A Santa Monica Superior Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against the Santa Monica Daily Press by a man who took offense to an article that ran in the paper in early August.

Phil Sparks did not appear in court nor did he file an answer to the Daily Press’ motion to dismiss the case on grounds that the article published was protected by the First Amendment.

He was ordered to pay the Daily Press $3,495 in attorney fees.

Sparks sued for $20 million in October, claiming an article by the Associated Press regarding singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow being granted a restraining order against him for harassment caused him mental anguish and ruined his reputation.

At the time of that court case Sparks listed his address as OPCC, a homeless services provider in Santa Monica.

Judge H. Chester Horn wrote in his judgment that even if Sparks had attended the hearing Horn would have most likely thrown out the case since the article, while not hard news but celebrity driven, is still protected by the free speech clause.

“I’m pleased at the expected dismissal of this case, as well as the awarding of legal and court fees that Mr. Sparks now owes the Daily Press,” said Ross Furukawa, publisher of the Daily Press. “This lawsuit was unsubstantiated from the beginning.”

Sparks has filed a second civil suit against the Daily Press over the same wire story for $40 million. Furukawa is confident it too will be dismissed.

Sparks has outstanding lawsuits over the same story with the Associated Press and celebrity news agency TMZ.

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