Judge: $750M defamation suit by JonBenet Ramsey’s brother to proceed

The gravesite of JonBenet Ramsey, 6, is seen at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Boulder, Colo. A judge refused to throw out a defamation suit by Burke Ramsey, JonBenet's brother, against CBS. File photo by John Dickerson/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 6 (UPI) — A judge refused to throw out a $750 million defamation lawsuit by the brother of murdered JonBenet Ramsey against CBS for a documentary.

On Friday, Michigan 3rd Circuit Court District Judge David Groner denied a motion by CBS and other defendants in the suit, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

Burke Ramsey, now 30, filed the suit in December 2016, three months after the two-part docu-series, “The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey” aired on CBS. The documentary speculated how JonBenet Ramsey, 6, died after being found dead in her family’s basement in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 26, 1996. Family members later moved to Michigan, where the defamation suit is being tried in Detroit.

“The gist of ‘The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey’ is that JonBenet’s brother, Burke Ramsey, killed his 6-year-old sister,” according to the suit. The suit said that claim “is false and defamatory per se. Burke Ramsey did not kill his sister and had no involvement in her brutal murder.”

Burke Ramsey was 9 at the time of his sister’s death.

CBS wanted the suit dismissed because it didn’t state as a fact that Burke killed his sister and the comments relayed were opinion or theory.

“This court finds that the statements at issue and the docu-series as a whole could reasonably be understood as stating actual facts about Plaintiff,” according to the six-page ruling. “This court does not find that the ‘disclaimer’ at the beginning and at end of the program negate the docu-series potentially defamatory meaning.”

The lawsuit named James Kolar, the author of the 2012 book “Foreign Faction: Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet?” The suit alleges that the book is biased and was the CBS special’s primary source.

Burke Ramsey also filed a $150 million suit against a pathologist who participated in the series, Werner Spitz, over statements he made to the press about the case. The court declined to dismiss that matter.

And John Ramsey, JonBenet’s father, filed a defamation suit in October against CBS and the other defendants in Burke Ramsey’s suit. CBS’ motion to dismiss this suit hasn’t been argued.

Former Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy cleared the Ramsey family from culpability in 2008 after DNA examination. Stan Garnett, the current Boulder County District Attorney, said his office would investigate the case.


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