Gilbert Arenas Sues Basketball Wives – Festival of Legal ‘SLAPPS’- Who Slapps the Hardest? #Anti-SLAPP Lawsuits

In Film Law, Trial by FASHIONENTLAW™

Top of the day to you folks! Happy Friday! Two places I enjoy spending my time, in a court of law and on the basketball court. Today you get exactly that plus a little sprinkle of Nollywood to the mix. Nollywood is Nigeria’s film industry and is now the second largest film producing industry in the world. For new readers, I am a Nigerian-American woman so I tend to comfortably discuss Nigeria and Africa’s film and entertainment industries, where applicable to illustrate or underscore salient legal theories in the USA, where I practice law.

Alright let’s kick the game off with a basketball toss in the air. Who catches the ball? Shed Media and Laura Govan. The Players are Orlando’s super talented Arenas, his ex-fiance Laura Govan and Shed Media, a leading creator and distributor of content.

Dikembe Mutumbo Says Not in My House Micheal Jordan, Wags Finger!
Basketball lovers you know the great African basketball player Dikembe Mutombo? He had a signature for blocking shots and wagging his finger, after the blocked shots, that emphasized a, “no, no, no, not in my house.” LOL! Well, we’ve got the same scenario here.

Our Dikembe Mutumbo is Arenas, in this instance. Arenas files for an injunction to “block” Laura Govan and Shed Media from going forward with airing ‘Basket Ball Wives.’

THR, Esq. in pertinent part reports:

“VH1’s reality series Basketball Wives isn’t too popular among NBA players. Already, Chris Bosh and Gilbert Arenas have sued the makers of the show, and others, such as Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal, have threatened litigation.

In the past week Arenas filed a motion seeking an injunction against the show. And in response, Arenas was hit with an anti-SLAPP motion contending he’s attempting to impinge constitutionally-protected speech.

Arenas, one of the NBA’s highest paid players as a guard for the Orlando Magic, is upset that former fiance Laura Govan, the mother of four of his children, is set to star in the latest season of Basketball Wives in Los Angeles, scheduled to debut on VH1 on August 29th.

With less than a month to go to the premiere, Arenas is stepping up his efforts to make sure the show never gets on the air. He’s seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent defendant Shed Media, producer of the show, from using his name, from using the term “Basketball Wives” that would suggest affiliation with basketball players such as himself, and from having a show that features Govan. . . “


The Dikembe Mutumbo Blocked Shot Move aka an Injunction – Okay Arenas impressed the basketball-legal fans with an impressive move by filing for an injunction. He filed for both money damages and an injunction.

What is an injunction? Here, as used, an injunction is where a party in a lawsuit ask the court to make another party refrain from an act. For example, if you discovered someone was reproducing your music or films without compensation and your consent, you would sue for copyright infringement. Asking for money damages is not enough. You need them to stop more reproduction of your work. To do that, you need an injunction. You are “blocking” someone from doing what they would like to keep doing! It needs a Dikembe Mutombo styled, “no, no, no, not in my house, wag your finger at them move.”

The Shed Media “I Will So Michael Jordan on Your Dikembe Move” aka ANTI-SLAPP Suit.
Dikembe Mutumbo is not only tall and formidable, when he blocked shots, even if you were hiding under a rock, you felt the sting. Basketball fans remember when Jordan DUNKED on Dikembe? Jordan flew in the air, dunked on Dikembe and then had the audacity to wag his finger. That was a classic moment in basketball history and one that is not to be forgotten.

Well, Shed Media pulled a Jordan move on Arenas’ Dikembe move with an ANTI-SLAPP lawsuit.

What is an Anti-SLAPP suit?
Shed Media is saying, “wait. Hold up a minute. Arenas, if you tell Laura or Shed Media that we cannot go forward with this suit, you are essentially trying to chill free speech, our CONSTITUTIONALLY protected speech. You can’t do that.”

Let’s break it down further.

FIRST, understand a quick legal sketch of how lawsuits work.

1. Plaintiff sues through a legal document called a “Complaint”
2. Defendant responds through a legal document called an “Answer”

  • Here Defendant also tries to figure out how to get the case dismissed or block the case in some form through motions that attack the complaint.

3. the third phase, loosely speaking, is where an investigation begins through what we call “Discovery.” The goal here is to gather evidence that will be used at trial.

  • While discovery is ongoing, both sides can file motions and make tactical moves to attack the opponent’s case and favor their side

4. After all the above drama, which can take 1-2years , if not longer,  and a truckload of money for all involved, we are ready for the real legal thrillers. The big classic fights you would see in the world of boxing. This is also known as a TRIAL.

Now back to our case. To understand the significance of the stunt Shed Media just pulled via Anti-SLAPP, you got to understand what SLAPP is all about.

What is a SLAPP?
SLAPP is an acronym that stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.

How is SLAPP Used
The US and state constitutions (California included) grants every person in the USA, the unequivocal right to a freedom speech and petition for the redress of grievances. These freedom permits you to speak freely on issues of public interest, petition on issues of public interest etc. You get the drift. Well, majority of the times, the status quo is not comfortable when there is opposition and challenge to the status quo. People get angry and while they may not be able to shut you down completely, they sure as heck can try to silence you through intimidation and censorship.

One way to do that is to “SLAPP” you back to reality. (No pun intended) It is irrelevant that they win the case they bring against you. The point is to intimidate you, make you rack up expensive legal bills defending their suit and do the inevitable, give up.

That is where the anti-SLAPP law suits come in. Anti-SLAPP suits basically say you can’t chill free speech. If you are hit with what looks like a SLAPP suit, you challenge back with an anti-SLAPP suit.

What is the Effect of an Anti-SLAPP suit?
Watch how cool this motion is you guys. Here is what an anti-SLAPP suit does:

  1. Shed Media’s Anti-Slapp Motion is a special motion to strike Arenas’ injunction that he filed
  2. For Arenas to prevail, he has to show, when he defends the anti-SLAPP motion, that there is a probability, under California statute- for example, that he can prevail on his original claims that he filed. Arenas legal claims are: Trademark Infringement and Dilution claims, False Advertising and Endorsement claims, Right of Publicity Claims and Unfair Competition. Please use the search button to search these causes of actions on this site. Also click on the video at the right side bar to watch as I cover some of these concepts in my interview with my colleague John Tehranian.
  3. Shed Media’s move amounts to the DUNK that Jordan did on Dikembe back in the day.  It immediately stops all discovery i.e. investigations. Hooray if you are Shed Media because you can immediately reduce the cost of litigation and just have the parties defend the anti-SLAPP motion.
  4. If you are Arenas, so not a good look because you cannot subpoena records or persons to get much needed evidence that you will need to defend against the anti-SLAPP suit. The discovery process is tolled i.e. stayed i.e. you can’t go anywhere.
  5. If you are Shed Media and you lose the anti-SLAPP motion, “it is still all good” because you can immediately appeal the ruling in the anti-SLAPP motion to the higher (appellate) court. This amounts to Jordan wagging his finger at Dikembe Mutombo after his historical dunk. It’s a “I’mma turn the tables on you Arenas. Wut? You thought you “was” Dikembe?” move.

Now what? Well, we get into the Nigerian Nollywood movies I introduced you to at the onset. This is where everyone begins “slapping” each other. Seriously Nollywood films are so dramatic. Have you seen one? You ought to visit to begin watching them. Nollywood KNOWS drama and in this instance, is perfect fit for this courtroom litigation. The Arenas v Basketball Wives case has so many “Slapps,” I thought I’d share this classic Nollywood clip where everyone slaps each other. This is only for your viewing.

If you live in the USA, do NOT physically slap anyone, unless of course you want to be charged with assault and battery, be thrown in jail and have to pay a hefty criminal defense bill to avoid a misdemeanor or even a felony (depending on what is in your hands when you slap) on your records. Yeah, you get the drift.

Watch the classic NBA Clip with Jordan and then check out Nollywood’s Festival of Slaps. 🙂 Drama!


Photocredit: Washington Post

Jordan Dunks on Dikembe

Nollywood’s Festival of Slaps