LOS ANGELES -- A bodyguard wants a judge to dismiss a defamation suit alleging that he and an actress spread malicious rumors about the sexuality and business affairs of Howard K. Stern, longtime confidante and personal attorney to the late Anna Nicole Smith.
In his court papers, Mark Speer, who previously worked as a bodyguard to the father of Smith's daughter, calls Stern a "vortex public figure ... who was intricately involved in the life, times and death of the late Anna Nicole Smith."
He maintains the lawsuit violates his right to free speech and should therefore be thrown out. Speer also argues in papers filed Monday that even if the alleged statements attributed to him are true, Stern is a public figure who must prove they were made with reckless disregard for the truth.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled Dec. 5 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel.
In his lawsuit, filed Sept. 2, Stern claims Speer and actress Jackie Hatten concocted lies and fed them to former MSNBC broadcaster Rita Cosby for a 2007 tell-all book, "Blonde Ambition." Hatten is the sister of Smith's former boyfriend, Mark Hatten.
Cosby is already being sued for publishing allegations that Stern and photographer Larry Birkhead, father of Smith's daughter Dannielynn, were gay lovers, which both men have denied.
Stern also claims Speer defamed him by telling Cosby he was stealing money from Smith. Stern is suing Hatten and Speer for unspecified damages.
Top news of the day
Stern's lawyer, David N. Tarlow, scoffed at Speers' motion.
"The lawsuit speaks for itself," Tarlow said. "My client says the stuff in (the book) is untrue."
In a sworn declaration filed in support of his motion, Speer states that he is a retired sheriff's deputy who was asked by former Birkhead attorney Debra Opri to meet with her client in October 2006 "because of security concerns." He states that Birkhead, who at the time was involved in a battle with Stern over who fathered Smith's daughter, believed his rival had moved to the Bahamas to "escape the paternity suit."
Speer says he went to the Bahamas with Birkhead in January 2007 for 10 days, during which time the latter tried to contact Smith and Stern. Speer further states he visited the gravesite of Smith's son, Daniel, who died four months earlier while visiting his mother in the Bahamas.
"I ... accompanied Mr. Birkhead to a police station in Nassau in the Bahamas," Speer states. "I understood that Mr. Birkhead wanted to give the Bahamas police information about ... Stern, including what he said he had been told by Ms. Smith. I witnessed Mr. Birkhead make statements to the police ... the gist of some of which are recounted in author Rita Cosby's book."
Speer further says he also accompanied Birkhead to a series of court hearings after Smith died of an accidental drug overdose on Feb. 8, 2007, then returned with him to the Bahamas that same month to attend her funeral.
"I traveled with Mr. Birkhead to a meeting at the house where Ms. Smith had lived with Mr. Stern and Dannielynn, where Mr. Birkhead saw Dannielynn for the first time," Speer states.
Cosby was "around during the days after Ms. Smith's death," including the Florida court hearing concerning the disposition of the former Playboy Playmate's remains and at her funeral, according to Speer.
"I spoke to Ms. Cosby on several occasions several months before the publication of 'Blonde Ambition,' but I did not know she was writing a book until just two weeks before it was released," he said. "The statements that I did make to Ms. Cosby and which found their way into the book were made several months before the book was published ... and well over a year before the complaint against me was filed."
Birkhead ultimately won the paternity fight with Stern when a DNA test showed he was Dannielynn's father.