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Brett Favre v. Shannon Sharpe: Defamation Case Dismissed with Prejudice

On October 30, 2023, United States District Judge Keith Starrett dismissed Brett Favre’s (“Favre”) complaint filed against Shannon Sharpe (“Sharpe”) with prejudice. The dispute arose from statements made by Sharpe on the television broadcast of “Undisputed” regarding Favre’s alleged involvement in a Mississippi welfare fraud scandal. Favre sued Sharpe alleging that certain statements made by Sharpe were defamatory. Favre challenged the following three (3) statements made by Sharpe during the show: 1) “The problem I have with the situation, you’ve got to be a sorry mofo to steal from the lowest of the low;” 2) “Brett Favre is taking from the underserved;” and 3) “[Favre] stole money from people that really needed that money.”

Sharpe sought dismissal of Favre’s complaint on three (3) grounds: 1) Sharpe’s remarks “were nothing more than rhetorical hyperbole and figurative expressions” that are protected speech; 2) the Complaint failed to state a claim, because “Sharpe’s opinions were based on disclosed and publicly reported information and official proceedings;” and 3) Favre failed to comply with Mississippi’s retraction statute. The Court found and concluded that Sharpe’s first argument had merit and, thus, did not reach the other grounds argued for dismissal.

The Court framed the issue as “whether a reasonable factfinder could conclude that the statements Sharpe made on the air would imply an assertion that Favre actually stole money from the poor.” Favre argued that Sharpe’s remarks were not hyperbolic or opinion, but statements regarding provable facts. The Court disagreed and concluded that “no reasonable person listening to the Broadcast would think that Favre actually went into the homes of poor people and took their money-that he committed the crime of theft/larceny against any particular poor person in Mississippi.” The Court also noted that during the television broadcast of “Undisputed” it was expressly indicated that Favre had not been criminally charged. The Court held that “Sharpe’s comments are constitutionally protected rhetorical hyperbole using loose, figurative language, they cannot support a defamation claim as a matter of law.” Accordingly, the Court granted Sharpe’s Motion to Dismiss and dismissed Favre’s Complaint with prejudice.

If you have any questions, contact Christian Dennie at


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