Cardi B’s legal battle against Tasha K has reached a federal appeals court, where the YouTuber is now arguing that the rapper’s $4 million defamation verdict against her was the result of a “very lopsided presentation of evidence to the jury.”
Eight months after Cardi B won the massive verdict against Tasha over videos that made salacious claims about drug use, STDs and prostitution, the gossip blogger’s attorneys filed their opening brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, asking the court to overturn the outcome.
In the Monday filing, Tasha’s attorneys argued that the judge overseeing the trial withheld key evidence about the rapper’s “character,” mean the jurors didn’t get to see what the kind of “conduct” plaintiff engages in” or who Cardi B “truly is as a person.”
“The district court’s erroneous exclusion of plaintiff’s character evidence resulted in a very lopsided presentation of evidence to the jury,” wrote lawyers for Tasha, whose real name is Latasha Kebe.
In specific terms, they says they should have been able to show jurors evidence of Cardi B’s alleged “gang membership,” as well as well as her “threats to other bloggers” and “hateful comments to strangers on social media.” They also wanted to show videos she posted to Instagram around the same time she claimed she was having a “mental freaking crisis” as a result of Tasha’s videos.
The trip up the appellate ladder comes more than three years after Cardi B (real name Belcalis Almánzar) sued Tasha in 2019, over what the rapper’s lawyers called a “malicious campaign” to hurt Cardi’s reputation. The star’s attorneys said they had repeatedly tried – and failed – to get her to pull her videos down.
One Tasha video cited in the lawsuit includes a statement that Cardi had done sex acts “with beer bottles on f—ing stripper stages.” Others videos said the superstar had contracted herpes; that she had been a prostitute; that she had cheated on her husband; and that she had done hard drugs.
Following a trial in January, jurors sided decisively with Cardi B, holding Tasha liable for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They awarded more than $2.5 million in damages and another $1.3 million in legal fees incurred by the rapper, and Judge Ray later issued an injunction forcing her to pull the videos from the internet.
In launching her appeal on Monday, Tasha’s attorneys largely echoed an earlier brief filed in June. Because of procedural errors, that appeal was later withdrawn in favor of the new appeal started this week.
On top of challenging the evidence allowed at trial, Tasha’s attorneys also argued that Cardi’s lawyers had failed to prove that the blogger acted with so-called “actual malice” when she posted about the rapper – meaning that she had lied intentionally or had acted with a reckless disregard for the truth. That’s the strict legal standard that famous or powerful people must meet if they want to sue someone for defamation; Tasha’s lawyers say Cardi’s legal team failed to do so.
They pointed to various reasons for why the YouTuber believed the claims she made were true, like the claim about a debasing act with a beer bottle. They claimed Tasha had seen a video of the act featuring a woman who “looks just like” Cardi B on pornography websites, and that the rapper had not taken action against those sites.
“There was no evidence that any of Ms. Kebe’s stories about Plaintiff were fabricated by Ms. Kebe, a product of Ms. Kebe’s imagination, based wholly on an unverified anonymous call, or so inherently improbable that only a reckless person would have put them in circulation,” they wrote.
Cardi B will file a formal response brief in the weeks ahead.
Read Tasha’s entire appellate brief here: