Bristol Palin sued by bar heckler Stephen Hanks for defamation
Last September, Stephen Hanks was caught on camera heckling Bristol Palin and her mother Sarah Palin at a West Hollywood bar. This Wednesday, he sued Bristol in federal court for using his image to promote ‘Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp.’
E! News obtained court documents which detailed Hanks’ claim that Bristol defamed him. According to Hanks, the 21-year-old Bristol implied in an interview that she moved back to Alaska because of him. Hanks also objected to Lifetime using his image in promos for its upcoming reality series, ‘Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp.’
E! News further reported that a source close to Bristol Palin had confirmed reports of the lawsuit. The single mom’s camp intended to get the lawsuit thrown out.
According to the E! News source, Bristol suspected that Stephen Hanks planned all along to heckle her to get attention. The source noted that Saddle Ranch shared a parking lot with Hollywood TV. ”Instead, she confronted him,” the source said.
It so happened that a Lifetime camera crew had been following Bristol Palin during the time to shoot ‘Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp.’ The cameramen recorded the altercation, which made Hanks mad.
Hanks’ attorney exclusively told E! News that no one ever asked client to sign a release. Attorney Michael Gulden said that Stephen Hanks didn’t know that he was being filmed until Bristol Plain and her party left Saddle Ranch. Saddle Ranch management later informed Hanks that Bristol’s crew received permission for limited filming of ‘Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp.’
When Hanks spoke to Lifetime parent A&E about the allegedly unlawful use of his image, Attorney Gulden accused the network of being unresponsive, leaving Hanks and Gulden had no other choice but to file suit.
“He felt this was the only way he could protect his rights,” Attorney Michael Gulden said, and added that Hanks was “simply a patron at the bar.”
While Bristol Palin rode a mechanical bull, Stephen Hanks was caught on tape yelling “You’re mother’s a whore!” at her.
“He was with friends when he observed that Bristol was on the mechanical bull,” Attorney Gulden told E! News. Hanks’ lawyer explained that several bar patrons began talking about how they disliked Sarah Palin.
That was when Bristol Palin, who had finally fallen off the mechanical bull, approached Stephen Hanks. After he told her that he wanted her mother Sarah Palin to go to hell, Bristol asked if Hanks was “a homosexual.”
Hanks took the bait and asked why she assumed that. ”Because I can tell you are,” Bristol Palin told him. She gestured to his male companion and said, “That’s a nice wife you’ve got there.”
(This is from a woman who blasted President Barack Obama for supporting marriage equality.)
Stephen Hanks later issued an apology through his lawyer. Hanks admitted that he shouldn’t vented his opinion on Sarah Palin on Palin’s daughter.
“I wish Bristol success with her television show,” Hanks said during the time of his apology, “And much happiness in the future.”
Stephen Hanks sued Bristol Palin for unspecified damages for alleged defamation, invasion of right to privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and misappropriation of right of publicity.