What Deadspin's Atlanta United story looks like now.

There’s another lawsuit against Deadspin’s parent company (Gizmodo Media Group, part of Univision following their 2016 purchase of Gawker Media Group in bankruptcy court), and this one comes from an Atlanta United fan. We previously saw Univision delete six Gawker Media posts that were the subject of active litigation in September following their acquisition of the company, including three from Deadspin, and another suit against Deadspin was filed in June (by Pregame.com’s RJ Bell, with Hulk Hogan lawyer Charles Harder representing him). Now, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Doug Roberson writes that Atlanta United fan Kevin Cheek is suing Gizmodo Media Group for libel after Deadspin published a story featuring an unrelated photo of him:

Kevin Cheek filed the lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court against Gizmodo Media Group on July 24.

The lawsuit is the result of the website publishing a story with the headline “Atlanta United Fans Break Into Homophobic Chant During Inaugural Game” and was accompanied by a file photo that featured Cheek but was not taken at the game. Gizmodo is owned by Univision Communications.

In the lawsuit, Cheek alleges that his reputation has been damaged and that he has been ridiculed.

The only information available in the court record so far is that Cheek is represented by attorney Albert M. Daykin of Roswell, GA, and that he has paid the $215 filing fee. Here’s the story, from Deadspin’s Tom Ley on March 7, which is actually titled “Atlanta United Fans Break Out Homophobic Chant During Inaugural Game.” That post now features a generic AP photo of Atlanta’s stadium, without any identifiable fans. The AJC’s report makes it seem like it previously used a photo featuring Cheek, though. Here’s the relevant part of Ley’s story:

Atlanta’s new MLS team made its debut on Sunday, losing to the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in front of 55,000 new fans. Some fans cheered the team on and enjoyed themselves, some fans continued to engage in embarrassing “football” cosplay, and some fans got homophobic.

 Throughout the game, fans in the stadium broke out the “Puto!” chant, an infamous and ubiquitous Mexican soccer chant that involves fans shouting a gay slur in unison as the opposing goalkeeper takes goal kicks. 

There’s no direct mention of Cheek there, and it seems unlikely he was even tagged by name in the photograph, so this would seemingly be a stiff challenge for him. It’s worth noting that the Hogan verdict that killed Gawker wasn’t about libel, but rather invasion of privacy, and that U.S. libel laws are generally not plaintiff-friendly (compared to other jurisdictions). However, they do vary by state, and Cheek may have the advantage of not being a public official (so the “actual malice” standard of the 1964 Supreme Court NY Times v. Sullivan decision may not apply); there also have been some libel awards over photo choices in the past. There’s no word yet on if Harder (who not only represented Hogan and is representing Bell, but also has represented many others suing Gawker and its titles) is involved, or if there’s any connection to Peter Thiel (who funded Hogan’s lawsuit, and some of the other ones against Gawker). We’ll see how this plays out.

[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

  • StoJa

    Fuuuuuuuck Gawker Media and every single one of their subsidiaries. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of self-important, SJW, douchbags .

    • Throughout the game, fans in the stadium broke out the “Puto!” chant, an infamous and ubiquitous Mexican soccer chant that involves fans shouting a gay slur in unison as the opposing goalkeeper takes goal kicks.

  • John Smith

    Fuuuuuuuck StoJa and every single one of their relatives. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of self-impotent, SWF, ballbags.

  • bbbbb100

    All other things aside, MLS fan culture is pretty idiotic. You’re not the EPL or La Liga and you NEVER will be, so just quit trying so hard.

    • ChrisInVenice

      What kind of d-bags go to games and compare themselves to fans from other teams let alone leagues on other continents, anyway?

  • Dale Moog

    WOW could it be you FUCKING ASSHOLES who are commenting here are SO STUPID you can not even understand this guy has NO CASE it will be thrown out because he was no mentioned by name and no direct reference to the homophobic comment was made you people are the real SJW’s out there

  • 2pcj

    I’m not familiar with Georgia law on this issue, but even if he wins on the merits I can’t imagine his damages will exceed his attorney’s fees. I can see a court possibly agreeing that there has been a violation of some relevant defamation law, but then failing to see actual damages in excess of several hundred dollars. It’s fine to win moral victories in court, but if you’re there for big bucks, you better be able to prove you’ve lost big bucks (or be sure that punitive damages are in play). I really hope he’s retained his lawyer on a contingency basis.

  • Maria-Erlinda Martinez

    What’s that rubbish of not letting express what one thinks? James Madison taught for posterity that second only to one’s inalienable property of the individual right to life (which starts at the moment the chromosomic matter of the spermatozoon and the egg couple together forming what i is called “zygote”, from Greek for “yoke”) is the the also inalienable individual right to one’s own thoughts and opinions and to express them. No one has the right to suppress those rights of others. Of course, everyone has the right to suppress them upon themselves but not on others. That said, and along such line, no one has the right to impose on anyone else what to think or opine. For example, no one has the right to impose on others to like me or impede to dislike and even abhor and detest me. And I have the inalienable right to like or dislike and even abhor and detest anyone else or anything .Ii is the hardcore-Left (echoed by parroting androids and other maggots of society) who –in their detestation of individualism for collectivism and consequently, detestation of individual property– seek to impose on society their views. It is recommendable, logically, not ever surrender your inalienable right to your very individual property to your inalienable right to think/opine whatever, and to however you express your thoughts. Of course, “you don’t cry ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/16c8752788ff23c7d0c903e5f66c5ddcdc45fd41466cc75b685ac2094638f2de.jpg

  • sportsfan365

    Sorry Gawker, but if you run an inflammatory story like this along with a picture of identifiable people you have defamed them, as it is certainly possible to expect that their reputation could be harmed, both now and in the future by the association of the headline with the picture.

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