Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Hustlers’ Libel Suit Was Dismissed
Lopez was sued for $40 million by the woman who inspired the film.
A federal judge in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York has formally dismissed a lawsuit filed against Jennifer Lopez‘s production company Nuyorican Productions, as well as Hustlers distributors STX, Gloria Sanchez Productions, Pole Sisters LLC, and 10 unnamed defendants. The lawsuit was filed by Samantha Barbash, whose life inspired screenwriter Lorene Scafaria to pen Hustlers, earlier this year.
According to court documents obtained by Entertainment Weekly, Barbash sued the above companies and persons for $40 million, split evenly between compensatory and punitive damages, for what she claims was exploitation and defamation of her character.
The court did rule that Hustlers was obviously inspired by the 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores,” written by Jessica Pressler, which chronicled Barbash’s real-life scheme of drugging and robbing of Wall Street men who frequented her exotic dance locale, the Lopez-helmed film did not use Barbash’s “name, portrait, picture, or voice,” therefore, her case was dismissed.
Lopez plays stripper Ramona Vega in Hustlers, who leads a group of exotic dancers who make their riches by drugging and robbing their wealthy clients. In 2017, Barbash plead guilty to her real-life crimes of conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny, but in her lawsuit, she claimed Hustlers made her character appear worse by having Vega come up with the drug cocktail used in the scheme.
But, because Barbash took part in press junkets, gave interviews in relation to the film, and even released a memoir at the time of Hustler’s release in 2019, the court decided it was “appropriate to treat Barbash as a limited-purpose public figure,” and defamation was not at play.