High court throws out $4.2 million judgment animal trainer won in libel, privacy suit
NEVADA — The Nevada Supreme Court in Carson City in late January reversed by a 4-0 ruling a $4.2 million judgment won by an animal trainer in a libel and invasion of privacy suit.
The trainer, Bobby Berosini, sued two animal rights groups and three individuals after a Las Vegas dancer at the Stardust Hotel secretly videotaped Berosini in 1989 shaking and punching his orangutans and hitting them with a rod.
Berosini sued the defendants in Nevada district court in Las Vegas over the distribution of the tape and statements that he abuses his orangutans and beats them with a steel rod.
The Nevada Supreme Court held that the videotape was not false because it was an accurate portrayal, and not defamatory because Berosini justified his behavior. As for the statements charging abuse, the court held that this was protected opinion.
The court rejected Berosini’s claim that the taping violated his common law right to privacy through misappropriation. The court held that Nevada’s right of publicity statute, which Berosini did not plead, provides the proper avenue for his claim.
The court also rejected Berosini’s claim of intrusion on his seclusion, holding that he had no expectation of privacy while preparing his act in the busy backstage of the Stardust Hotel.
(PETA v. Bobby Berosini, Ltd.; Counsel: Robert D. Martin, Las Vegas)