Update: According to Ethan Klein, the cybersquatting lawsuit filed by Kavanaugh earlier this week was also thrown out, leaving only two lawsuits.
Original Article: Ethan Klein announced on Thursday that Teddy Fresh and H3H3 won the tortious interference lawsuit brought against them by Triller in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, that alleged Klein and Teddy Fresh, which is operated by Hila Klein, engaged in unfair business practices and extortion by allegedly making disparaging remarks about the app on the H3 podcast in an alleged scheme to extort Triller.
The case was dismissed following an anti-SLAPP motion filed by the Klein's, which means the case was dismissed with prejudice and cannot be refiled by Triller after the company failed to provide a minimum level of evidence for the case to continue. The Klein's and H3H3 productions still face the copyright lawsuit from Triller, as well as a defamation and cybersquatting lawsuit from Triller owner Ryan Kavanaugh.
Ethan and Hila Klein win their tortious interference lawsuit
The lawsuit dismissed this week was for tortious interference. It was filed under the California Business and Professions Code section 17200, which bans unfair and misleading business practices. That suite specifically used Penal Code 518, which bans extortion.
Triller alleged Teddy Fresh and H3 violated this code by making false statements designed to harm Triller's reputation on the H3 podcast that drove low ratings for Triller on digital app stores. According to the court, Triller claimed the disparaging statements were made "as part of a larger scheme to extort Fight Club and [Triller]" though no evidence of such an ultimatum was ever presented to the court.
The court granted the Klein's motion to strike the case with prejudice after the Klein's filed an Anti-SLAPP motion that requires the Plaintiff to provide evidence that shows their case has a minimum probability of success, which would at the very minimum require that they produce evidence the statements were false and that there was an extortion demand.
According to the judgment handed down this week, as shared by Former LA Deputy District Attorney Emily Baker on Twitter, "[Triller] has failed to carry its burden of offering evidence to show a probability of success on the merits." The judgment continued, "negative reviews along with statements from the podcasts do not meet the minimum requirement to show a probability of success for extortion."
Anti-SLAPP rules are a set of laws designed to ban the practice of suing someone to intimidate them from exercising their first amendment rights. Because H3H3 won the suit with an anti-SLAPP motion, the Triller tortious interference suit has been dismissed with prejudice, which means it cannot be refiled by Triller. The court rejected a request by Triller to amend the complaint earlier this week. Klein will also be able to potentially collect attorney fees from Triller over the case, though he may have to sue the company to get those fees.
Two cases down, two to go
This week's ruling is Ethan and Hila Klein's first win in the four lawsuits filed against them and their companies by Kavanaugh and his company Triller over the past year.
The remaining lawsuits are:
- A copyright lawsuit, in which Triller alleges that Klein pirated the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren fight when he reacted to 1 minute of that fight on his podcast days after the fight took place.
- A second defamation lawsuit from Kavanaugh, alleging that Klein made defamatory statements about him and used SEO in an attempt to harm Kavanaugh's reputation.
- The third suit was filed this past week, with Kavanaugh suing Klein for cybersquatting due to Klein's satire website https://doesryankavanaughlooklikeharveyweinstein.com/. This lawsuit was reportedly also thrown on on Thursday.
The Klein's continue litigation on the remaining two cases, though according to Baker, this week's ruling comes "after the Court determined that the [Kavanugh] defamation suit is related to the now-dismissed Triller suit," which means the judge will likely dismiss the Kavanaugh defamation suite as well.
We will continue to follow the Klein's legal embroilment with Triller and Kavanaugh, so stay tuned for updates.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.