Judge Dismisses Phoebe Bridgers Accuser’s Suit Against Noël Wells, Who Warned Big Thief About Alleged Predatory Behavior
A Los Angeles County judge has dismissed Chris Nelson’s December 2020 defamation suit against Noël Wells, according to Rolling Stone. Nelson also filed a September 2021 defamation suit against Phoebe Bridgers, seeking $3.8 million, claiming Bridgers defamed him in an Instagram post alleging she witnessed “grooming, stealing, [and] violence” by Nelson.
Regarding Wells, who is a singer-songwriter, actress, and former Saturday Night Live cast member, Judge Gregory W. Alarcon ruled that Wells had a free speech right to warn Big Thief against working with Nelson, a producer. In a private email to Big Thief, Wells told the band she’d experienced “predatory” treatment while working with Nelson at his Sound Space studio. (Big Thief had solicited feedback about recording studios in an Instagram post that included a photo of singer Adrianne Lenker at Sound Space.) Wells said that Nelson changed the terms of their working arrangement and withheld her music when she didn’t accept them.
“Artistic and literary expression are protected by the First Amendment,” Judge Alarcon wrote in his decision, adding that he found Wells’ comments were made “in the advancement or assistance of the creation of music.”
Judge Alarcon also wrote that Nelson, whose initial complaint said that Wells’ statement to Big Thief was “false” and caused him emotional distress, never provided any evidence of damages or submitted a sworn declaration.
As for Nelson’s claim against Bridgers, the singer has not yet responded.