Rebel Wilson awarded $3.66M US in defamation case
Pledges to support Australian charities, film industry with the damages received
A judge awarded Rebel Wilson record damages of $4.56 million Australian ($3.66 million US) on Wednesday over magazine articles the actress said cost her roles in Hollywood films.
A Supreme Court jury in Australia's Victoria state had decided in June the articles claiming she lied about her age, origins of her first name and her upbringing in Sydney were defamatory.
Justice John Dixon said a substantial award amount was required to "vindicate" Wilson after her reputation as an "actress of integrity was wrongly damaged."
Bauer Media, publisher of the Australian magazines Woman's Day, Australian Women's Weekly, NW and OK, said it was considering the judgment.
'Wasn't about the money'
The 37-year-old Wilson, best known for the comedies Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids, was in London on Wednesday and her lawyers were unable to immediately talk to her about the decision.
Wilson said on Twitter that the case "wasn't about the money."
Today was the end of a long and hard court battle against Bauer Media who viciously tried to take me down with a series of false articles.—@RebelWilson
Today Justice Dixon accepted that Bauer Media subjected me to a sustained and malicious attack timed to coincide with the launch of Pitch 2—@RebelWilson
He said the nature of the aggravated defamation and the unprecedented extent of dissemination makes vindication of particular importance.—@RebelWilson
"I'm looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I've received," she added in subsequent tweets.
"Also looking forward to getting back to my career and entertaining everyone!"
Her lawyer Richard Leder said outside court the damages were about four times higher than the previous Australian record for a defamation case. Her legal team would also apply for Bauer to pay all her legal costs, Leder said.
The actress had sought more than $7 million Australian. Bauer Media had branded that damage claim "extraordinarily large" and made on the "most tenuous of basis."
Bauer lawyer Georgina Schoff told the judge that Wilson had failed to prove the articles caused her financial losses.
Bauer Media failed to prove that the articles published in 2015 were substantially true or that they were unlikely to harm her career. The jury found Bauer had said Wilson lied about her age, claiming to be six years younger, and had falsely claimed to have been named Rebel at birth.
They also found Bauer Media had said Wilson lied about having a hallucination about winning an Academy Award while sick with malaria, about her parents being dog trainers, about being related to U.S. entertainment entrepreneur Walt Disney and about being raised in a "ghetto" area of Sydney.
Wilson blamed the articles for film contracts being terminated.