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Blake Shelton's defamation lawsuit against In Touch to proceed, judge says

Blake Shelton performs at the 49th annual CMA

Blake Shelton performs at the 49th annual CMA Awards in Nashville, Tenn. A federal judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, ruled that Shelton's defamation lawsuit against the publisher of In Touch magazine can proceed. Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES - Blake Shelton's defamation lawsuit against In Touch Weekly will proceed after a judge Tuesday rejected a motion to dismiss the case by the tabloid's publisher.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles ruled that the country music star had shown that a headline the tabloid published in September 2015 that declared "Rehab for Blake" could be interpreted by the average reader as meaning the singer was receiving addiction treatment.

Shelton sued Bauer Publishing Co. in November over the headline and an accompanying story that included several anecdotes of the country music star's supposed drunken antics. Shelton, who is a judge on NBC's "The Voice," denies several key events in the story occurred and states he does not have a drinking problem.

Bauer's attorney Elizabeth McNamara did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. She said last week that if Snyder's ruling becomes official, it will be appealed. She argued that the Grammy-nominated singer had created his "entire reputation around excessive drinking."

Snyder rejected that argument in her ruling, saying that Shelton was not in fact "libel proof."

Shelton's attorney Stanton "Larry" Stein attacked McNamara's arguments during a hearing last week and In Touch's story, saying it was "absolutely 100 percent false."

Snyder urged the attorneys at the April 11 hearing to settle the case, saying it would be costly for both sides if it went through an appeal.

The "Boys 'Round Here" singer has also denied the magazine's claims, writing in a sworn declaration submitted to Snyder, "Not only was I not in rehab or headed to rehab when it was published, but I also do not have a drinking problem."

Shelton noted the September 2015 story came at a time when he was working on new music, negotiating endorsement deals and his role hosting Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards was about to be announced.

"I felt that the Rehab Story jeopardized both my personal and professional reputation and that I needed to do everything I could to set the record straight," Shelton wrote.

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