11 August 2017

Mueller v. Swift Part II

In a previous post, I reviewed the claims at issue in the Mueller v. Swift case in which a trial was being held in U.S. District Court in the District of Colorado this week.

This week, a jury was selected and all of the evidence was presented. Then, a motions hearing to see which claims were supported by enough evidence to go to a jury remained. On Monday, closing arguments will be presented to a jury.

It was a bad day for Mueller's case.

At the start of the trial, the claims were as follows:
(1) intentional interference with contract (related to the firing of Mueller) and (2) tortious interference with business relations (related to his loss of an option in his contract), against Taylor Swift, her manager and her mother. Both of Mueller's claims are against all three of them personally, and also against Taylor Swift without regard to fault on the grounds that she is responsible for any conduct of her manager. Counterclaims for assault and battery brought by Taylor Swift against Mueller are also pending.
The judge didn't even let the jury consider, because there was no evidence to support the claims:

* tortious interference with business relations against all parties.

* intentional interference with contract as to Taylor Swift because (1) contracting her mom and manager was a privileged communication to her own employer of a suspected incident of sexual assault, and (2) because her mom and her manager work for her production company, not for her personally, so she has no vicarious liability and the production company isn't a party to the action.

This leaves for the jury:

* intentional interference with contract against her mom
* intentional interference with contract against her manager
* counterclaims for assault and battery

Moreover, the jury cannot find for Mueller if the jury finds that there was assault and battery.

And, the jury has to find that either mom or the manager believed that Taylor Swift was lying when the manager, with the emphatic support of the mom, contacted KYGO, Mueller's employer about the incident.

There are now fewer logically possible outcomes:

* Intentional interference with contract against mom but not the manager. Mueller gets $$ and costs.
* Intentional interference with contract against the manager but not mom. Mueller gets $$ and costs.
* Intentional interference with contract against the manager and mom. Mueller gets $$ and costs.
* All claims are dismissed. Neither party gets costs.
* Assault and battery against Meuller. Taylor Swift gets $1 plus costs.

Both parties will pay their own attorneys' fees unless the court makes a groundless or vexatious claim determination, which is highly unlikely given that the claims above survived a motion for summary judgment and a Rule 50 motion at the close of evidence.

Given the evidence presented at trial, one of the last two possibilities is most likely, and the last is by far the most likely, so it isn't even really worth trying to do a damages analysis in the very unlikely event that Meuller prevails.

An assault and battery finding would also prevent Meuller from asserting a claim against KYGO or Swift's management company, or anyone else. Fortunately for him, he will, at least, escape a sex offender conviction as a result of this trial, because it is a civil lawsuit and not a criminal one.

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