After losing millions in a lawsuit filed by wrestler Hulk Hogan, lefty website Deadspin is being sued again, this time by an Atlanta United fan who says that the site used a photo of him in a story talking about homophobic fans.
The lawsuit was filed against Deadspin’s parent company, Gizmodo Media Group, by Georgia resident Kevin Cheek who says that the sports website libeled him in a story about homophobic chants at an Atlanta United soccer game.
The story in question was published in March and is titled “Atlanta United Fans Break Into Homophobic Chant During Inaugural Game.”
The story now features a generic photo of the Atlanta stadium, but Cheek says he was called homophobic when the site originally featured a photo of the litigant as its header image to illustrate the story, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Cheek alleges in his lawsuit that his reputation was damaged and that he has been ridiculed as a result of the original photo illustration.
The Deadspin story alleges that homophobic chants were heard during the March 5 game:
Throughout the game, fans in the stadium broke out the “Puto!” chant, an infamous and ubiquitous Mexican soccer chant that involves fans shouting a gay slur in unison as the opposing goalkeeper takes goal kicks.
The story itself does not mention Cheek, but the aggrieved fan may have a chance to win the suit, according to AwfulAnnouncing.com. “Cheek may have the advantage of not being a public official (so the “actual malice” standard of the 1964 Supreme Court NY Times v. Sullivan decision may not apply); there also have been some libel awards over photo choices in the past,” staff writer Andrew Bucholtz noted.
The Gawker group of websites was successfully sued by former wrestler Hulk Hogan, who filed suit when the website posted a video showing Hogan engaging in sexual relations with the wife of a friend. Hogan was awarded $140 million in the defamation case in November of 2016.
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