Does Piven Want A Lawsuit?

It would appear that actor Jeremy Piven has fallen prey to one of the deadliest of Hollywood sins-believing his own press.

Last night Piven sat across from David Letterman and did his, now tired, song and dance about how he ended up with mercury poisoning from eating seafood-despite what the science says.

If we start from ground truth science and not what Piven or some contract-law arbitrator tells us, we find that Piven simply did not have mercury poising. There are no cases of people being diagnosed with mercury toxicity from the normal consumption of seafood.

Was he sick? Did he feel ill for one reason or another? Sure, I’ll bet he did, but did a fish diet knock him off Broadway? No.

Fish is an inherently healthful product and absurd suggestions like the following exchange with Letterman begs a question…

  • Letterman, “So it was the consumption of a fish diet for 20 years that raised the mercury and that caused the Epstein Barr [virus] and that caused the arrhythmia?”
  • Piven, “Well, they are all contributing factors…”

…does Piven want a defamation lawsuit filed against him?

Eating fish did not give him Epstein Barr and the suggestion that it gave him heart problems is absurd. Perhaps his doctors, or better yet his lawyers, didn’t read the 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that reported on evidence that fish and its omega-3 fatty acids should be considered more than just a healthy part of a diet, but among the most important treatments for coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. And then there’s the draft FDA report released earlier this year that concluded that fish consumption helps prevent 50,000 cases of heart attack and stroke per year in the U.S. alone.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I do know this; there are some basic legal requirements for establishing a claim of defamation. For starters the statements have to falsely impugn a product’s reputation. To prove actual malice you need to prove a defendant made statements with reckless disregard for whether they were false or not.

Likewise, courts have ruled that a defendant would be protected only if he were merely expressing an opinion. The distortion of facts in this case goes far beyond opinion. And finally there’s a little thing called the doctrine of “substantial truth.” This doctrine holds that a statement that is “substantially” true is not defamatory, even if it is not completely true-Piven’s continued insistence that he had “mercury poisoning” caused by the normal consumption of seafood is not “substantially,” “historically, or “medically” true.