Jeff Bezos is poised to defeat a defamation lawsuit brought against him by his girlfriend’s brother over nude photos of the world’s wealthiest man that were leaked to the National Enquirer.
The claim that Bezos and his security consultant told journalists that Michael Sanchez was the source of the photos was based only on hearsay and wasn’t backed by evidence, a state court judge said in a tentative ruling. Sanchez, a Hollywood talent agent, is the brother of Bezos’s girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, who is an actress and media personality.
Bezos and the consultant, Gavin de Becker, were accused by Michael Sanchez of spreading “the false narrative” that he betrayed his sister by peddling a story about Bezos to the Enquirer.
In his ruling, Judge John Doyle concluded the alleged statements at the heart of the case “relate to an issue of public interest as there was widespread media coverage relating to Jeffrey Bezos’ extramarital affair and the source which leaked the affair to the media.”
Michael Sanchez will have a chance to persuade the judge to change his mind at a hearing set for Thursday.
William Isaacson, a lawyer for Bezos, and Tom Warren, a lawyer for Sanchez, didn’t immediately respond to email messages sent after business hours seeking comment.
The Amazon.com Inc. chairman went public last year with what he said was an extortion attempt by the National Enquirer. The magazine, according to Bezos, had threatened to publish more details of his relationship with Lauren Sanchez as well as revealing photos if he didn’t stop investigating what had prompted a January 2019 expose about their affair while Bezos was still married.
The case is Sanchez v. Bezos, 20STCV04212, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County.
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