Taylor Swift in court as jury seated in civil trial


The pop star was in Colorado in August to face off against former KYGO radio host David Mueller. The jury returned a guilty verdict and Taylor Swift won her symbolic “$1 dollar.”

The pop star accuses former KYGO radio host David Mueller of groping her at a backstage meet-and-greet. “It was completely intentional, and I have never been so sure of anything in my life,” she testified at a deposition.

Swift vs Mueller by Syndicated News SNN.BZ on Scribd

Swift Juror Questionnaire by Syndicated News SNN.BZ on Scribd

In turn, Mueller denies the assault and battery claim and contends that Swift and her team got him fired for no good reason.

Both versions will be heard by a jury at a nine-day trial beginning Aug. 7 as a Colorado federal judge on Wednesday partially rejected Swift’s summary judgment bid to defeat Mueller’s claims. Mueller won’t move ahead on slander, but he’s being given the opportunity to make a case for tortious interference.

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 7: A man talks a photo of the sign outside Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse on August 7, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Jury selection began in the trail Taylor Swift against a Colorado radio personality, David Mueller, over allegations the former disc jockey fondled her four years ago. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 7: Federal police wait outside the Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse as media stands under tents on August 7, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Jury selection began in the trail Taylor Swift against a Colorado radio personality, David Mueller, over allegations the former disc jockey fondled her four years ago. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 7: Tree Paine, Taylor Swift’s publicist center, walks into Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse on August 7, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Jury selection began in the trail Taylor Swift against a Colorado radio personality, David Mueller, over allegations the former disc jockey fondled her four years ago. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 7: Tree Paine, Taylor Swift’s publicist center, walks into Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse on August 7, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Jury selection began in the trail Taylor Swift against a Colorado radio personality, David Mueller, over allegations the former disc jockey fondled her four years ago. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO. – JUNE 02: Taylor Swift performs to a sold out crowd June 2, 2013 during her Red Tour stop in Denver at Pepsi Center. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post)

“Having reviewed these evidentiary materials, the Court finds that the central and genuine dispute remains,” writes U.S. District Court judge William Martinez in the opinion. “Certain witnesses’ testimony tends to corroborate Swift’s version of events, and Mueller points to other evidence that he argues shows inconsistencies in Swift’s story. None of this changes the reality that if a jury accepts Mueller’s version of the facts, then it must substantially reject Swift’s version, and vice versa. In ruling on summary judgment, it is not the Court’s role to resolve this dispute.”


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However, the judge did have to weigh whether Mueller presented enough evidence to meet the elements of a proper claim of intention interference with contractual relations.


Martinez writes that given the Swift team’s familiarity with KYGO, a jury could conclude that she and other defendants — her mother, Andrea, and Swift’s radio promotions director, Frank Bell — reasonably should have known that Mueller had some form of employment contract.

The judge then examines communications between Swift’s camp and KYGO and finds a jury could come to the conclusion they acted with an intent to cause his termination. As for whether there was any improper interference via economic pressure, the judge nods to deposition testimony that KYGO may have feared action by Swift and says a jury should decide this question.

“Second, treating Mueller’s testimony as true, a jury that found he was wrongly accused might, as a consequence, also conclude that Defendants acted with reckless disregard for the veracity of their accusations, or based on a grossly inadequate investigation,” writes the judge.

 

Martinez adds, “To be clear, the Court views this as a close question. There would appear to be nothing improper about Swift — or any other person — making an honest report to an entity with which she does business that one of its employees assaulted or harassed her. Indeed, in the undersigned’s view, the policy of the law should encourage the reporting of actual assaults, not attach liability to it. … Nevertheless, in considering the present record, the law requires the Court to treat Mueller’s version of the facts as true at this stage of litigation, and therefore to view the entire record from a standpoint that views Mueller as having been wrongly accused.”

The judge also rejects the argument at this stage that Swift can’t be held liable for Mueller’s termination because she was not the cause of it. Swift argued that it was KYGO’s independent investigation that triggered the firing, but Martinez says when viewing the evidence most favorably to Mueller, “the record does not reflect a truly independent investigation,” and that under Colorado law, proximate cause needn’t be a prerequisite to liability for intentional interference with contract.

Swift does get one victory (or two, if one wants to be generous to her).

The judge decides to throw out Mueller’s separate claims for slander per se and slander per quod.

The radio DJ put forward in an amended complaint that Swift’s statements about his conduct were false and how those statements caused harm to his reputation, profession and standing in the community. The problem for him is that there was a one-year statute of limitations on slander claims. Mueller argued that after Swift filed her own claims, it gave him another shot.

“Put another way, Mueller asks the Court to treat his slander claims as ‘counter-counterclaims,’ responsive to Swift’s assault and battery claims,” writes the judge, who thinks that’s a bad idea because it will allow clever lawyers to beat time limits. “[T]he Court rejects Mueller’s interpretation because it would invite undue litigation gamesmanship, allowing parties to file successive rounds of ‘revived’ counter- claims, counter-counterclaims, counter-counter-counterclaims, etc., even they were asserted further and further outside the applicable limitations period. That perverse result would be contrary to the recognized purposes of enforcing limitations periods.”

The judge is also requiring all parties — including Swift — to be present during the entirety of the jury trial. Expect Swift in Colorado this August.


What’s involved in this latest celebrity lawsuit:

Who is suing whom?

David Mueller, a Denver radio host, then 51, sued Swift in 2015, two years after he was fired by his station for alleged violation of the morality clause in his contract. He says he was fired two days after Swift, her mother, Andrea Swift, and manager complained he touched Swift inappropriately at pre-concert event during Swift’s Red tour.

Mueller claimed in his lawsuit that he didn’t touch Swift (“I am sure that I did not,” he says, according to court documents), and that she and the others slandered him and pressured his employer to fire him.

Swift, then 23, countersued Mueller in 2015, alleging publicly for the first time that he intentionally groped her during a photo shoot at the event — “I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life,” she said in a later deposition. She asserted she had nothing to do with Mueller losing his job.

What was the last major ruling in the case?

U.S. District Judge William Martinez declined in May to grant summary judgment (meaning, finding in favor of one of them without a trial) but did throw out Mueller’s slander allegation.

The trial begins Monday with jury selection and is expected to last nine days. The case is in federal court because neither Swift nor Mueller live in the same state. No cameras are allowed in the courtroom, as per usual in federal courts, and security will be tight thanks to the presence of the pop superstar.

What will Swift testify about?

According to legal documents in the case, she will testify about “Mueller assaulting her by lifting her skirt and grabbing her bare bottom at her June 2, 2013, fan meet-and-greet, her reaction to Mueller’s conduct, and how it affected her.”

“He took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there,” Swift says in court documents.

She will testify that she had no reason or motive to fabricate a claim that Mueller of groped her, as he and his lawyer have suggested, and that she never directed anyone to have Mueller fired.

What will Mueller testify about?

According to court documents, he will talk about the “facts and circumstances surrounding the meet-and-greet, and “the fact that he did not inappropriately touch Ms. Swift.” He also will testify about the impact of losing his job and the “defamation” of his character.

Mueller, who worked for a Denver country-music station, attended the event with his girlfriend and jumped into a photo with Swift. He says Swift was cordial as he and his girlfriend left, but when he returned to the arena after going to his car, he was confronted by Swift’s security guard.

Mueller argues that the guard did not react during the photo shoot and that as many as 20 other people took photographs with Swift after Mueller left.

Did Swift report the incident to police?

No. Although such an act would be a misdemeanor under local law and could lead to a possible jail sentence, Swift did not report it. Instead, she told her security guard and a photographer who witnessed the photo shoot, and discussed the matter with her mother and management team.

Swift tried to keep the situation “discreet and quiet and confidential,” her lawyer, Douglas Baldridge, has argued in court.

What’s a key piece of evidence?

A photograph of the encounter between the two, which has been sealed. It’s also disputed: Swift’s lawyers called the image “damning” proof that Mueller inappropriately touched her. Mueller argues it shows him trying to jump into the picture.

What does Swift want?

She is seeking a verdict that awards her $1, while holding Mueller responsible and “serving as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts,” according to her lawsuit.

What does Mueller want?

He wants his name cleared, and he wants $3 million in damages. His attorney, Gabriel McFarland, has argued that someone else touched Swift and Mueller may have been misidentified.

In court filings, Swift said while her manager informed KYGO management about the incident, she did not demand that Mueller be fired.

The radio station conducted its own investigation, and two days after the incident fired Mueller for violating the morality clause of his contract, court documents show.

The judge has placed a gag order on all parties, and attorneys for both sides did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Swift, one of the most successful contemporary music artists, earned $170 million between June 2015 and June 2016 following a world tour and her best-selling “1989” album, according to Forbes Magazine.

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