Supreme Court Justices Cite Taylor Swift’s Assault and Battery Case During Oral Arguments on Nominal Damages

2 min

On January 12, 2021, three Supreme Court justices cited Taylor Swift’s countersuit against former radio disc jockey David Mueller during oral arguments about whether two Georgia students could sue their college for nominal damages. Justice Elena Kagan stated that the most famous nominal damages case she knew of in recent times was the Taylor Swift sexual assault case. Venable represented Swift in this case.

“I’m not really interested in your money,” Justice Kagan said, describing Ms. Swift’s thinking. “I just want a dollar, and that dollar is going to represent something both to me and to the world of women who have experienced what I’ve experienced.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett followed up with her own thoughts about Ms. Swift’s case. “What Taylor Swift wanted was, you know, vindication of the moral right, the legal right, that sexual assault is reprehensible and wrong,” Justice Barrett said. And Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said the court should be wary of penalizing plaintiffs who act on principle, including “those like Ms. Swift who have some scruple or reason not to seek more, who could.”

According to the New York Times, which covered the argument, it seemed that the singer’s stance would help that of the students in the case before the justices, Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, No. 19-968.

In 2017, Doug Baldridge, along with Danielle Foley and Katherine Wright Morrone, achieved a 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, which she won.

The Supreme Court’s nod to Ms. Swift’s case was covered by the New York Times, the Washington PostBloomberg Law, and Billboard, among other news outlets.