OJ Simpson Defamation Case Vs. Cosmopolitan to Go to Trial, Private Settlement Ruled Out

Posted on: January 28, 2020, 02:31h. 

Last updated on: January 28, 2020, 02:53h.

OJ Simpson’s lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas will go to court, a pretrial commissioner ruled on Monday.

OJ Simpson defamation
OJ Simpson is unable to leave Nevada under the terms of his parole and is currently living in Las Vegas, where he is popular with selfie-seeking tourists. (Image: Andreas Branch/Vanity Fair)

Simpson, 72, is suing the Las Vegas Strip hotel-casino for defamation after a report surfaced on celebrity gossip site TMZ claiming the disgraced football star had been banned from the property for being “drunk and disruptive” in November 2017.

Simpson claims in his lawsuit that this was not the case. He alleges he was barred because of racial discrimination, and that false reports of drunkenness and aggression were concocted by Cosmo staff and leaked to TMZ in order to “defame and embarrass” him.

TMZ is not a defendant in the case

Booze Test Negative

Consuming alcohol to excess qualifies as a violation of Simpson’s parole, which could see him returned to prison for up to 24 years.

“The Juice” has been living in Las Vegas since his release from prison a month before the Cosmopolitan incident. He served more than nine years of a maximum 33-year sentence for charges that included first-degree kidnapping and robbery with a deadly weapon.

According to the lawsuit, Simpson took tests for drugs and alcohol at the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation the day after the alleged incident and was found not have violated the terms of his parole.

The Cosmopolitan had hoped the matter could be settled privately through arbitration, rather than going to trial. The hotel-casino’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment on whether it would appeal the commissioner’s ruling.

‘Immoral’ Argument

Cosmopolitan lawyers have argued that Simpson is essentially undefamable because his reputation was already tarnished before he was kicked out of the Cosmo.

They cite his criminal and civil trials in the 1994 deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman — as well as his armed robbery conviction — to argue that reports he was “wasted,” “disruptive,” or “angry” could not amount to “tangible damage to his reputation.”

Simpson’s lawyer, Malcom LaVergne, called this argument “immoral.”

What are they saying? Anyone can do anything and say anything against him?” he asked, adding it was a “slavery-segregation argument that Simpson doesn’t deserve damages.”

LaVergne denied he was playing the “race card.”

The lawsuit claims Simpson is a “model” parolee and citizen in Las Vegas, “where he has received an extremely warm and positive reception by many.”

Simpson is seeking $30,000, plus punitive damages. The former NFL running back and Naked Gun star still owes over $70 million to the families of Brown Simpson and Goldman, having been found responsible for their wrongful deaths in a 1997 civil trial.