'It's important to stand up to bullies': Actress Rebel Wilson wins record amount in defamation case
Rebel Wilson just made Australian history.
A judge on Wednesday awarded her $4.56 million Australian dollars ($3.66 million U.S.) in damages over articles published by Bauer Media that Wilson said cost her film roles. Back in June, an Australian jury ruled that the 2015 articles branded Wilson as "a serial liar" who had "fabricated almost every aspect of her life" - including her age, upbringing and the origin of her name.
"Today was the end of a long and hard court battle against Bauer Media who viciously tried to take me down with a series of false articles," Wilson wrote on Twitter.
The award - which Justice John Dixon said was based on the estimated amount Wilson lost out on following the success of "Pitch Perfect 2″ - is four times the amount of the previous Australian record for a defamation case, according to Wilson's lawyers.
Wilson said on social media, "to me though, this case wasn't about the money," and she plans to support charities and the country's film industry with her damages.
"It was important for me to set the record straight, especially because I have so many young fans," she posted on Instagram. "I also feel like it's important to stand up to bullies."
Bauer publishes Woman's Day, Australian Women's Weekly, NW and OK, with story lines that get picked up by U.S. entertainment industry outlets.
Dixon ruled "only a substantial sum in damages could convince the public" that Wilson isn't dishonest and "bring home the gravity" the damage to her reputation caused.
"In the full media glare, Bauer Media's defense of this case attempted to characterize its articles as true or as trivial or not likely to be taken seriously," Dixon said in his ruling. "Unless substantial damages are awarded there is a real risk that the public will not be convinced of the seriousness of the defamation, but will rather wrongly conclude that the articles were trivial or not that serious."
Dixon also said Bauer knowingly published false statements about Wilson in Women's Day; that the allegations in the story were from "a source who required payment and anonymity and whom the editor considered 'had an axe to grind'"; and that the media coverage was orchestrated to coincide with the release of "Pitch Perfect 2″ to maximize the company's profits.
The record sum may affect future cases in Australia, but the ruling's impact may not extend beyond its borders. For instance, defamation laws in Australia are stricter than in the United States.
Wilson had initially asked for $7 million (Australian) in damages, which Bauer described as "extraordinarily large," saying that the claim was made on the "most tenuous of bases."
A lawyer for the company had previously said in court that Wilson failed to show how the articles led to financial loses, the Associated Press reported.
Bauer said in a statement Wednesday it was "considering today's judgement," CNN reported.
The publisher "has a long history of delivering great stories to our readers and we have a reputation for developing some of the best editorial teams in this country," said Bauer general counsel Adrian Gross, according to CNN.