verdict and intend on appealing the judgment.
Cardi B released a statement:
“These past couple of years have been difficult for me and constantly reliving it. Very hard on me.”
“Thank you to the jurors, you know. The jurors took time off they regular live…and made a very fair and right decision.”
This case is important because it shows courts may impose some restrictions on what people can say on social media with impunity. Hopefully this verdict will discourage others from posting false or misleading content.