Court Dismisses Libel Suit by Rap Critic

By | April 30, 2004 at 12:00 AM

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a libel lawsuit by a critic of violent rap lyrics who said two newspapers had mischaracterized her dispute with the estate of slain rapper Tupac Shakur and others.

C. DeLores Tucker, who led a national campaign against rap music with violent lyrics in the 1990s, had sued over lyrics in which Shakur rhymed her name with an obscenity. Her 1997 lawsuit alleged, among other things, that her husband, William Tucker, had suffered loss of “consortium.”

The Philadelphia Daily News and The Legal Intelligencer, a daily newspaper covering legal affairs in Philadelphia, were among the news organizations that reported on the lawsuit and interpreted loss of consortium to mean harm to the Tuckers’ sex life. Tucker said the claim had nothing to do with sex, but with “advice, society, companionship, i.e., defendants’ effect upon the ‘family union.'”

Thursday’s ruling said the Tuckers can plead their case again only if they assert that the newspapers had been told unequivocally that the loss of consortium claim was not about sex.

In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Tucker’s libel case against Newsweek and Time. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had said she was a public figure and had to prove that reporters wrote the stories with actual malice, and there was no proof of that. The original lawsuit against the estate of Shakur, who was shot to death in Las Vegas in 1996, was also dismissed.

There was no answer Thursday night at a phone number listed for DeLores Tucker in Philadelphia. A message left Thursday night at a number listed for a William Tucker was not immediately returned.

A Daily News editor declined comment, saying the newspaper had not had a chance to study the ruling. A phone message left at The Legal Intelligencer on Thursday night was not immediately returned.

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