WeHo bar sues comedy writer for defamation

Wave Wire Services

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The Abbey bar is suing a comedy writer and actress, alleging she falsely stated on social media that she was drugged by a bartender at the longtime West Hollywood establishment in July despite video security footage to the contrary.

The Abbey’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Aug. 17 against Haely White, alleging defamation, trade libel, breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. It seeks more than $5 million in damages.

The Abbey has had a substantial business loss due to White’s posting, including cancellations and a drop in customers, the suit alleges.

On Aug. 3, White went on social media and said she was “severely drugged by a bartender” at the Abbey on July 29 and encouraged people to “spread the word” and boycott the bar, the suit states.

White also said she “never let her one drink out of her hands.”

However, Abbey video footage accounts for nearly every moment she was at the bar except for 11 minutes in which she and her female companion were in the restroom together, the suit states.

The footage shows that during her time at the Abbey, nothing out of the ordinary was put in her drink…” the suit states. “At no time can any Abbey personnel, or any other person for that matter, be seen tampering with her drink.”

After her posting, the Abbey reviewed video footage and notified White that her statements were incorrect and offered to allow her to review the video of the night, which she eventually accepted, the suit states.

Despite notification from the Abbey of these facts, White defiantly continued to propagate her false claims, resulting in countless republications of her statements,” the suit states.

The Abbey sent White, through her lawyer, a cease-and-desist letter demanding she stop making any further defamatory statements and that she post a corrective statement apologizing for her allegations.

White partially removed some of her statements from social media, but not all of them, prompting the Abbey to follow up several times, according to the suit.

On Aug. 13, the Abbey and White reached a settlement agreement and release of White from liability conditioned on the writer prominently posting a correction statement to her various social media accounts by 4 p.m. Aug. 14, but the correction statement was not posted as prominently as she had promised and she breached the terms by contradicting and retracting her correction statement with another posting, the suit states.

As a result, White was not released under the terms of the agreement and compounded the Abbey’s damages,” the suit alleges.

White tweeted Aug. 15: “Obviously, what happened to me that evening was shocking and painful … however, based on my review of video footage, I now believe that what happened to me that night was not the fault of The Abbey or their staff. … “Having met with The Abbey staff to review video from the night I was there, I believe their actions demonstrate they are truly concerned about the safety of their patrons, and take measures to make their establishment safe,” she continued.

However, less than 24 hours after posting the corrective statement, White posted another statement to Instagram, which read in part:Since earlier publicly posted details lacked key information, it’s important you hear the entirety of what happened. The video footage that I have reviewed does not show the bartender placing anything in my drink. There is an important additional detail — the footage also shows me collapsing off the seat at a booth not long after having my drink. It shows me being assisted out of the bar by a friend. … I was completely coherent in a phone conversation with my husband just 15 minutes before entering the bar, and didn’t get my drink at The Abbey until nearly 30 minutes after arriving, at least a full hour after a drink I had at dinner. I also have NEVER felt so sick in my life with one exception — when I was roofied many years ago. … ”

A representative for White could not be immediately reached for comment.