August 13, 2009

Smith’s friend Stern can sue for libel

A federal judge in New York has ruled that Howard Stern, Anna Nicole Smith's companion when she died in 2007, can sue a writer for libel.

Stern is suing former TV journalist Rita Cosby for $60 million, charging that more than a dozen passages in her best seller, Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death, damaged his reputation, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.

In his ruling allowing a portion of Stern's libel suit proceed, federal Judge Denny Chin rejected Cosby's argument that Stern's reputation made him libel-proof.

Stern cites a passage in which Cosby wrote that Smith regularly watched a video of Stern engaging in sexual activities with Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith's daughter. Cosby argued Stern wasn't defamed because sex tapes are made by celebrities often and don't open them to contempt.

Chin called Cosby's argument absurd.

Stern also claimed he was defamed when Cosby wrote he pimped out Smith and intimated he played a role in her death, the Daily News said.

Cosby's lawyer, Elizabeth McNamara, expressed confidence a jury would acquit her client once it hears all the evidence surrounding Howard K. Stern's life with Anna Nicole Smith.

Smith, a former Playboy Playmate and infomercial personality, died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.