DALLAS – The heated divorce of Deion and Pilar Sanders made headlines in 2013, as accusations of cheating and child abuse surfaced in the media.
On Aug. 29, the Fifth Court of Appeals wiped a $2.2 million defamation verdict the former NFL star scored against his ex wife, who now goes by Pilar Love El Dey.
On appeal, Pilar argued a trial court erred by granting Deion’s motion for summary judgment on her liability for defamation.
Justices agreed, finding the lower court erred by granting the motion for summary judgment because Deion failed to establish conclusively Pilar’s negligence or malice regarding the truthfulness of her statements.
In his defamation lawsuit, Deion alleged that after the divorce Pilar made statements on social media, in online videos, and on a national television news program that he had physically abused her and their children and had attempted to murder her.
The NFL Hall of Famer alleged the statements damaged his reputation and caused him economic damages.
At the conclusion of a trial in 2015, he was awarded $2.2 million and the court ruled he could use the award to offset the $1 million he owed Pilar from their divorce.
Justices found Deion failed to prove conclusively Pilar acted with either negligence or malice.
“After reviewing the summary judgment evidence, we conclude Deion failed to establish conclusively that Pilar acted with negligence or malice regarding the truthfulness of the statements,” the opinion states. “Because Deion failed to prove conclusively one of the elements of defamation, the trial court erred by granting his motion for summary judgment.
“We reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the cause to the trial court for further proceedings.”
Deion is represented by attorneys Larry R. Boyd, Charles J. Crawford, John T. Wilson IV and David E. Keltner.
Pilar is represented by attorneys Craig Jackson and Jeremy Hayes.
Appeal case No. 05-16-00248-CV