In a case that has garnered worldwide media attention, Venable lawyers J. Douglas Baldridge, Danielle Foley, and Katherine Wright achieved complete victory for singer Taylor Swift, her mother Andrea Swift, and a member of her management team, Frank Bell, in a civil lawsuit over an incident that occurred at a 2013 promotional event that involved Ms. Swift and then radio disc jockey David Mueller. Mr. Baldridge served as first chair during the six-day trial, providing both the opening and closing arguments. Ms. Swift alleged that, during a photo opportunity with Mr. Mueller, he grabbed her bare buttocks under her skirt. Ms. Swift reported the incident to her team, who then contacted the radio station that employed Mr. Mueller and reported the incident. The radio station fired Mr. Mueller two days later, following their own investigation.
Two years later, in 2015, Mr. Mueller filed a civil suit against Ms. Swift, accusing her of tortious interference with his $150,000/year contract as a local morning radio DJ by pressuring his employer, KYGO radio, to fire him. Ms. Swift countersued, claiming assault and battery, and asked for a symbolic $1 in damages.
During the trial, Ms. Swift gave strong and effective testimony about the alleged incident and her role in the termination of Mr. Mueller from the radio station KYGO. When asked by plaintiff’s counsel whether she felt responsibility for Mr. Mueller’s firing, she responded, “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is in any way my fault, because it isn't.”
Before the trial went to the jury, the judge granted the defense’s motion to release Ms. Swift from the allegations against her, agreeing that the prosecution presented no evidence that her allegations of sexual assault had cost Mr. Mueller his job.
The case against Ms. Swift’s mother and the radio promotions director was allowed to continue and be determined by the jury. During closing arguments, Mr. Baldridge noted that the symbolic $1 that Ms. Swift was asking for in her countersuit “tells every woman they will determine what will happen to their body” and “the value of which is immeasurable to every woman in this situation.”
After deliberating for less than four hours, the jury found Mr. Mueller guilty of assault and battery and ordered him to pay Ms. Swift the symbolic $1 she was seeking. They also found that her mother Andrea Swift and radio liaison Frank Bell were not responsible for the firing of Mr. Mueller.
In statement released after the verdict, Ms. Swift said, “I want to thank Judge William J. Martinez and the jury for their careful consideration, my attorneys Doug Baldridge, Danielle Foley, Jay Schaudies, and Katie Wright for fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault, and especially anyone who offered their support throughout this four-year ordeal and two-year-long trial process.”