Sarah Jones' Lawsuit Against The Dirty: Will Her Winning Judgment Be Upheld?

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The fate of former NFL cheerleader Sarah Jones' federal defamation lawsuit against celebrity gossip website The Dirty remains up in the air, according to reports.

Sarah Jones won the suit and a $338,000 judgment last summer.

The verdict was so unprecedented, however, that it prompted some of the country's largest companies to file briefs asking the appellate court to reverse the decision.

Now, it looks destined to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Sarah Jones Bengals Photo
  • Sarah Jones Cheerleader Photo

In 2012, high school teacher Jones pleaded guilty to criminal charges and admitted that she had sex with a 17-year-old student she taught at Dixie Heights H.S.

She later became engaged to the student.

Like a lot of websites, TheDirty (dot) com allows commenters to leave posts, some of which could be considered offensive. Or in this case, defamatory.

Jones, for one, said she was offended by two that said she'd had sex with every Bengals player on the team and likely had gonorrhea and chlamydia.

The teacher, who also cheered for the NFL franchise on weekends, filed a defamation lawsuit against the site owned by Shayne Lamas' husband Nik Richie.

Jones sued and won, as U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman ruled the site wasn't shielded from liability by the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Bertelsman ruled that because Richie comments on people's posts and invites people to post "dirt," he's responsible for the content posted by others.

Brianne Altice
Brianne Altice, an English teacher at a reputable Utah high school, was arrested for having sex with at least one of her students.

For example, in a post claiming that Jones had diseases, Richie allegedly wrote, "Why are high school teachers freaks in the sack?" and signed his first name.

Lawyers representing both Jones and TheDirty (dot) com will present their cases before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati this month.

Legal experts say that if the verdict against the celebrity gossip site isn't overturned at the appellate level, the case could land in the nation's highest court.

"The decision at the trial court level was counter to all the others that came before it," said Lawrence Walters, a First Amendment lawyer in Orlando, Fla.

"It's inconsistent with virtually all of the other trial court and appellate court decisions in the nation. It's one that people in my circles have been talking about."

The verdict has tech companies including Google, eBay, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft worried about the demise of free expression and commerce online.

Jones' lawyer, Chris Roach, disagrees, noting that Richie reviews all posts that are submitted to him and often leaves comments alongside them.

Continue reading for more analysis of her case against The Dirty ...

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she hopes to start 'Sport Illustrated' some day?

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