New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung has asked a federal judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a former Los Angeles Rams employee that involves the posting of a text message on social media.
As we reported earlier, former Rams ticket executive Matthew Hogan sued Chung and Matthew Weymouth, a friend of Chung’s who ran his social media pages. The lawsuit is over text messages that Chung posted to his social media. The post consisted of an exchange between Hogan and Weymouth where Hogan said, “Patrick Chung is a b***h.” This was in relation to Chung’s on-field injury during Super Bowl LII. Chung included a message with the post, stating, “[t]his is disrespectful of you. I would never wish or say anything like this to anyone after they just broke their arm. You should be ashamed bro.”
While Hogan claims he meant the message as a joke to Weymouth alone, he says the post was made in a way that appeared that he was messaging Chung directly. Hogan claims in his defamation suit that he was fired because of the post and is now unable to find work.
On September 19, 2019, Chung told U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald that the case should be dismissed. He argued that Hogan’s claims fail to show how the posting of the text messages on social media was defamatory or misleading. He added that the posts are substantially true and that his commentary is his protected personal opinion.
In addition, Chung pointed out that Judge Fitzgerald dismissed Hogan’s suit against Beasley Media Group, a company that ran a story on the social media posts, for similar reasons. He also argued that Hogan can’t show that Chung acted in an extreme or outrageous manner, as the texts were not private information one would expect to keep secret.
Chung further claimed that there were no falsehoods in the post, as he only mentioned that Hogan worked for the Rams and that any ambiguities in the post would not make a difference in the minds of readers. In addition to claiming that Hogan failed to show how he suffered emotional distress, Chung argued that the court has no jurisdiction over him, as he is a Massachusetts resident and the actions did not take place in California.
Weymouth, meanwhile, is also arguing that Hogan’s claims against him should be dismissed. Weymouth denies publishing the screenshots and makes a similar jurisdiction argument. Hogan’s claims against Chung and Weymouth will continue, for now.