By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against actor Alec Baldwin filed by the Wyoming family of a fallen U.S. Marine, saying the family failed to prove the court had any jurisdiction over Baldwin’s actions.
Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled that the Roice, Cheyenne and Jiennah McCollum failed to prove that Baldwin’s comments on his Instagram feed amounted to action on his part the court could address.
“The only few factual allegations relating to Mr. Baldwin’s intentional actions are the few private Instagram messages he sent to Roice McCollum and the post on his own Instagram feed,” Freudenthal wrote. “Mr. Baldwin’s public post on his own Instagram feed cannot reasonably be considered expressly aimed at Wyoming given [his] 2.4 million Instagram followers.”
This ruling ends the lawsuit filed by the sisters and Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum in January, which sought $25 million in damages on allegations that Baldwin defamed the McCollums with information he shared on his Instagram account.
Freudenthal agreed with arguments by Baldwin’s attorneys that nothing in his Instagram statements could be found to be aimed specifically at his Instagram followers in Wyoming, so a Wyoming court is the improper place to hear the case.
“… (The) allegedly tortious conduct by Mr. Baldwin in New York, by way of posting a photo and content on his own Instagram feed, was not deliberately directed at an audience in Wyoming, thus any allegations that it was intended to harm (the McCollums) primarily or particularly in Wyoming is insufficient for personal jurisdiction,” she wrote.
After Rylee McCollum’s death in August, Baldwin sent the family $5,000 to help support McCollum’s widow Jiennah and her child. He communicated with Rylee’s sister Roice to make the contribution.
Later, Baldwin referred to Roice McCollum as an “insurrectionist” on his Instagram page because she attended a demonstration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, the day the U.S. Capitol was invaded. Roice, who posted a picture of a demonstration in Washington, D.C., on that day, had attended a demonstration in support of former President Donald Trump, but did not take part in the attack on the Capitol.
In the lawsuit filed by the McCollums, the family alleged Baldwin then posted Roice McCollum’s picture to his own Instagram page, resulting in immediate insults and threats from some of his 2.4 million followers against not only Roice McCollum, but the fallen Marine’s other sister, widow and child.
Baldwin’s attorneys in April asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, arguing that Baldwin cannot be sued for calling the attack on the U.S. Capitol an “insurrection” as many Republicans, Democrats and political officials have referred to it in the same way.
Baldwin also argued that he did nothing more than exercise his First Amendment rights with his posting.
The McCollums, in their own argument against dismissal, called Baldwin “entitled.”
“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.