Tom Cruise's $50M Defamation Suit Over Suri Abandonment Claim: What Are His Chances of Winning? (INSIDE STORY)

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Criticize his acting career, his love life, or even his role in controversial religion Scientology. But don't pan Tom Cruise's parenting skills.

Cruise filed a defamation suit against Bauer Publishing Company, demanding $50 million in damages over cover stories — printed by the corporation's Life & Style and In Touch celebrity tabloids — that claim he "abandoned" his six-year-old daughter, Suri.

The case, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, centers on two covers that included images Cruise's daughter: a July 31 issue of Life & Style with the words "Suri In Tears, Abandoned by Her Dad" splashed across it; and a Oct. 1 issue of In Touch that read, "Abandoned by Daddy."

"Tom is a caring father who dearly loves Suri," Cruise's attorney Bert Fields said in a statement after the filing. "To say he has 'abandoned' her is a vicious lie. To say it in lurid headlines with a tearful picture of Suri is reprehensible."

But if the case heads to court, a win won't be easy for Cruise — at least in part because of his A-list status.

"The defamation laws are different as to individuals and celebrities [because] there’s a higher legal standard that’s in place ... for public figures or celebrities," Stuart Slotnick, business litigation partner at national law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, told Celebuzz.

Cruise would have to "prove that the publisher acted with intentional malice — otherwise known as constitutional malice — which [means] it was intentionally meant to hurt him and to damage him," Slotnick said.

If Cruise's legal team can prove the publisher acted with intentional malice, then they have to make a case for damages.

"He needs to specify what damages there have been to him and...he would need to bring in actual proof that the damages [were] a result of these publications," explained Slotnick. "For example, if he says, 'I had a deal in place and I was going to make $15 million to make a movie. But as soon as the articles came out, I was told we can't hire you because you abandoned your daughter.' [That would be] directly linked to his damages. [But] it's unlikely that he would be able to prove damages of $50 million or anything close to that."

Cruise's reputation would likely come into play for such proceedings. "If someone has a bad reputation, it's harder to prove damages because it's harder to defame someone with a bad reputation," added Slotnick, who is the Managing Partner of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's New York City office.

But regardless if Cruise is viewed positively or negatively, his Hollywood notoriety won't help his case in court. "Seeing that he’s one of the A-list celebrities in this country and in the world," adds Slotnick, defamation "may be difficult to prove at trial."

But Slotnick suggested Cruise isn't actually after an award of $50 million (In fact, his lawyer has said any money recovered from the lawsuit will be donated to charity). Instead, Cruise is hoping this case will broadcast a message to the media. "Tom Cruise is clearly not starting litigation for money," he said. "It's a deterrent to other publications from focusing on him and gossip-like statements. [He] trying to send a message to tabloids that if they invade his personal space and they cross a line, that they're going to get sued."

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Discuss

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  • amanandamouse
    amanandamouse

    oh, brother.

  • tarangire
    tarangire

    truth hurts....doesn't it? you know what else hurts? Being a 6 yr old little girl who hasn't seen her Dad in over 13 weeks!!! Especially considering that her parents have just divorced, and she passed a major milestone in her life; the first day of school and well, maybe just because it might be fun to hang out with Dad and play a board game-- NOT just 'talk' about it over the telephone. Apparently, Tom is very busy shooting yet another movie abroad in London. He's an in demand man, bringing home the umpteenth pound of bacon I presume. Now, maybe his priorities might change in a few years, when Suri is able to read and becomes more Internet savvy. She can then log on and track her Dad's virtual every move. Like what he's been doing with his time lately - and see for herself that he does indeed place a priority on Scientology gala dinners, clubbing with his DJ son Connor mixing it with sexy, Playboy models, dinners out in London with rapper Usher, the occassional dinner date at a swank London restaurant over her. He's got his own jet...he could have skipped one of the dinner dates and flown 5 hrs in privacy to hug and kiss his daughter. Tom Cruise is a heartless, brainwashed, lost soul. But...a stellar Scientologist. You can't take it with you.

  • Stella
    Stella

    It never ceases to amaze me how STUPID people are! So, you are judge and jury and case closed b/c you said so. I think this man has taking more beating in the tabloids than any other actor and for nothing, just having a different religion. I think he is right for suing and we all have to wait and see. Our country says we have the RIGHT TO WORSHIP WHAT AND WHO WE WANT, SO LONG AS WE OBEY THE LAW. THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR ANYONE TO HATE THIS MAN. Reminds me of the Pharisees accusing Jesus of not worshiping correctly. HAHA and we all know how that turned out. You so called “Christians” are the reason evil exits. You people are the worst of mankind. GOD LUCK MR CRUISE & GOD BLESS.

  • TRUTH
    TRUTH

    Tom's chance of winning is ZERO! If Tom and his criminal and greedy lawyer truly believe media and tabloids are all lying, then why didn't they sue Vanity Fair mag and Maureen Orth for the amazing TRUTH in their Oct issue? Well, those juries and defendants for this case, if it ever goes to court, are not blind. They will spill all Tom Cruise private matters and his involvement in human trafficking ,human rights violations and all the crimes/abuses that Tom and his man-wife are doing daily will also appear in the court of law. Tom, what goes around will come around (Karma). You did it to Nicole K, Nazanin Boniadi and Katie Holmes, and now you are and will be paying for.

 
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