Comedian Michael Rapaport moved for summary judgment in a lawsuit against Barstool Sports, Inc., on March 3, 2020, contending that there was enough evidence to find the entertainment company liable for breach of contract and defamation.
According to Rapaport’s complaint, the comedian entered into a contract with Barstool Sports in 2017 to provide video content for the company’s webpage and to host a weekly podcast on the company’s platform for Sirius XM. Rapaport claims that this deal entitled him to $200,000 for the online videos and $400,000 for the podcast. However, that deal never came to fruition.
Rapaport claims that Barstool executives declined to renew the relationship just months into their deal. Rapaport called Barstool’s actions a coordinated assault to breach their existing talent agreement and to damage Rapaport’s reputation. His amended complaint alleges, “Following BSI’s decision not to retain Mr. Rapaport, BSI employees, personalities and bloggers began a systematic campaign to publicly and privately discredit, disparage and undermine Mr. Rapaport’s relationship with BSI as well as his credibility as an actor and performer.”
While Barstool contends that the company distanced itself from Rapaport for his unruly behavior, including insulting Barstool’s fan base, Rapaport claims that Barstool encouraged his conduct, stating that the company “thrives on controversy,” and that he was never warned to tone down his statements.
Rapaport claims that, after breaking their alleged agreement, Barstool defamed the comedian in a series of targeted attacks. He states that the company concocted defamatory statements about him, going so far as to call him a racist, a domestic abuser, and a fraud. As a result of the controversy, Rapaport is claiming damages of $16.4 million, asserting among his allegations that that the controversy caused by Barstool has cost him his career in Hollywood.
However, attorneys for Barstool are not fazed. Aaron J. Moss of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP responded to Rapaport’s motion for summary judgment, stating, “As we’ve said from the beginning, this lawsuit is nothing but a schoolyard squabble that has no business being in federal court, and we look forward to bringing our own motion for summary judgment soon.”
Richard Busch, Rapaport’s attorney, retorted back, “We have seen Mr. Moss’s statement, and we are simply not going to take the bait and litigate this case in the press. It is just not appropriate. We will be making our case to the Court and to the jury.”