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Oscar-nominated actor James Woods says he doesn't use cocaine — so he's suing an anonymous Twitter troll for $10 million for making that "outrageous" allegation.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles, the 68-year-old star of films such as "Casino" and "Videodrome" says he wants the unnamed Twitter user — referred to as "AL" — to pay damages for a tweet that said "cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting."
Woods is suing for defamation and invasion of privacy by false light for the message that was broadcast to "thousands of AL's followers and hundreds of thousands of Mr. Woods followers," according to the suit.
AL's actual identity is not known — and the related account, @abelisted (Abe Listed), has been deleted.
According to The Washington Post, the interaction began when Woods, an outspoken political conservative, tweeted on July 15 about Caitlyn Jenner and Planned Parenthood.
From there, AL went on a "childish name-calling" tear, Woods' lawsuit says, that "clearly escalated beyond the protections of free speech." Among the words used against him were "scum" and "clown-boy" — as well as the claim that the "Once Upon a Time in America" star uses cocaine.
But because Woods is a public figure, he will have to prove the anonymous user intended actual malice — meaning that he or she knew the cocaine allegation was false and recklessly disregarded the facts to publish it anyway, said Matthew DeOreo, a defamation attorney with the Law Offices of Tacopina & Seigel.
Lawyers for Woods would also have the extra work of getting Twitter to hand over the identity behind the account. If the case makes it to trial, Woods would also need to show his reputation was so damaged that he was financially harmed.
The time and money spent on such a lawsuit usually is too much of a hassle for most celebs, DeOreo said.
But sometimes, "they have reputations to protect, and at the end of the day, whether or not they're going to win doesn't matter," he added. "They just want to make a public declaration that it's a false statement."