If you somehow zapped fourth president of the United States James Madison through a wormhole and, the moment he appeared in 2020, asked him, “Does the First Amendment protect putting a tracking device on beloved fitness guru Richard Simmons’s car?,” he would probably be too busy screaming to answer. But California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals wasn’t on Thursday, when it upheld a judge’s ruling that the First Amendment does not protect Bauer Media, former owners of In Touch Weekly, from being sued after a tracking device was found on Simmons’s driver’s car.
According to Variety, a three-judge panel determined Simmons can move forward with a lawsuit accusing In Touch Weekly of invasion of privacy after Scott Brian Mathews, a private investigator hired by the magazine, placed a tacking device on the vehicle in 2017. Bauer Media filed a motion to dismiss the suit under California’s anti-SLAPP laws, created to subvert frivolous lawsuits designed to intimidate outlets from publishing news, alleging they only hired Mathews to take photos of Simmons during a hospital visit. Mathews pleaded no contest to placing the device, and received probation.
If you’ll recall, 2017 was the year the Missing Richard Simmons podcast was busy speculating about the unexplained retreat of Simmons from his once very public life. Among the podcast’s many suggested reasons for the fitness mogul’s social disappearance include allegations of manipulation on the part of a long-time employee, elder abuse, or Simmons’s alleged decision to transition. Simmons himself denied any abuse after the LAPD performed a wellness check on his home.