Studio owner suing Phoebe Bridgers for defamation fails in prior lawsuit against actress Noël Wells

A Los Angeles County judge said Wells was protected under free speech rights when she warned the band Big Thief against working with producer and studio owner Chris Nelson

A music producer and studio owner who is suing Phoebe Bridgers for defamation has lost an earlier, separate defamation complaint against singer-songwriter and actress Noël Wells.

In September 2021, Chris Nelson, a producer and the owner of Sound Space Studios – who is not credited as having worked professionally with Bridgers – claimed that Bridgers had falsely accused him of abusive behaviour in October 2020.

Nelson is seeking $3.8million (£2.8million) in damages from the singer-songwriter, alleging that Bridgers “intentionally used her high-profile public platform on Instagram to publish false and defamatory statements” about Nelson “in order to destroy his reputation.”

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Nelson had filed a similar lawsuit against Wells in December 2020, alleging that Wells had made “false” statements about him in correspondence with the band Big Thief and had caused him emotional distress.

In an email sent to Big Thief’s manager, Tom Wironen, Wells claimed that Nelson had made an “incredibly predatory move on [her]” while working with the producer, and that he allegedly exhibited “incredibly predatory behavior… toward young females including young female musicians.”

As Rolling Stone reports, Los Angeles County Judge Gregory W. Alarcon dismissed Nelson’s case against Wells at a court hearing on Wednesday (January 5). He ruled that Wells was protected under free speech rights when she warned Big Thief about Nelson’s allegedly “predatory” behaviour.

“Artistic and literary expression are protected by the First Amendment,” Judge Alarcon wrote in his decision, finding that Wells’ comments were made “in the advancement or assistance of the creation of music.”

NME has reached out to legal representation for both Nelson and Wells, as well as a representative for Bridgers, for comment.

Last month, Nelson amended his defamation lawsuit against Bridgers to include hundreds of text messages the pair allegedly exchanged between 2016 and 2020 which he says “prove that everything Phoebe said about me was false.”

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The lawsuit against Bridgers claimed Nelson and his then-girlfriend Emily Bannon “began having consensual sexual encounters” with Bridgers in 2018. According to Nelson, he and Bannon broke up in the fall of 2019, but Bridgers and Bannon continued their relationship.

According to the suit, Nelson is accusing Bridgers of joining in with Bannon’s “revenge plot” against him, because she allegedly shared Bannon’s Instagram story outlining allegations of abusive behaviour against Nelson.

Bridgers also allegedly claimed she had “witnessed and can personally verify much of the abuse (grooming, stealing, violence)” allegedly perpetrated by Nelson. The producer filed a similar lawsuit against Bannon in December last year, also accusing her of defamation.

Bridgers has yet to publicly comment on the lawsuit.

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