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Mariah Carey's lawyers say memoir does not defame her brother

Mariah Carey's memoir "The Meaning of Mariah Carey"

Mariah Carey's memoir "The Meaning of Mariah Carey" was published in September. Credit: Getty Images / Jamie McCarthy

Mariah Carey's attorneys have responded to her brother Morgan Carey's lawsuit that alleges her recent memoir paints him in a false and defamatory light.

Los Angeles-based fitness trainer Morgan Carey, 60, contends in his March 3 suit filed in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan that "The Meaning of Mariah Carey," released in September, contains "many passages" that "are false and defamatory, personally invasive and painful, and have caused serious damage to his reputation and to his personal and business affairs." The suit specifies no monetary damages but rather any "sums as may be awarded by a jury and the Court," plus legal fees.

In Friday's motion to dismiss, attorneys for the pop star John J. Rosenberg and Matthew H. Giger argue that the suit runs afoul of New York's anti-SLAPP statute, using an acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. SLAPP suits typically are filed not by individuals but "by a corporation against a group or activist," according to the Legal Information Institute, and seek to wear down defendants through time and expense.

The new motion disputes Morgan Carey's characterization of the passages as "mere gossip … of prurient interest," and says the chronicle of "Ms. Carey's rise from a dysfunctional and sometimes violent family environment has significant public value" and that the anti-SLAPP statute should apply.

Among the seven specific passages to which Morgan Carey objects is his Grammy Award-winning sister's depiction of a fight between his teen self and their father that, the book says, "took 12 cops to pull" the two apart. Morgan Carey's suit calls the incident "fictional" and notes that "any simple domestic violence report would almost certainly have been responded to by a single car with only one or two officers."

The new motion responds that because Mariah Carey, 52, was recalling an incident from age 3, this was a "figurative or hyperbolic statement meant to produce in the reader the feeling of witnessing a violent altercation through the eyes of a young girl. Nor would it be defamatory … even if Ms. Carey had overstated the number of police officers that interceded in the altercation with his father."

The motion calls another passage to which her brother objected as being "only opinion and hyperbolic, figurative statements." In another passage, the motion states, "passing references to [Morgan] as 'sometimes drug dealing,' 'been-in-the-system' and '[a drunkard]' are rhetorical flourishes meant to increase the irony of the story."

The motion additionally says state law "requires specific allegations itemizing economic losses" caused by any defamatory statements, and that Morgan Carey's suit "does not identify any particular economic losses" due to the book.

Morgan Carey's attorney, Richard Altman, told Newsday: "I don't have a comment for you. I will be filing opposition papers. You'll know my argument when I file the papers."

In addition to Mariah Carey, the lawsuit names the book's co-writer, Michaela Angela Davis, as well as Macmillan Publishing Group and its imprint, Andy Cohen Books.

The siblings' sister, Alison Carey, 59, filed a suit on Feb. 1 alleging emotional distress over claims in the memoir.

Five-time Grammy-winner Mariah Carey, one of music's biggest-selling global stars, was born in Huntington and raised there and in Melville, Northport and Greenlawn. She graduated from Harborfields High School in 1987.

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