In light of the Luke Bryan incident last night at the Charlie Daniels 80th Birthday Volunteer Jam, I decided to contact a lawyer for a quick Q&A regarding the legal ramifications of Luke striking a concertgoer.
In full disclosure, the lawyer, Kevin Baltz, Esq., is my old college roommate who is a partner at a law firm in Nashville . . . and he has a pretty good sense of humor. In no way, shape or form should this be considered actual legal advice. This is satire, people—just two old friends shooting the breeze to pass the time.
Nash Country Daily: Kevin, thanks for coming in. First of all, you’re doing this interview for free. But how much do you normally charge per hour for your legal expertise?
Kevin: More than you can afford.
NCD: Good to know. I called you about an hour ago and I said, “Do you know who Luke Bryan is?” And what did you say?
Kevin: The guy who slapped someone last night?
NCD: So you know of Luke, but you don’t really know much about him or follow his music.
Kevin: That’s fair to say.
NCD: After watching the video, what’s your initial reaction as a man of the law?
Kevin: To quote Billy Madison [Adam Sandler]: “That’s assault brother.”
NCD: Luke slaps the guy in the face for flipping him off. Any law against flipping off someone like I’m doing to you right now?
Kevin: On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was adopted, which included the First Amendment to the Constitution. It grants everyone—from Luke’s meatheaded harasser to you, a hack writer—the right to free speech. It does not, however, grant someone the right to avoid a beating, as Luke aptly demonstrates.
NCD: Could the guy sue Luke for pain and suffering? Not for the strike, but because of his music?
Kevin: You find me a jury of 12 reasonable people that don’t LOVE Luke Bryan’s sweet tunes. No one is taking that case.
NCD: Another guy in the crowd was holding a sign that read “We can see your camel toe.” Is that actionable?
Kevin: This is where things get tricky. Luke could potentially sue this gentleman for defamation—the legal claim arising from a person making a false statement which damages another person’s reputation. Here is the catch: in a defamation action, the truth is always a defense. Meaning, if what you said about someone is true, you cannot be held liable for saying it. A very brief Google image search indicates to me that Luke is better off leaving this one alone.
NCD: Any chance this can be considered a hate crime? The guy obviously hates Luke’s music.
Kevin: Interesting theory here. Hate crimes are generally limited to specific social groups, such as gender, ethnicity, nationality, disability, religion and sexual orientation. To date, neither the Supreme Court of the United States nor any lower courts of record have recognized “Bro-Country” as a protected class. Although every single one of us may view this action as “deplorable,” it is unlikely that Luke would succeed on this theory.
NCD: Thanks for stopping by, you’ve been a wealth of information.
— kels (@_kelseymeador) December 1, 2016