By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The sisters and widow of a fallen U.S. Marine from Wyoming called actor Alec Baldwin “entitled” in their response to his request for a dismissal of a $25 million lawsuit against him.
Cheyenne, Roice and Jiennah McCollum, the sisters and widow, respectively, of the late Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, filed a response Monday to Baldwin’s request that a federal court dismiss the $25 million lawsuit they filed against him on allegations he defamed members of the family on his Instagram page.
“This case is about an incredibly wealthy, incredibly famous man whose overwhelming sense of entitlement led him to attack the grieving widow and sisters of a deceased U.S. Marine in front of his 2.4 million Instagram followers…and who now seeks to avoid responsibility for the harm he caused them,” the response filing from the McCollums said.
The McCollums filed their lawsuit against Baldwin in January after he called Roice McCollum an “insurrectionist” on his Instagram page because she was present at a demonstration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, the day the U.S. Capitol was invaded.
Baldwin in April asked the court to dismiss the case, saying he should not be punished for simply expressing a political opinion.
But the McCollums, in their opposition to the dismissal request filed Monday, argued that Baldwin’s defaming post about Roice McCollum did not constitute as a political opinion, but rather “deeply troublesome” and harmful attacks “that opened a door to threats and false allegations against this Gold Star family that to this day has not been closed.”
The original post that prompted the McCollums’ lawsuit was made after Baldwin donated $5,000 to support Rylee’s wife and child following his death in Afghanistan.
According to the McCollums’ lawsuit, after donating money to the family, Baldwin reached out to Roice McCollum after seeing a post from her on Instagram that showed protestors outside of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Roice had attended a demonstration in support of former President Donald Trump, but did not take part in the attack on the Capitol that occurred that day.
Roice was also interviewed by the FBI, but was never investigated or charged with any wrongdoing.
The lawsuit said Baldwin called Roice an insurrectionist and then posted her picture to his own Instagram page, resulting in immediate insults and threats from some of his 2.4 million followers.
But Baldwin’s attorneys, in asking for the dismissal, argued that Baldwin cannot be sued for calling the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 an “insurrection,” as many other Republicans, Democrats and political officials have referred to it in the same way.
“Baldwin cannot be sued in Wyoming or be held liable for stating this political opinion,” his attorneys said earlier this month. “A contrary ruling would violate the U.S. Constitution…violate Wyoming common law and result in an outcome [the McCollums] claim to detest: a society in which someone can be legally punished for political speech.”
The attorneys also argued that since Baldwin has no connection to Wyoming, the federal court has no jurisdiction in the case and said that the messages between Baldwin and Roice McCollum where he referred to her as an insurrectionist were private and not shared with his followers, so his statements could not be considered defamatory.
The McCollum family’s attorneys argued that Baldwin is not like most Americans who use social media, since he is wealthy, famous and has a following of millions of people.
“In other words, the consequences of Baldwin’s actions are far more serious than those of ‘most Americans,'” the attorneys argued this week. “Baldwin cannot simply pick a fight in Wyoming and scurry back to his Manhattan penthouse claiming he is immune from the consequences of his actions in Wyoming.”
The McCollum attorneys also said Baldwin went out of his way to play the victim in his dismissal request and argued the actor knew exactly what he was doing and what he meant when he referred to Roice as an “insurrectionist” on his Instagram account.