Judge allows Kandi Burruss’ defamation claims against Johnnie Winston III to move forward

Johnnie Winston worked for Kandi Burruss from 2013 until earlier this year. Now he’s suing her for back wages. CREDIT: (left-Twitter; right-Getty Images)

This was posted Friday, May 19, 2017 by Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

A U.S. federal district judge Amy Totenberg has cleared Kandi Burruss to pursue defamation counterclaims against Johnnie Winston III, who filed a lawsuit last fall claiming lost wages.

The Jasmine Brand broke the news first. I have procured the May 16 paperwork as well.

Burruss alleged that Winston broke a non-disclosure agreement and defamed her on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” to gain publicity for his own company. Winston also happened to be aided and abetted by attorney Phaedra Parks, who appears to be off the show after making all sorts of crazy rumors about Burruss.  She never represented him but helped him find an attorney Oscar Prioleau Jr. and was filmed doing so.

On the “Real Housewives,” Winston alleged that Burruss had taken his idea of opening a restaurant and claimed she had also ripped off his idea for her play “A Mother’s Love.” She denied she took any ideas from him, that the OLG restaurant that recently opened was based on her family members and so was the play.

In her counterclaim, she wrote:

Mr. Winston’s on-air comments regarding Ms. Burruss-Tucker’s restaurant
business and the play entitled “A Mother’s Love” were made with actual malice as
Mr. Winston was aware his statements were false and/or had a reckless disregard
for their falsity.

She added:

Mr. Winston’s ploy to gain additional publicity by making knowingly false
and malicious accusations regarding Defendants on camera, that were subsequently
broadcast nationally and internationally, are the subject of Defendants’
counterclaims. Mr. Winston’s statements were not only slanderous, defamatory
and calculated to injure Defendants’ public persona and professional brand, but
were also in breach of the Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement signed
by Mr. Winston.

Winston in his lawsuit said he worked for Burruss and her company Kandi Koated Entertainment from mid-2013 through early 2016.  (Details of the lawsuit are here.) He said he requested overtime at least three times and was denied. Burruss in her counterclaim said she had no reason to pay him overtime because he was an independent contractor.

According to the judges’ decision, “the Court finds that Defendants’ Motion to Amend satisfies the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants have demonstrated good cause for adding the counterclaims based on their relatively recent discovery of Plaintiff’s statements on television.”

I have reached out to attorneys on both sides but have not heard back.

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