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Bieber Sues Retailer in Breach of Contract After Being Called "Idiot"


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1/1/2016
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Recently, a New York company retaining the licensing rights for Justin Bieber sued a Texas retailer for breach of contract after learning that the Texas company not only breached their agreement to pay a $200,000 licensing fee to sell Bieber-endorsed merchandise, but that they compounded the problem by calling Bieber "an idiot" in an internet posting, thereby tarnishing Bieber's reputation, and diminishing the ability to sell these products.

While there certainly may be merit to the claim that this Texas retailer still owes $100,000 on their underlying contract, I must admit that I am troubled by the second part of the claim, which really sounds more like defamation than anything else. I suspect the reason that Bieber's attorneys cast these claims as breach of contract/breach of fiduciary duty is precisely because denigrated someone as "an idiot" is the paradigm for inactionable opinion - as opposed to assertions of fact that may be actionable under New York law.

(Naturally, this also leaves aside the issue as to whether Bieber is in fact an idiot is true - bearing in mind that truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim.)

Rather, the lawyers couched this claim in these terms in order to lend luster to their arguments that the defendant inherently hampered their own ability to keep their end of the contract and sell the Bieber merchandise by denigrating Bieber, essentially "cutting off their nose to spite their face."

 



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