(Bloomberg) — Jeff Bezos’s girlfriend Lauren Sanchez probably won’t have to be questioned under oath as part of her brother’s defamation lawsuit against the world’s richest man.
A California state court judge on Friday tentatively rejected Michael Sanchez’s argument that he’s entitled to his sister’s testimony to back up his allegation that Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, acted with malice by falsely telling journalists that he was the source of graphic, nude pictures of Bezos that were given to the National Enquirer.
According to Sanchez, his sister could testify about what Bezos and de Becker knew and when they learned that he couldn’t have possessed pictures of Bezos’s genitalia.
An attorney for Sanchez didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the tentative decision.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Doyle said in the ruling that Michael Sanchez’s suit is based on “hearsay” about what a reporter told him, which the judge said isn’t adequate to compel his sister to sit through a deposition. Michael Sanchez will have a chance to persuade the judge to change his mind at a hearing set for Monday.
Bezos and de Becker have denied the allegations against them and are seeking to have Sanchez’s suit thrown out under a California law that allows for quick dismissal of such defamation cases without the plaintiff being able to request sworn testimony.
“This ploy to depose Ms. Sanchez amounts to little more than a thinly veiled attempt to harass her and thereby put additional pressure on Mr. Bezos to pay him money to end this frivolous lawsuit,” they said in their opposition to Sanchez’s request.
Read More: Amazon CEO Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of Blackmail
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.
Dylan Howard, the former chief content officer of American Media Inc., then the owner of the National Enquirer, said this year in a separate lawsuit by Michael Sanchez against the tabloid that Sanchez had been the only source for the story about Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, for which he was paid $200,000. Michael Sanchez also showed the National Enquirer a “below-the-belt selfie” Bezos allegedly had sent to Lauren Sanchez, according to Howard.
Michael Sanchez is a Hollywood talent agent, and Lauren is an actress and media personality.
The case is Sanchez v. Bezos, 20STCV04212, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County.
(Updates with judge’s reasoning in fifth paragraph.)
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