Rhyming judge throws out suit against Eminem. Man whom Slim had identified as his childhood tormentor in song had sued for defamation

By Gary Susman
October 20, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Eminem: Paul Sancya/AP

The Detroit area that spawned Eminem is apparently so thick with aspiring rappers that, in a court case targeting the artist occasionally known as Marshall Mathers, both the plaintiff and the judge were would-be hip-hoppers. On Friday, Judge Deborah Servitto threw out a defamation lawsuit filed against Eminem by DeAngelo Bailey, who claimed Slim had defamed him in a song and thereby hurt his own plans to become a rapper. In her ruling, Judge Servitto included a 36-line rap of her own, the Macomb Daily and the Detroit News reported.

Bailey, a sanitation worker from Roseville, Mich., had filed a $1 million suit in 2001 over ”Brain Damage,” the 1999 song from ”The Slim Shady LP” in which Mathers names him as a childhood bully who used to ”shove me into the lockers” every day and ”banged my head against the urinal ’til he broke my nose.” According to the News, Eminem’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss Bailey’s suit on the grounds that the plaintiff was trying to ”cash in on the fame of another.” Besides, his legal team said, the allegations in the song were true and were backed by a lawsuit filed by Eminem’s mom in 1982 against the Roseville school district for failing to protect her son from Bailey. (That suit, which was dismissed on the grounds of governmental immunity, is posted online at The Smoking Gun.

Servitto’s ruling, also posted at The Smoking Gun, stated in part, ”The lyrics are stories no one would take as fact/ They’re an exaggeration of a childish act… Any reasonable person could clearly see/that the lyrics could only be hyperbole… It is therefore this Court’s ultimate position, that Eminem is entitled to summary disposition.”

One critic who didn’t appreciate Servitto’s mad rhyming skills was Bailey’s attorney, Byron Nolen, who said the couplets might aid his client in an appeal. ”I don’t know how the Court of Appeals would look at something like that,” he told the News. ”I’m shocked that a judge would do that.” Maybe Bailey, Eminem, and Servitto should just have it out in an ”8 Mile”-type freestyle rap battle.