(NewsNation) — The family of George Floyd is preparing to sue Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, for his comments on a podcast about Floyd’s death. NewsNation host Dan Abrams says from a legal standpoint, this will be a nearly impossible case to win. Attorneys for Floyd’s family insist that’s not the case.
The lawsuit stems from Ye’s comments about a documentary “The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM” from right-wing commentator Candace Owens.
While speaking on the “Drink Champs” podcast, Ye said: “I watched a George Floyd documentary that Candace Owens put up. One of the things that his two roommates said was they want a tall guy like me, they want a tall guy like me. And the day when he died, he said a prayer for, you know, eight minutes. He said a prayer for eight minutes. They hit him with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that. When he said ‘Mama,’ Mama is his girlfriend. They said he screamed for his mama. Mama was his girlfriend. It’s in the documentary.”
The medical examiner testified that compression on Floyd’s neck and restraint of his body by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin were the primary causes of Floyd’s death. He added that heart disease and drug use also contributed to his death.
Lawyers for Roxie Washington, the mother of George Floyd’s daughter, who is the sole beneficiary of his estate, announced plans for a $250 million lawsuit against the rapper. They intend to file for harassment, misappropriation, defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
Amid backlash, the podcast hosts have removed the entire interview from YouTube, website and podcast streams and issued an apology.
“I felt I could control the situation. I felt that I could control the interview. And I’ve learned early on that I didn’t … As a Black man, I feel like I failed. As a human, I feel like I failed. But as a journalist, I succeeded because as a journalist, you’re not supposed to really have an opinion. You’re supposed to let people talk,” said N.O.R.E., a co-host of “Drink Champs.”
Meanwhile, Owens has defended Ye on Twitter. She wrote: “The media has a lot to lose – namely power over Black American emotions – if we all wake up to the lies surrounding the George Floyd narrative. They are attempting to hang Kanye publicly for daring to challenge their control over the masses. This ‘lawsuit’ is a PR strategy.”
This comes as Ye made recent headlines for making antisemitic comments on social media and since he is set to acquire right-wing social media platform Parler, where Owens’ husband is an executive.
Even with the Ye’s recent remarks, however, Abrams believes the representative for the Floyd family have an uphill battle on their hands.
According to Abrams, the legal problem is this: “You can’t legally defame a person who has died. To be defamed, a person has to be living and lose respect or money or be ostracized as a result of the defamatory comments. And I don’t see how they get around that reality.”
But, the attorneys are aware of the challenge ahead of them and believe they know how to deal with it. While speaking with Abrams, they pointed to the Alex Jones case from Sandy Hook parents as precedent.
“Let’s use the Alex Jones case, the Sandy Hook verdict that recently came out. Let’s talk about that as precedent. You know, our claims are based in intentional infliction of emotional distress. In Texas, you cannot inflict emotional distress on another person, you can’t cause harm. I think what everybody is missing, you know, everybody’s talking about free speech right now. Everybody’s talking about, you know, … he has the right to say whatever he wants, and that’s just not true. But what is true is that … Americans have the right to free speech, but there are limitations of it,” Floyd family attorney Nuru Witherspoon said.
Abrams noted that with the Alex Jones case, a judgment was issued against him because he did not present a defense, and the parents, who are still living, were defamed.
Floyd family attorney Kay Harper Williams pushed back that there are plaintiffs in the Sandy Hook case against Alex Jones that did not have defamation claims.
“Some of the parents only had intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. Those are valid and can stand alone if we choose Texas as a jurisdiction,” Harper Williams said.
Another claim is misappropriation, which they believe a judge will be able to see.
“That’s just the unauthorized use of someone’s image and likeness,” Witherspoon said. “And I think you would agree with me, Dan, that Kanye West has absolutely used George Floyd’s name, his image and his likeness for profit. And he’s doing it without permission.”
The lawyers are looking at a variety of cases to help develop the exact framework for their own case against Ye and say they may get others like Candace Owens involved, as well.