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Kathy Griffin Tells Judge She Didn’t Dox CEO Who Was Fired After Video Of Him Arguing With LGBTQ+ Teenagers Went Viral

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Aug. 19 2022, Published 1:45 p.m. ET

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Kathy Griffin has gone to court to battle a businessman who was fired after the comedian posted a video of him arguing with LGBTQ+ teenagers, Radar has learned.

According to court documents obtained by RadarOnline.com, the comedian and her legal team have asked for the lawsuit brought by a Tennessee couple, Sam and Jill Johnson, to be thrown out of court.

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In April 2021, a 59-second video of Johnson was posted online. In the clip, the businessman is seen standing next to an 18-year-old teenage boy named Dalton Stevens who wore a dress to his prom and appeared to be bothering him.

“I chose what I want to wear, so you can f--- off,” the teen told Johnson. The businessman then said, “you look like an idiot

At one point, he appeared to try and swat Stevens’ boyfriend who was filming the encounter with his phone.

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Griffin retweet the video with the message, “If this is Sam Johnson in Nashville, Tennessee, the CEO of @VisuWell , healthcare-tech-growth strategist, married to Jill Johnson where they may reside in Franklin, Tennessee, it seems like he’s dying to be online famous.”

Johnson said Griffin’s tweet led to VisuWell firing him as CEO and removing him from the board. Days after the comedian fired off the message, the company released a statement distancing itself saying it, “unequivocally condemns the behavior exhibited by Sam Johnson.”

In the lawsuit, Johnson’s lawyer wrote, “Ms. Griffin is a malign internet provocateur and is notorious for her disturbing posts on various social media platforms, especially Twitter. Her preferred method of online harassment is to “dox” private citizens.”

The businessman said the video was “incomplete, edited, and out-of-context.” His lawyer wrote, “The Video Clip only showed one minute of an incident that had been developing for over one hour. The implication created by the Video Clip—that Mr. Johnson instigated a confrontation to bully two LGBTQIA+ teenagers at a hotel—was deeply misleading.”

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Johnson accused the teenagers of being loud and disruptive in a local restaurant. He said they were the ones who verbally attacked him not the other way around.

Johnson’s wife joined the lawsuit claiming she received death threats as a result. The suit seeks unspecified “substantial” damages.

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In her response, Griffin said, “This case tests a core feature of our democracy: the ability to participate in debate on a public issue without fear of punishment.”

She said the case arises out of a “widely publicized incident in which [Samuel Johnson], a local health care executive berated a gay high school student who was taking prom pictures at the Harpeth Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee, early on a Saturday evening.”

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Griffin said Johnson attempts to stifle protected speech with this lawsuit but argues the first amendment protects her.

The comedian said she never spoke, addressed or communicated with Johnson in any way.

Her lawyer said “Rather, she simply stated her personal views on a matter of public concern in a public forum. The fact that Ms. Griffin added her voice to public discourse on social media — Mr. Johnson’s behavior as captured on a Video Clip of the incident being the subject of intensive news coverage — cannot be labeled as “doxing,” “harassment,” or “stalking.”

Griffin said the entire lawsuit should be tossed immediately.

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