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Wyoming Marine Family’s Lawsuit Against Alec Baldwin Thrown Out

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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.

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Alec Baldwin Claims 1st Amendment Protection After Calling Fallen Wyo Marine’s Family “Insurrectionists”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Actor Alec Baldwin is claiming that the family members of a fallen U.S. Marine from Jackson are responding to his request for dismissal of their $25 million lawsuit against him with “misdirection” rather than addressing the facts of the case.

Baldwin filed a response this week to Jiennah, Roice and Cheyenne McCollum’s own reply to his request for dismissal, saying the family has failed to prove he did anything but exercise his First Amendment rights when he referred to Roice McCollum as an “insurrectionist.”

“The First Amendment protects all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, fame or wealth,” Baldwin’s attorneys in court documents filed Monday. “Baldwin expressed his protected political opinion about the events of Jan. 6. [The McCollums] try hard to make this case about something else – rich versus poor, celebrities versus ‘most Americans,’ red states versus blue states. But it’s not.”

Baldwin’s response also said the McCollums failed to directly counter his arguments that the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne has no jurisdiction over the case and that he committed no wrong.

“These tactics cannot sustain (the McCollums’) case,” the response said.

Background

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.

The comments came after Baldwin sent a check for $5,000 to help support the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McColumn, who was killed in Afghanistan.

According to the McCollums’ lawsuit, after donating money to the family, Baldwin reached out to Roice McCollumm Rylee’s sister, 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.

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 against not only Roice McCollum, but the fallen Marine’s widow and child.

Baldwin’s attorneys earlier this month asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, arguing 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 Is Different

The McCollum family’s attorneys, in their response to Baldwin’s request, 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 family’s attorneys argued. “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.”

But Baldwin’s reply Monday said none of the McCollums’ arguments were relevant in their response to his request, which he said was based on numerous legal arguments.

“In response, (the McCollums) did not distinguish those authorities,” his reply said. “Plaintiffs instead chose a different path: misdirection.”

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Fallen Wyoming Marine’s Family Say Alec Baldwin’s “Entitlement” Led Him to Attack Them

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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.

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Baldwin Asks For Dismissal Of $25 Million Defamation Lawsuit Filed By Family Of Fallen Marine

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Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for National Geographic
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Actor Alec Baldwin on Monday asked a federal judge in Wyoming to dismiss a $25 million defamation lawsuit against him by the family of a U.S. Marine who was killed in Afghanistan.

Attorneys for Baldwin, in a memorandum supporting his request for dismissal filed Monday, said the family of Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum had failed to state a case against Baldwin.

“This is a political dispute masquerading as a lawsuit, motivated further by money. The public square—not this Court—is the proper place to debate Alec Baldwin’s opinion,” the memorandum said.

The sisters and widow of McCollum filed the lawsuit against Baldwin in January, claiming earlier this year, claiming a post he made on Instagram and shared with his followers about one of the sisters, Roice McCollum, amounted to defamation.

The post was made after Baldwin donated $5,000 to the family last year after Rylee’s death to support his wife and child.

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.

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.

As such, the actor was simply stating his opinion on an issue, the lawsuit said and should not be punished for it.

“Baldwin cannot be sued in Wyoming or be held liable for stating this political opinion,” the attorneys said. “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 claims based on Baldwin and Roice’s private Instagram messages are defective, because private communications between two parties cannot be defamatory,” the court documents said.

Nor did Baldwin ever make comments about Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s other sister, or Jiennah McCollum, his widow, so there are no claims they can make against him, the memo said.

The attorneys additionally claimed that since Roice McCollum previously stated she had been in the area of the Capitol prior to the attack, Baldwin did not intrude on her privacy by sharing that she was an “insurrectionist.”

As a result, the lawsuit against Baldwin should be dismissed as an assault on the rights of free speech, the memo to U.S. District Judge Kelly Rankin said.

“Should we open the courthouse for claims against everyone who has publicly referred to January 6 as an “insurrection”—the Democratic Party, some members of the Republican Party, Senator McConnell, President Biden, nearly every major news organization, and more?” it asked. “Would this case exist if Baldwin weren’t a well-known actor? Would Plaintiffs be asking for $25 million? No, clearly not.”

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Judge Allows Alec Baldwin’s NY Attorney To Represent Him In Wyoming Defamation Case

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that actor Alec Baldwin’s New York attorney can represent him in Wyoming in the $25 million defamation lawsuit filed against Baldwin by the family of a Wyoming man killed in action in Afghanistan.

Judge Kelly Rankin approved a request that attorney Luke Nikas, who is not licensed to practice law in Wyoming, be allowed to represent Baldwin in the case.

Nikas holds a degree from Harvard Law School and his practice areas range from media and entertainment litigation to art litigation.

Nikas has represented Baldwin in other cases, most recently regarding the actor’s accidental shooting and killing of a cinematographer and injuring of the director on the film set, “Rust.” Baldwin has been named in several lawsuits regarding the incident, in which he was practicing for a scene that required him to draw a gun.

Baldwin has claimed no legal responsibility for the cinematographer’s death.

In the Wyoming case, Baldwin is accused of defaming multiple members of Rylee McCollum’s family on Instagram. McCollum was the U.S. Marine from Jackson who was killed as the United States was pulling out of Afghanistan in August 2021.

Three attorneys from the Cheyenne law firm Long, Reimer and Winegar have submitted notices to the court that they will be Baldwin’s local counsel.

Roice and Cheyenne McCollum, the sisters of Rylee McCollum, and his widow Jiennah McCollum are asking for damages of at least $25 million in the lawsuit filed in January.

According to the lawsuit, Baldwin first contacted the McCollum family in August, sending Rylee’s sister Roice McCollum a check for $5,000 to help Rylee’s wife and child.

The check was “a tribute to a fallen soldier,” Baldwin told Roice.

Court documents state that on Jan. 3, Roice posted a photo on her Instagram page that she took on Jan. 6, 2021, showing a crowd of demonstrators at the Washington Monument. Roice posted the photo, the lawsuit said, in anticipation of the 1-year anniversary of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

While Roice attended a demonstration in Washington, D.C., in support of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, she was not involved in the subsequent invasion of the U.S. Capitol and while she was later interviewed by the FBI, she was never accused of or charged with a crime.

Baldwin commented on Roice’s posting, asking, “Are you the same woman I sent the $ for your sister’s husband who was killed during the Afghanistan exit?”

Upon confirmation that she was the sister of Rylee McCollum, Baldwin sent private messages Roice and accused her of being an insurrectionist.

“When I sent the $ for your late brother, out of real respect for his service to this country, I didn’t know you were a January 6th rioter,” Baldwin wrote in one message.

Roice responded by telling the actor that protesting was legal in the United States and that she had already spoken with the FBI, but he persisted, according to the lawsuit.

“Your activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election. I reposted your photo. Good luck,” Baldwin wrote back.

Baldwin later claimed on social media that he was trying to point out irony in his reposting of her photo, by juxtaposing her brother’s sacrifice for the country with Roice being an “insurrectionist.”

Baldwin reposted Roice’s photo on his own Instagram account, which has 2.4 million followers, discussing the Capitol attack and mentioning Roice’s involvement in the protest on Jan. 6, 2021.

Within 20 minutes of his post, Roice began to receive hostile, aggressive and hateful messages from Baldwin’s followers, the lawsuit said.

One message said “Get raped and die, you worthless [expletive]. Your brother got what he deserved.” Roice forwarded this message on to Baldwin, sarcastically thanking him for the post.

Baldwin ultimately followed the person who sent the message on Instagram. He also chimed in on the feed, calling Roice an insurrectionist and claiming she participated in the riot.

He also misidentified Jiennah as an insurrectionist in one Instagram comment, although she was not in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. People began sending hateful and threatening messages Jiennah and Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s eldest sister, the lawsuit said.

Other messages called on Baldwin to get a refund of his money and comparing the McCollum family to ISIS and Nazis.

Baldwin did nothing to stop his followers from contacting the family, the lawsuit said.

“Baldwin’s conduct was negligent and reckless as he should have known that making the allegations he did against Plaintiffs to his millions of followers would cause Plaintiffs harm,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims the three women have suffered from headaches, nausea, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, mental distress and fear for their lives due to Baldwin’s post.

The lawsuit seeks damages for all three women on allegations of defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress

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Sisters, Widow Of Fallen Wyoming Marine Suing Alec Baldwin For Instagram Defamation

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The sisters and widow of a Wyoming Marine killed in the line of duty in August are suing actor Alec Baldwin for defamation, accusing him of making false allegations on his Instagram account about their involvement in the invasion of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Roice and Cheyenne McCollum, the sisters of Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, and his widow Jiennah McCollum are asking for damages of at least $25 million in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Wyoming.

According to the lawsuit, Baldwin first contacted the McCollum family in August after Rylee McCollum was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Baldwin reached out to Roice McCollum, Rylee’s older sister, and sent her a check for $5,000 for Jiennah McCollum and her child. The check was “a tribute to a fallen soldier,” Baldwin told Roice.

The court documents state that on Jan. 3, Roice posted a photo on her Instagram page that she took on Jan. 6, 2021, showing a crowd of demonstrators at the Washington Monument. Roice posted the photo, the lawsuit said, in anticipation of the 1-year anniversary of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

While Roice attended a demonstration in Washington, D.C., in support of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, she was not involved in the riot and while she was later interviewed by the FBI, she was never accused of or charged with a crime.

Baldwin commented on Roice’s posting, asking, “Are you the same woman I sent the $ for your sister’s husband who was killed during the Afghanistan exit?”

Upon confirmation that she was the sister of Rylee McCollum, Baldwin sent private messages Roice and accused her of being an insurrectionist.

“When I sent the $ for your late brother, out of real respect for his service to this country, I didn’t know you were a January 6th rioter,” Baldwin wrote in one message.

Roice responded by telling the actor that protesting was legal in the United States and that she had already spoken with the FBI, but he persisted, according to the lawsuit.

“Your activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election. I reposted your photo. Good luck,” Baldwin wrote back.

Baldwin later claimed on social media that he was trying to point out irony in his reposting of her phot, by juxtaposing her brother’s sacrifice for the country with Roice being an “insurrectionist.”

Baldwin reposted Roice’s photo on his own Instagram account, which has 2.4 million followers, discussing the Capitol attack and mentioning Roice’s involvement in the protest on Jan. 6, 2021.

Within 20 minutes of his post, Roice began to receive hostile, aggressive and hateful messages from Baldwin’s followers, the lawsuit said.

One message said “Get raped and die, you worthless [expletive]. Your brother got what he deserved.” Roice forwarded this message on to Baldwin, sarcastically thanking him for the post.

Baldwin ultimately followed the person who sent the message on Instagram. He also chimed in on the feed, calling Roice an insurrectionist and claiming she participated in the riot.

He also misidentified Jiennah as an insurrectionist in one Instagram comment, although she was not in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. People began sending hateful and threatening messages Jiennah and Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s eldest sister.

Other messages called on Baldwin to get a refund of his money and comparing the McCollum family to ISIS and Nazis,

Baldwin did nothing to stop his followers from contacting the family, the lawsuit said.

“Baldwin’s conduct was negligent and reckless as he should have known that making the allegations he did against Plaintiffs to his millions of followers would cause Plaintiffs harm,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims the three women have suffered from headaches, nausea, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, mental distress and fear for their lives due to Baldwin’s post.

The lawsuit seeks damages for all three women on allegations of defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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