Judge allows lawsuit to proceed against Dr. Phil
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2008 10:12AM EST
LOS ANGELES - A California judge refused to dismiss a defamation suit Tuesday against CBS and television psychologist "Dr. Phil" McGraw brought by two brothers who were questioned in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
William Cremer, lawyer for Surinamese brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, praised the decision by Superior Court Judge Edward Ferns. "I'm going to take Dr. Phil down," he said outside the courtroom.
The ruling came a day after ABC's "20/20" aired a secretly recorded conversation involving Joran van der Sloot, who also has been interrogated by Aruban authorities on Holloway's May 2005 disappearance. In the tape, van der Sloot claims Holloway died on the beach while they were kissing and he tried to revive her but failed. He said the teen's body was dumped in the ocean and would never be found.
Joseph Tacopina, a lawyer for van der Sloot, said his client was not responsible for the Alabama teenager's death and the tapes do not amount to a confession. Last week, van der Sloot said he was lying in those conversations and denied he had anything to do with Holloway's disappearance.
The Kalpoes, who have maintained they had nothing to do with Holloway's disappearance, sued in December 2006, claiming the "Dr. Phil" talk show altered portions of a taped conversation between Deepak Kalpoe and a private investigator to "create false, incriminating, and defamatory statements that the plaintiffs engaged in criminal activity against Natalee Holloway."
The brothers also contend the TV show implied they helped kill Holloway and disposed of her body. Their suit claims defamation, invasion of privacy, emotional distress, fraud, deceit and civil conspiracy.
Cremer said the taped remarks by van der Sloot, which were secretly recorded by a Dutch crime reporter, help his clients' defamation case.
"It pretty much exonerates my boys, doesn't it?" Cremer said.
In their dismissal motion, lawyers for CBS Television and McGraw maintained lawyers for the Kalpoes did not meet deadlines to produce all documents they have demanded concerning the criminal case investigation against the brothers in Aruba.
But the judge gave the Kalpoes' lawyers another five days to satisfy the document deadline.
"The documents are relevant to the most fundamental issues in this case," Ferns stated in his ruling.
"There is no other (information) which can substitute for the documents sought by the defendants due to the nature of this case."
In June, another judge dismissed a wrongful-death case against the Kalpoes by Holloway's parents, ruling the Los Angeles Superior Court did not have jurisdiction. The parents maintained the brothers conceded jurisdiction when they sued CBS and McGraw in Los Angeles.