Videos of members of the local Sikh community partying with sex workers in Costa Rica were the subject of a lawsuit filed earlier this year. Some of those at a party sued another party-goer after videos of the party were shared on WhatsApp.
Ranbir Chhina, Navdeep Singh, Kewal Singh, Opinder Dhillon and Amandeep Singh sued Parminder Walia after Walia shared the videos on WhatsApp. The videos subsequently went viral.
“I sent the videos to the group of ten Sikhs to show that American Sikhs, despite the conservative values of Sikhism, know how to party and have a good time,” Walia said in a sworn statement filed in Washoe County’s Second Judicial District Court.
Walia sought to dismiss the case under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes after the plaintiffs allege their reputations were damaged. An anti-SLAPP motion was filed in August, and a hearing on the case was scheduled for Friday in the Washoe County court.
Instead, the plaintiffs settled with Walia and will pay him $45,000 in attorney fees.
“The Plaintiffs are akin to any group of men hiring adult entertainment at a birthday party,” their attorney Nicholus Palmer with the Laub & Laub law firm argued. “Any interest in their conduct amounts to mere curiosity to the public at large.”
Palmer alleged, after we published a story on the case in August, that Walia had given to This Is Reno video and photos from the party. This is false.
“The Defendant in this matter has also given this story to a local website called thisireno.com [sic],” he alleged. “The Defendant is attempting to turn a private matter into public interest by communicating it to a large group of people. This is clearly in violation of the fifth element the district court must analyze when determining if this matter is of public concern.”
Walia’s attorney, Marc Randazza, fired back at the plaintiffs in early September.
“Walia does not contest that This is Reno published an article about this lawsuit nor does Walia suggest that it is not an accurate copy of the article,” he wrote. “He does contest the relevance of the article, however, for the reasons set forth in his Reply in support of the Anti- SLAPP Motion – namely, it is an article that came out after the lawsuit was filed.”
Randazza also said Palmer submitted “selectively cropped versions” of a photograph “which deceptively omit Plaintiff Amandeep Singh’s involvement. In an impressive display of gall, Plaintiff’s argued in their Opposition that Walia was somehow acting in bad faith because he did not disseminate videos showing himself engaging in the services of prostitutes, claiming (without evidence) that he was hiding his involvement in the party.”
He said the “evidence” submitted to the court by the plaintiffs was “an attempt to mislead the court.”
Soon thereafter, court documents show the plaintiffs agreed to settle the case.
Though Palmer argued the men’s activities were not a matter of public interest, our reporting on the case was the top trending story on our website for nearly a week.