Barstool Sports is firing back at Michael Rapaport‘s lawsuit accusing them of ruining his reputation by claiming he had herpes, saying they clearly meant it as an insult but nothing more.
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, Barstool Sports — along with on-air personalities Smitty, KFC and president Dave Portnoy — filed to have Rapaport’s defamation lawsuit thrown out.
Barstool argues the former employee failed to provide any evidence in his lawsuit they defamed him. They say while he alleged they made various “unflattering statements about Rapaport, including calling him an “old crusty herpe,” referred to Rapaport as having a “herpes infested mouth” and described Rapaport as a “herpe having, race baiting, D-list actor,” they argue Rapaport has not proven they did so with actual malice.
They point out, “For example, the phrases ‘fraudulent sack of shit,’ ‘old crusty herpe,’ and ‘lying fraud hack’ are generic insults which no reasonable reader would believe contain statements of fact. The statements have no clear meaning that could be proved true or false.”
Barstool says even Rapaport’s complaint makes it clear that the references to herpes were an insult and mocking the actor. The company say when put in context on the barstoolsports.com website and internet social media applications, it is clear the statements were opinion.
They state, “It is clear that no reasonable reader or listener would assume that Defendants were asserting facts concerning Rapaport’s medical condition. The references to ‘herpes’ in the allegedly defamatory statements were all part of a larger pattern of insulting Rapaport – calling him a ‘creepy herpes riddled failure,’ or a ‘old crusty herpe,’ or a ‘herpe having, race baiting, D-List actor.’ No reasonable reader of any of these statements would conclude they were statements of fact.”
They are demanding the claims for defamation be thrown out of court.
As The Blast first reported, Rapaport sued Barstool Sports and on-air personalities Smitty, KFC and president Dave Portnoy claiming he’s still owed $375,000 that stems from a deal he made with the sports entertainment website for $600,000.
Rapaport had been working for Barstool for a short time before he was fired back in February after engaging in a public Twitter feud with many of the company’s top players. Rapaport went from fighting with employees to actually attacking Barstool fans, and El Presidente stepped in to lay down the law and fire the actor.
Shortly after his termination, Rapaport sent Barstool a cease and desist letter for continuing to sell merchandise with his face on it. He claims he’s still owed a percentage of all the merchandise sold with his image.
Along with the money, Rapaport claimed Barstool engaged in a “campaign to discredit” and embarrass him, including accusing him of having herpes. The actor wanted to make it clear in legal documents that he does not have herpes.
He sued for breach of contract and defamation.
The case is ongoing.