Explaining Marilyn Manson’s Latest Lawsuit

ELI5: Negligence

Marilyn Manson has just filed a lawsuit against Evan Rachel Wood and Ashley Gore for intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation per se, among other things. This lawsuit came in response to claims of domestic violence, abuse, and rape made against Manson in 2021. Marilyn Manson’s lawsuit alleges that the women he’s suing, Evan Rachel Wood and Ashley Gore, made false claims against him, and encouraged other women associated with him to make false claims, in order to cause him financial ruin and emotional distress. However, due to the nuances of lawsuits, a lot of people are uncertain of what’s really going on with this one.


What is intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation per se? In Utah personal injury, intentional infliction of emotional distress has the following elements: the defendant’s conduct has been outrageous and intolerable, they acted with intent, or reckless disregard toward the probability of causing emotional distress, and the plaintiff suffered emotional distress. In Utah personal injury, defamation per se is different from regular defamation. What defamation per se means is that what was said about the plaintiff was so obviously damaging, the plaintiff does not need to prove that they were damaged, only the amount of the damage. Intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation per se are both things Manson is alleging. 


In case you haven’t been following Marilyn Manson’s career, Manson’s ex-fiance, Evan Rachel Wood, alleged in February of 2021 that he had committed various acts of domestic violence against her including, but not limited to, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and even rape. As this is being written, these allegations have not been proven in a court of law, though that could still change. Since Evan Rachel Wood has come forward with her allegations, other women have also come forward with allegations of their own. Though some of Marilyn Manson’s associates and exes have come out in support of him, others who knew him were unsurprised by these allegations. Since the allegations, Manson was dropped from his record label and from American Gods, a television show he had an acting role in.


There has been an ongoing criminal investigation into Marilyn Manson for the abuse allegations. However, charges have not been filed. District attorneys—not victims—are the ones who decide when, or if, charges will be filed. In this case, it’s likely that charges haven’t been filed because they’re either past the statute of limitations, or prosecutors believe that there isn’t enough evidence to convict Manson. However, if enough evidence is unearthed, the district attorney can decide to file charges. Furthermore, even if the investigation is closed, it could reopen at any time, especially if more evidence is found. If charges were to be filed against Manson, the criminal case would have to be resolved before Manson’s civil case could be resolved. And, if Manson is found guilty in a criminal case for abusing Evan Rachel Wood, he would have a more difficult time winning his civil case for defamation


If you’ve read the lawsuit, you’ve probably noticed that the bulk of the complaint is factual allegations. It’s important to understand that everything Manson alleged under “factual allegations” is still, and perhaps always will be, allegations. During fact discovery, both sides will try to determine which, if any, allegations are actual facts. For example, Manson’s lawsuit alleges that Gore was financially troubled. The parties can either stipulate to this, meaning they agree that it is a fact that Gore was having financial problems, or they can contest this fact and hire experts to prove otherwise and take the issue to trial. Depending on the allegations and the circumstances, a judge or jury may have to decide what is a fact. Legally, an allegation becomes a fact only after it is stipulated to by both sides, or it is found to be a fact by a judge or a jury. However, it’s important to note that Manson can allege pretty much anything under the factual allegations portion of a complaint, regardless of how much evidence he has that his allegations are true. 


The suit can’t just be dragged out forever. Most likely, the suit will be dropped, settled, or judged by a jury. It’s possible that Manson was motivated to file this lawsuit to preserve his public image. If that is a large motivator for him, the case would be less likely to settle since a judgment against the defendants could help Manson rebuild his image. The lawsuit could also be dropped if it turns out there’s fraud, misrepresentation, or not enough evidence. Lastly, the case could go before a jury—which Manson has requested—and they’ll decide. Lots of things can happen before a case goes in front of a jury. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for Utah personal injury claims and other civil suits to take years in order to settle or receive a judgment. 


At this point, there have been only allegations on both sides. However, when allegations of abuse are made, they need to be taken seriously. If you are in a relationship where you fear for your safety, it is important to know that you have options. In Utah, there are many organizations dedicated to helping survivors of domestic violence escape dangerous relationships and situations. Many of these organizations work to provide survivors with food, shelter, and other resources. If you have concerns about someone you love, do not wait to reach out to them. We can all work together in the fight against domestic violence.

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