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In the 7-page decision, Ryan O'Neal v. Craig Nevius (Case No. B238640), the California Second Appellate District Court has ruled the actor and long-time boy friend of the late Farrah Fawcett may proceed with his defamation case against a producer who alleged he stole an Andy Warhol painting from the actress' estate.
As reported by the THR, Esq. blog, the appellate court upheld an earlier trial court finding that denied the defendant's attempt to dismiss O'Neal's complaint under the state's anti-SLAPP law [Calif. Code Civ. Proc. sec. 425.16], ruling: "There is at least minimal merit to the defamation claim to satisfy the evidentiary standard to defeat an anti-SLAPP motion."
O'Neal sued Nevius for defamation and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, seeking more than $1 million damages. (See "TUOL" post 7/18/11). Both Good Morning America and Star Magazine reported--purportedly based on information provided by Nevius--that after Fawcett died of anal cancer in 2009, O'Neal concealed a Warhol portrait of her valued at $30 million in his home that was uncovered after daughter Tatum O'Neal repeated the allegation in her autobiography, Found. The University of Texas, to which Fawcett bequeathed her art collection, sued O'Neal to recover the silkscreen portrait that he insists is his.
The appellate decision sends the case back to the trial court.