Both sides likely will claim some degree of victory today in the ongoing Dance Moms lawsuits — though how that will play out remains to be seen. It took three months after a hearing on the issue but, as expected, an LA Superior Court judge has thrown out the defamation and emotional distress claims from cast member Kelly Hyland and her daughters against Dance Moms host Abby Lee Miller and series producers Collins Avenue Entertainment. In fact, Judge Ruth Kwan on Friday not only granted the defendants’ motion and tossed the measures in Hyland’s multi-claim February 19 complaint but also similar claims in her daughter Paige’s filing from last month.
While that part of the dramatic Dance Moms lawsuits appears to be dead, Kwan is allowing both complaints to move forward with breach-of-contract claims against Collins Avenue. Paige Hyland’s case has a trial date of April 11, 2016, if it ever gets to that.
The Hylands first filed their $5 million action against Miller and Collins Street this year based on a heated incident from late 2013. The complaint, which also includes an assault claim, came out of the November 22, 2013, clash between Miller and Kelly Hyland over the “bullying and insulting” way the former was treating Paige and Brooke Hyland on the Lifetime series. With the younger Hylands looking on, the two women bellowed at each other with the host lunging forward and Mama Hyland slapping her.
Adding injury to ratings, the incident was shown on the long-running series earlier this year (watch the clip above). Hyland said in her complaint that the producers encouraged Miller’s behavior in a grab for higher numbers.
Turning a public brawl into a war of words, Hyland was even more upset when the reality TV host went on The View to talk about what happened between the two of them. That’s where the now-slashed defamation claim came from. Miller and Collins Aenueve’s lawyers said in the August 14 hearing it was simply free speech. Kelly Hyland also claims she was removed from Dance Moms with a suspension but never got anything in writing and is owed money — aka the breach of contract.
Attorneys Jordan Grotzinger and Robert Freud of LA firm Greenberg Traurig LLP are representing Miller in the case. Keli Sager of the LA offices of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is handling things for Collins. LA’s Michael Shapiro and San Marcos’ Marcus Jackson are representing the Hylands in both their lawsuits.