Beloved R&B crooner Frank Ocean just beat a $14.5 million libel suit that his estranged father, Calvin Cooksey, had filed against him earlier this year. On Tuesday, California federal judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that Cooksey could not prove that Ocean had defamed him.
The evidence was a 2016 Tumblr post from Ocean that immediately followed Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting. “I was six years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a f****t as he dragged me out of a neighborhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty,” Ocean wrote in the post. “That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn’t shock me if it wasn’t.”
Though Cooksey claimed the post cost him “future financial opportunities in the film and music industries,” the trial, which saw Ocean, his mother Katonya Breaux and Cooksey take the stand, ultimately determined that Cooksey hadn’t provided sufficient evidence of the defamation.
The judge reasoned that the post did not call out Cooksey by name, nor did Cooksey, who represented himself at the trial, produce anyone who saw the post and believed it was about him. Any claim for damages were therefore “speculative,” the judge said.
Cooksey filed his suit in February 2017, claiming that he tried to get Ocean to remove the post without any success. The former also argued in his complaint that the Tumblr post put him “in the middle of a terrorist attack on the gay community.”
According to a trial brief, Ocean argued not only that his post is substantially true, but also that Cooksey’s suit does not sufficiently provide a category of libel under which the post allegedly falls, nor does it show how Cooksey has been professionally injured.
Ocean’s attorney, Keith Bremer, confirmed the ruling to Pitchfork on Wednesday. “It was a super sad case,” Bremer told Pitchfork in a statement. “I am sorry that my client had to go through this and am glad that we could bring closure.”
Photo Credit: Marisa Rose Ficara