End of ADS-L Digest - 9 May 1998 to 10 May 1998
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ADS-L Digest - 8 May 1998 to 9 May 1998 98-05-10 00:00:13
There are 4 messages totalling 245 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
1. "Rich Bitch" (2)
2. Mother's Day (1890? 1908?)
3. St Louis Blues
Date: Sat, 9 May 1998 00:36:23 EDT
Subject: "Rich Bitch"
I was watching 20/20 just now. A woman commented that her doctor was "a
son of a -----." ABC deleted the last word.
Oh, usage! For another view, see today's New York Post, 8 May 1998, pg.
3, cols. 4-5:
_'BITCH' ALL YOU WANT_
By LAURA ITALIANO
It may be vulgar, and it may be "name-calling."
But calling a wealthy socialite a "rich bitch" isn't slander, a judge
ruled in a court fight pitting a millionaire football heiress against the
Catholic non-profit organization that fired her.
In a decision published yesterday that appears to be the first of its
kind for New York state, a Supreme Court judge in Manhattan held that calling
someone a "bitch" isn't defamatory.
That was bad news for Gay Culverhouse, 50, a Manhattan businesswoman and
socialite who is the former president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers--the NFL
team her family owned until 1994.
Culverhouse--whose father, Hugh, left a $360 million estate when he died
four years ago--claimed that the president of the Manhattan-based Cooke Center
called her a "rich bitch" in front of co-workers when Culverhouse worked there
last year as executive director.
Although the Cooke Center--a small not-for-profit that helps special-ed
kids--denies its president ever made the remark, Culverhouse sought $50,000 in
Ignoring the issue of whether the name-calling ever happened, Justice
Herman Cahn ruled that the word is simply too "imprecise" to be truly harmful.
He threw the defamation charge out of court.
"For nearly 100 years, courts that have addressed the issue of whether
the term 'bitch' is actionable are in nearly universal agreement that it is
not," Cahn wrote in his decision.
The judge quotes decisions from five other states, in which the word was
deemed too tame to defame.
Bitch is "too imprecise and open to speculation to be actionable," a
Massachusetts judge wrote in 1995.
Bitch "imputes neither lack of chastity nor adultery," a Pennsylvania
judge wrote in 1939.
The word is "vulgar," but mere "name-calling," a New Jersey judge wrote
Complicating matters, one can't objectively prove whether someone is or
is not a bitch, the same New Jersey judge wrote.
The Manhattan judge said he relied on all of these arguments in making
Culverhouse, who had claimed in her suit that the "bitch" remark implied
"that her personal wealth made her unsuitable to act as executive director in
the best interests of a not-for-profit corporation," could not be reached for
A spokeswoman for the Cooke Center--which was named for Terence Cardinal
Cooke and is funded in large part by the Archdiocese of New York--said the
agency was "very happy" about the decision.
But the battle with Culverhouse is not over. She still claims the agency
broke an oral contract when it fired her last fall from her $90,000-a-year
executive directorship there.
She's seeking $67,000 in unpaid salary.
Culverhouse argues that the agency's president, Karen Robards, tried to
"ingratiate" herself into Culverhouse's world of "society figures or public
When Culverhouse "rebuffed" her, Robards called her a "rich bitch" in
front of co-workers and launched the "vendetta" that led to her firing, the
Culverhouse's recent work and financial histories have been marred by
She and her 23-year-old daughter were victims of a foiled $1 million
kidnapping plot in Tampa in 1995--an experience that "literally scared me out
of town," she once told a Florida newspaper.
Culverhouse, her mother, and other family members have repeatedly feuded
over money with trustees of her father's estate.
I haven't checked in on Lexis/Nexis, but I think "rich bitch" was
popularized by Joan Collins (Alexis Carrington) on DYNASTY.