A $25 million defamation lawsuit brought against actor Alec Baldwin was dismissed Wednesday, as a federal judge ruled that Baldwin’s private messages about a slain Marine constituted free speech.
The actor was sued by the family of a Marine killed in Afghanistan, who was angered by posts Baldwin made referencing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, NBC News reported.
“When I sent you the $ for your late brother, out of a real respect for his service to our country, I didn’t know you were a January 6th rioter,” court documents allege Baldwin said in a private message.
His comment came in response to seeing Roice McCollum, a sister of the late Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, post a photo on her own social media of a person wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Baldwin previously donated $5,000 to McCollum’s family after the Marine lost his life in a 2021 attack in Kabul.
While Roice McCollum was in Washington on Jan. 6, she was not involved in the riot and has not been charged with any crime related to Capitol attack.
U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said in his decision that, because several of Baldwin’s harsher comments were sent via private messages, they did not qualify as defamation.
The suit was dismissed last year but brought back again in September.
Ramos also considered Baldwin’s other comments, which he posted publicly, to be protected by the First Amendment.
Earlier Wednesday, a New Mexico judge denied Baldwin’s request to dismiss a separate lawsuit involving three “Rust” crew members who alleged that Baldwin’s skipping of his safety training during the shoot endangered the crew.
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