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Exclusive: Katie Holmes to Sue American Media for $50 Million

By Sharon Waxman
3/1/11 at 8:07am EST

Katie Holmes is expected to file a libel lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday seeking $50 million in damages from American Media Inc., owner of Star magazine, TheWrap has learned.

The actress and wife of Tom Cruise is furious that the tabloid ran a cover that she considers deliberately defamatory, suggesting that she used drugs, according to her representative who spoke to TheWrap.

The magazine that gave rise to the lawsuit featured a cover photo (left) of Holmes looking worn and sad, with the coverline: “ADDICTION NIGHTMARE - Katie DRUG SHOCKER! The real reason she can’t leave Tom.”

Inside, the magazine backs off the claim of addiction, citing incidents in which Holmes joins Scientology sessions where an ‘e-meter’ is used. The e-meter, an electrical measuring instrument used in the controversial group’s auditing sessions, allegedly measures electrical resistance and allegedly reflects past emotional experiences.

The article does not allege that Holmes uses drugs. But Holmes’ representative said that the cover clearly suggests that she does.

“The cover is libellous no matter what they say inside the magazine,” said the representative.

The tabloid frequently targets Holmes and Cruise as fodder for the celebrity gossip mill, most often suggesting that their marriage is in trouble, they’re about to separate, and Holmes is miserable.

In the past, Star has lamented Holmes’ “tortured life.” In October, the tabloid said that the couple’s “marriage contract collapses.”

To prove libel is difficult in U.S. courts. The plaintiff must prove defamation occurred, and that injury to their reputation happened as a result.

American Media also publishes the National Enquirer, RadarOnline and several other lifestyle publications, including Men’s Fitness and Shape.

A representative did not respond to an email seeking commen.

The Full Lawsuit: Katie Holmes Sues American Media for $50M for Libel (updated)

Updated at 2:20pm EST and Updated with Lawsuit at 3:13pm EST:

Katie Holmes has sued American Media Inc., owner of the Star tabloid, for libel, and is seeking damages of $50 million, her lawyer has confirmed to TheWrap.

The lawsuit, over a cover suggesting that the actress used drugs, was filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

Star's "vicious lies about plaintiff, designed to hype the sale of its sleazy tabloid magazine, were calculated to cause severe harm," reads the lawsuit, obtained by TheWrap. "The average reader (would) understand that plaintiff has become shockingly addicted to drugs... There is no other way to understand them. The cover even created the false impression that, but for plaintiff's nightmare drug addiction, she would 'leave' her husband."

An attorney for Holmes told TheWrap that while tabloid slurs are common, this one crossed the line. "We see these tabloids every week," said attorney Aaron Miller of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman and Machtinger. "They’ve been attacking her and her husband for years now, and she finally said, 'Enough is enough'. She wants to stand up for her legal rights. This is such an outrageous statement, this idea that this loving mother is on drugs, or suffering an addiction nightmare – there’s not a shred of truth to it."

TheWrap first reported the news of the impending lawsuit on Tuesday morning.

Proving libel is difficult in U.S. courts. The plaintiff must prove defamation occurred, and that injury to their reputation happened as a result. In the case of celebrities, it's even harder; Holmes must prove that the magazine acted with malice, and knew that it was publishing false information.

"Here it's beyond doubt that they knew it was false," said Moss. "There's no support inside the article to substantiate the attention-grabbing headline."