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Judge Lets JonBenet Ramsey's Brother's Lawsuit Proceed

Judge Lets JonBenet Ramsey's Brother's Lawsuit Proceed Promo Image

A judge has declined to dismiss a lawsuit by JonBenet Ramsey's brother, Burke Ramsey, against CBS.

On Dec. 26, 1996, the 6-year-old JonBenet was found dead at her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. Burke was 9 years old at the time.

In the $750 million lawsuit, filed in December 2016, Burke, 30, alleged that CBS ruined his reputation after TV special "The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey" implied that Burke killed his sister, according to The Associated Press.

Burke Ramsey's lawsuit seeks at least $500 million in punitive damages and $250 million in compensatory damages, reported CNN.

"The gist of 'The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey' is false and defamatory per se," said Burke Ramsey's lawsuit, according to The Daily Camera. "Burke Ramsey did not kill his sister and had no involvement in her brutal murder."

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CBS Corporation, Critical Content, and seven experts and consultants who worked with the series were named in the suit.

CBS and other defendants had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that it was never stated in the series that Burke Ramsey had killed his sister. The motion also noted that a disclaimer had been aired along with the program.

"The opinions and conclusions of the investigators who appear on this program about how it may have occurred represent just some of a number of possible scenarios," the disclaimer said.

At the time the suit was filed, a lawyer for Burke Ramsey said that authorities had "repeatedly, publicly, and unequivocally" cleared JonBenet Ramsey's brother of involvement in her death, alleging that "CBS perpetrated a fraud upon the public."

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John and Patsy Ramsey were also cleared of wrongdoing by a prosecutor in 2008, according to Fox.

Michigan 3rd Circuit Court District Judge David Groner ruled that "the statements at issue and the docu-series as a whole could reasonably be understood as stating actual facts" relating to the case and Burke Ramsey. According to Groner, the disclaimer did not negate the potentially defamatory content of the documentary.

Groner also denied a motion to dismiss another lawsuit, for $150 million, filed by Burke Ramsey against pathologist Werner Spitz, who participated in the documentary.

CBS argued that the only statement in the documentary that could have been considered defamatory was when James Kolar, an investigator in the JonBenet Ramsey case, "hypothesized in response to a question that Burke 'out of anger... may have struck [JonBenet] with [a] flashlight,'" according to a filing written by the judge.

"This very preliminary procedural ruling was issued prior to any evidence being presented. It is based solely on the plaintiff's complaint. Should the case move forward, we look forward to defending it on its merits," CBS said in a statement.

Sources: AP, Daily Camera, CNN, Fox / Featured Image: Jennifer Boyer/Flickr / Embedded Images: Twitter via In Touch, WP Paarz/Flickr

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