In May, exercise guru Richard Simmons, who has been the subject of various rumor-filled reports in recent years, sued the National Enquirer and Radar Online for falsely reporting that he was transitioning to become a trans woman. The lawsuit didn't go as the "Sweatin' to the Oldies" star planned. He's now being ordered to pay $130,000 to the defendants.
"Richard Simmons: He's Now a Woman," declared the National Enquirer in June 2016; Radar Online ran a similar article. In response, Simmons sued the outlets and their publisher American Media. In a hearing in August, Simmons' attorneys accused National Enquirer of deliberately trying to "humiliate" Simmons.
"The object of the National Enquirer was to do everything they could to humiliate this person," argued Nevile Johnson, one of Simmons' attorneys. "They made it up entirely out of whole cloth. I submit that when you make something up intentionally … and put it on the cover, there’s an inference you can make that somebody’s reputation is going to be harmed."
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian sided with the two media outlets and dismissed the 69-year-old celebrity's case, ruling in September that alleging that someone is transgender is not necessarily defamatory because it does not inherently expose a person to "hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy," as Variety reported at the time. "While, as a practical matter, the characteristic may be held in contempt by a portion of the population, the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them," he ruled.
American Media filed a motion seeking repayment for legal fees for the dismissed case in January. On Friday, Keosian again sided with the publisher, ordering Simmons to pay nearly $130,000 to cover some of the defendants' legal fees for his failed lawsuit. While the outcome was surely welcomed by the publisher, the amount is still about $90,000 less than they'd requested.
In his original complaint, Simmons underscored that he was not trying to insult the transgender community by declaring the false claim to be an attempt to humiliate him.