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Michael Kassan’s defamation lawsuit against UTA’s attorney dismissed by court

A judge on Tuesday dismissed a defamation lawsuit that former United Talent Agency partner Michael Kassan had filed against the Beverly Hills-based agency’s legal counsel.

Kassan sued UTA’s attorney Bryan Freedman in March over comments Freedman made in news outlet Deadline, in which he was quoted calling Kassan a “pathological liar.”

The remarks were made in context of a legal battle between Kassan and his former employer, UTA, who are in a dispute over whether he is allowed to compete with MediaLink, Kassan’s media and market advisory company that was sold to the talent agency in 2021 for $125 million.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy said in his ruling that Freedman’s statement was made in the context of a heated dispute “wherein the participants were expected to use epithets and hyperbole which an average reader would not take as fact.”

“In sum, no reasonable trier of fact could interpret Freedman’s statement about Kassan as anything other than a nonactionable statement of opinion,” Murphy said. “Therefore, Kassan’s defamation claims fail as a matter of law and have no probability of success.”

UTA declined to comment on the defamation lawsuit.

“Freedman’s defense was that everyone knows he is bluster and is not truthful therefore proving our point,” said Kassan attorney, Sanford Michelman.

Freedman said in a statement that Kassan’s lawsuit “was so transparently frivolous” that it took only 55 days for the court to dismiss it.

Freedman said he looks forward to recovering attorneys fees and costs and is considering filing a malicious prosecution action against Kassan and his lawyer.

UTA and Kassan have sued each other, with each leveling accusations of breach of contract. UTA said that Kassan’s spending was out of control, “wasting millions of UTA’s dollars on his lavish personal lifestyle,” which led to his termination.

Kassan, for his part, said that UTA was well aware of his spending habits and that his firm has continued to be profitable during its tenure within UTA. He alleges that UTA did not follow the terms of their deal, including a promise that UTA‘s marketing group would report to him. Kassan said he quit the agency.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the lawsuit UTA filed would move to arbitration.

Staff writer Meg James and News researcher Scott Wilson contributed to this report.

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