Trials & Litigation
Lawyer defends tweet about ‘doing Paula Deen in a strongly metaphorical sense’
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Jun 26, 2013, 12:17 pm CDT
One of the lawyers suing Paula Deen and her brother is defending a tweet in which he said he is “doing Paula Deen in a strongly metaphorical sense.”
Lawyers for the defendants are appealing a magistrate judge’s refusal to disqualify the tweeting lawyer, Matthew Billips of Atlanta, report WSBTV.com and Radar Online. Billips is one of two lawyers representing plaintiff Lisa Jackson, who claims she was sexually harassed and worked in a racially hostile environment at a Georgia restaurant owned by Deen and her brother.
Billips told the court that the statements were not intended as threats, nor were they intended to become public. Radar Online and a court document (PDF) recount the Twitter conversation:
Billips’ friend: “Anyway, how r you doing—I like your new avatar.”
Billips: “I’ve been doing Paula Deen, in a strongly metaphorical sense.”
Billips’ friend: “Why would you do Paula Deen? Aren’t you affair of fat cooties?”
Billips: “Strongly metaphorical. I’m representing Lisa Jackson, who is suing her and her brother Bubba for harassment.”
Billips’ friend: “I don’t understand a ‘metaphorical lawsuit.’ “
Billips: “The lawsuit is real. It is the doing Paula which is metaphorical.”
Billips’ friend: “You dress up as Paula Deen? I can see the resemblance.”
Billips: “No. I plan on undressing her. Metaphorically.”
Billips has since deleted his Twitter account.
Defense lawyers have also sought Rule 11 sanctions that contend Jackson has no standing to assert racial bias claims because she is white. According to the motion, Jackson claimed she was offended because her nieces “are bi-racial with an African-American father.” But the motion says there is just one niece, and she is related to Jackson’s partner, who said in a deposition that the niece’s father is Hispanic and she hasn’t seen the girl in years.
“Despite having knowledge of the falsity of their core race-based claims, plaintiff and her counsel have blindly insisted on pursuing those claims,” the motion asserts.
The Food Network has not renewed Deen’s contract after she admitted in a deposition that she had used the N-word in the past.