A federal judge in Wyoming has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by the family of a Wyoming Marine killed in Afghanistan against actor Alec Baldwin for internet abuse.
A federal judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by the family of an officer slain in Afghanistan against actor Alec Baldwin, claiming that the Wyoming court lacked jurisdiction over the case.
At the conclusion of the court proceedings, the family’s attorney told reporters that the matter would be refiled elsewhere.
Baldwin allegedly harassed the sisters and widow of Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum when he posted and commented on a photo shared online by one of McCollum’s sisters, Roice McCollum, who was in Washington during the January 6, 2021 insurgency.
According to the lawsuit, Baldwin gave $5,000 to the family after learning about Rylee McCollum’s murder in a blast at Kabul’s airport in August 2021, only weeks before his daughter was born. Roice McCollum, the deceased’s sister, was contacted by Baldwin via Instagram.
Baldwin saw that Roice McCollum had shared an almost year-old photo of US Capitol demonstrators from former President Donald Trump’s rally in January 2022. According to the complaint, the photo was shot on January 6, 2021, the day Congress tabulated the Electoral College ballots for the 2020 presidential election.
According to the lawsuit, Baldwin then sent her a private message confirming she had organized the fundraiser for her brother. According to court documents, she stated that her involvement in the rally was “absolutely legitimate.” Baldwin assured Roice McCollum that he would share her photo with his 2.4 million Instagram followers and wished her success.
According to the lawsuit, Roice McCollum received hundreds of negative reactions to his post. On behalf of her sister Cheyenne McCollum and Rylee’s wife, Jiennah McCollum, the complaint sought $25 million in damages.
Baldwin asked for the lawsuit to be dropped, arguing that he was only expressing his political opinions, that he had not been in Wyoming, and that the claims leveled by Cheyenne and Jiennah McCollum should be dismissed because he made no statements about them.
According to U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal, the case could not be brought in Wyoming because Baldwin made the posts from New York and they were not directed specifically at a Wyoming audience. Her judgment made no reference to the veracity of the allegations in the complaint.
“The allegedly tortious conduct by Mr. Baldwin in New York, by way of posting a photo and content on his own Instagram feed, was not deliberately directed at an audience in Wyoming, thus any allegation that it was intended to harm plaintiffs primarily or particularly in Wyoming is insufficient for personal jurisdiction,” the judge writes.
“We are happy with this outcome,” said Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney. “This is an important step toward dismissing the lawsuit, which aims to punish Mr. Baldwin for expressing his political views.”
The action would most likely be refiled in New York, where Baldwin lives, or in California, where he works, according to Dennis Postiglione, an attorney representing the McCollums.