The Most Gripping Celebrity Legal Battles Of 2022 So Far

The following article includes multiple mentions of sexual and domestic violence.

The lives of celebrities are often associated with fame, fortune, and luxury living, but at times, living such an extraordinary life can also become quite complicated. Celebrities have a lot of money at stake, and much of their personal business unfolds in front of the public eye, which can easily intensify some of the sticky situations they face.

Many famous faces have found themselves inside the courtroom battling with other people, and at times, celebrities have even attended court to settle issues they have with one another. A number of celebrity lawsuits are of a personal nature and highlight incidents that occur during the day-to-day lives of the stars, while others are disputes that are associated with their craft. Regardless of the reason for litigation, it's sure to be a stressful experience for each star that winds up in court, and this stress is magnified when fans across the world are made privy to all the details, as information is publicly shared.

Sadly, some of the high-profile incidents that wind up in court are connected to tragic events, and many have the potential to carry criminal charges. The year 2022 is no exception, with some of the most gripping legal matters in the realm of celebrity.

Alec Baldwin faces wrongful death suit

Alec Baldwin is currently facing litigation after the heart-wrenching incident that unfolded on the set of his movie "Rust" on October 21, 2021. Baldwin was intended to use a prop gun to demonstrate a shooting scene, and tragedy struck when somehow, for reasons yet to be explained, he pointed the gun and fired a real bullet, fatally wounding cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and injuring the director of the movie, Joel Souza.

The incident took place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico, and has led to an intense investigation by authorities. USA Today reported that in February 2022, the family of Halyna Hutchins filed a wrongful death suit naming Alec Baldwin, who continues to deny that he pulled the trigger. The Hutchins family's attorney, Brian Panish, stated: "Alec Baldwin recklessly shot and killed Halyna Hutchins on the set. Defendant Baldwin and the other defendants in this case failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real guns ... with fatal consequences."

This is just one case filed against Baldwin surrounding this incident. In a long Facebook post, chief of lighting Serge Svetnoy wrote about the accident, "It's the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism." Svetnoy then sued the film's producers, including Baldwin, and armorers, noting the "severe emotional distress" he experienced (via Variety). Script supervisor Mamie Mitchell also sued Baldwin, other producers, and crew members.

Travis Scott's Astroworld tragedy continues to haunt him

Travis Scott's 2021 Astroworld Festival took place on November 5, 2021 in Houston, Texas, but none of the eager fans attending this highly anticipated event could have predicted the tragic sequence of events that unfolded. NBC News reported that while Scott entertained the masses, the crowd surged toward the stage, causing severe injury to some attendees and tragically taking the lives of 10 concertgoers. Scott continued performing amid the massive crowd surge, allegedly failing to recognize the severity of the situation. 

Attorneys representing thousands of victims have come forward with litigation against Live Nation, and have personally named Travis Scott in their filing. Initial reports suggested injuries by the hundreds, but a report issued by Rolling Stone on May 10, 2022, indicated that nearly 5,000 fans suffered various grades of injuries at this event. Forbes reported that three attorneys representing the victims have filed a lawsuit naming Scott and Live Nation, citing poor planning, inadequately trained security staff, and communication issues among their list of grievances against the rapper.

TMZ reported on May 12, 2022 that another lawsuit — wrongful death — was filed against Scott from Shanazia Williamson, a pregnant woman alleging she suffered a miscarriage after being injured at Astroworld. Williamson claimed she had "trouble breathing, chest pain, and left leg pain, as well as injuries to other parts of her body," which led her to lose her unborn child. This situation continues to unravel in court.

Johnny Depp's explosive defamation suit against Amber Heard

Actor Amber Heard penned an op-ed to The Washington Post in 2018 which alleged that she was a victim of abuse in many forms. In spite of the fact that Johnny Depp wasn't mentioned by name in the document, the two were newly divorced at the time. Depp believes it was easily insinuated that the op-ed was about him, and he feels it was an incorrect portrayal of him. According to People, he proceeded to file a $50 million defamation suit against Heard, and the sordid details of their troubled relationship are now unfolding in court. Both parties have made allegations about one another and have shared explosive stories about incidents that occurred during their time together.

There has been no shortage of courtroom drama, with both Depp and Heard slinging numerous allegations at one another. Entertainment Weekly reported that Heard detailed violent sexual attacks and several instances of physical violence that she says Depp inflicted upon her during his drug and alcohol abuse. Depp has given equally shocking testimony, alleging that Heard's attacks led to violent, bloody fights which resulted in him losing the tip of his finger. He also alleges he's the victim of psychological abuse and claims Heard is behind a number of cruel incidents, inclusive of smearing human feces into his bed sheets. This high-profile defamation case continues to unfold in Fairfax, Virginia, and is being streamed online.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Cardi B is awarded $4 million

Cardi B celebrated a big courtroom win in January 2022, after launching a defamation suit against Latasha Transrina Kebe, also known as YouTuber Tasha K. CNN reported that Cardi B's legal team filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia in 2019, claiming, "Kebe published multiple false and defamatory statements about Plaintiff, including that Plaintiff was a prostitute, that Plaintiff was a user of cocaine, that Plaintiff had and still has herpes."

Cardi B's team added, "By making and publishing the statements, and campaign of harassing videos, including the Defamatory Videos, Defendants were intending to cause Plaintiff emotional distress." Billboard reported on Cardi B's court testimony, during which time she said, "I felt extremely suicidal," and "helpless," in reference to the stress caused by these false allegations that were made against her.

The judge awarded Cardi B $1 million for general damages, over $1.3 million to cover litigation expenses, $1.5 million for punitive damages, and $25,000 for medical fees, reported CNN.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Ed Sheeran defends his integrity

Ed Sheeran faced allegations of copyright infringement for his hit song "Shape Of You," and fiercely fought back to defend his integrity. Sheeran asserted his confidence in his creative process by defending himself against Sami Chokri, an artist who performs under the stage name 'Sami Switch." Chokri alleged that his 2015 song "Oh Why" contained a lyric that was "strikingly similar" to the "Oh Why" lyric in Sheeran's song. A judge ruled in Ed Sheeran's favor on April 6, 2022.

Sheeran took to social media to discuss his win. In the video posted to his Instagram account, the musician said, "I feel like claims like this are way too common now, and have become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there's no base for the claim. It's really damaging to the songwriting industry." He continued, "There's only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidence is bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify." The star advocated for an end to such lawsuits.

During an interview with the BBC News, Sheeran revealed that he had previously settled a similar case in court, and believes that's why "the floodgates opened," leading other artists to think they could sue him in hopes of a payout. Sheeran wisely began recording his songwriting process.

Blac Chyna loses a defamation suit against the Kardashians

In 2017, Blac Chyna filed a lawsuit against the Kardashian family for allegedly interfering with the reality television show she was filming with Rob Kardashian, "Rob & Chyna," according to Us Weekly. Chyna claimed this completely prevented her from being able to proceed with her employment as an entertainer, thereby stifling her earnings.

Chyna's $100 million defamation suit stated that Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner had interfered with Chyna's reality TV contract. Chyna's attorney, Lynne Ciani, alleged that the KarJenners wanted to oust "Rob & Chyna" to make way for "Life of Kylie," and Chyna said the clan forced the cancelation of her show as a form of "revenge" for breaking up with Rob, according to Entertainment Tonight. Chyna's massive suit was a result of damages she was seeking after alleging her earnings were deeply affected.

Michael Rhodes represented the Kardashian family in court, and alleged that Blac Chyna was responsible for damaging her brand with her actions, and TV executives testified that the famous family had no control over which shows the E! network decided to pursue or cancel.

A pastor sues Kanye West over using his sermon

Bishop David P. Moten filed a lawsuit against Ye (formerly Kanye) West in Dallas Federal court in May 2022, alleging that West stole samples of his sermon without authorization. The copyright infringement case alleges that 20% of a single from West's "Donda" album, "Come To Life," reflects a sermon used by Moten, according to Billboard. Moten stated that the unauthorized sample occurs in the beginning of the song and throughout it.

Strict copyright regulations prohibit the use of non-original song samples, and Moten is pushing forward to defend what he believes to be rightfully his. "'Come to Life' is approximately five minutes and ten seconds (5:10) in length. Approximately one minute and ten seconds (1:10) of this sound recording is sampled directly from Plaintiff's sermon," said Moten's legal representative. ET Canada noted that in addition to suing Ye West, Moten's legal documents also name Def Jam Recordings, G.O.O.D Music, and UMG Recordings for their role in the allegedly unauthorized use of his sermon.

"Defendants willfully and without the permission or consent of Plaintiff extensively sampled portions of the Sermon," said Moten in the suit (via Billboard). "Over the span of several years, defendants have demonstrated an alarming pattern and practice of willfully and egregiously sampling sound recordings of others without consent or permission." Representatives for West have not issued a public statement.

NeNe Leakes alleges racism and discrimination on the set of a hit reality TV show

NeNe Leakes was featured as one of the starring cast members on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" for Season 1-7 and 10-12, during which time she says she was subjected to numerous instances of racism and discrimination which were allegedly tolerated by the network and its affiliates. Time reported that Leakes' suit names Bravo, NBCUniversal, True Entertainment and Truly Original, as well as executives from the companies, including producer Andy Cohen. Her suit states, "NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not, encouraged" (via Time).

Leakes provided numerous examples of discrimination as part of her suit, inclusive of comments made by housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who in the first season, allegedly sarcastically referenced Leakes in relation to eating chicken. Leakes' lawsuit claims the comment "perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans." Leakes also alleged that during the fifth season, Zolciak-Biermann referenced her by using the N-word, but after Leakes expressed her discontent about these occurrences, the network "did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann, nor take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior," the suit noted. It's important to mention that Leakes' suit also claimed she was cast aside during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement: "...NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the 'house she built,' denying her a regular role."

When TMZ asked Leakes about the purpose of her lawsuit, she answered, "The goals are to stop discrimination against Black women."

Brad Pitt fights with Angelina Jolie over their vineyard

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's bitter divorce has unfolded in front of the media, and the embattled couple has had their fair share of legal issues along the way. In February 2022, a full six years after proceeding with his divorce, Pitt's representatives filed legal papers in a Los Angeles court accusing Jolie of breach of contract. This litigation stemmed from Jolie's sale of her 50% ownership stake in the former couple's shared French vineyard, Château Miraval, to a Russian mogul, according to People.

BBC News noted that in 2008, the couple purchased their controlling interest in the vineyard. Pitt alleged that he and Jolie had pledged not to sell their shares without consent from both parties. Entertainment Weekly acquired court documents citing that Miraval "has grown into a multimillion-dollar international success story" as a result of Pitt's efforts, and revealed Pitt's intentions to protect his investment. 

Pitt's legal team stated (via Page Six): "Jolie seeks to recover unearned windfall profits for herself while inflicting gratuitous harm on Pitt. Jolie long ago stopped contributing to Miraval — while Pitt poured money and sweat equity into the wine business. Jolie seeks to seize profits she has not earned and returns on an investment she did not make." The documents also revealed that Pitt was denied his right of first refusal and had no prior knowledge of Jolie's plans to sell.

Wendy Williams sues Well Fargo

Wendy Williams' physical and mental health issues plagued her career for several years, and eventually culminated in a messy legal battle with her bank, Wells Fargo. Williams alleged the bank blocked her from being able to access millions of dollars that belonged to her. According to People, the bank alleged that Williams was unable to manage her own finances as a result of her mental health issues — information they claim to have obtained from Lori Schiller, a former financial advisor who once worked for Williams. Schiller reportedly told the bank Williams "was of unsound mind" to handle her own financial affairs — something that Williams strongly denies. In her February 2022 court filing, Williams stated that Wells Fargo had "impeded and unlawfully prevented" her financial access. 

Entertainment Tonight reported that the bank denied any wrongdoing: "[Wells Fargo] has strong reason to believe that [Williams] is the victim of undue influence and financial exploitation," read the court letter, claiming Williams' financial advisor and third parties were consulted. Schiller, the advisor, claimed Williams herself had been apprehensive about exploitation.

Williams declared she had previously released Schiller from her duties, indicating that as a result, the bank has no authority to speak to Schiller about her personal matters.

Justin Bieber gets sued for copyright infringement

Justin Bieber and Dan + Shay were sued for copyright infringement in April 2022, over their hit song "10,000 Hours," which was released in 2019. People reported that the song garnered success and immediately landed in the Billboard Hot 100's number 4 spot, which equated to huge profits for the artists. The rights to that song are now being challenged.

Melomega Music (with Sound Gems and International Manufacturing Concepts) has filed legal documents against the musicians, claiming Dan + Shay and Bieber "stole the core portion" of their song. They alleged that "10,000 Hours" shares "unmistakable similarities" with a single titled "The First Time Baby Is A Holiday," which Frank Fioravanti and Palmer Rakes wrote decades prior to the song put out by Bieber, and Dan + Shay.

Melomega's lawyers explained in the suit (via Billboard), "'10,000 Hours' is not just substantially similar to 'First Time'; defendants copied, in minute detail, the most important, core portion of plaintiff's song, which includes the chorus, verse and hook." They go on to say, "The similarities are so striking that '10,000 Hours' simply cannot have been independently created." Neither Bieber nor Dan + Shay have publicly commented on this matter.

Marilyn Manson fires back at Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood shocked fans when she came forward to name the abuser she had talked about with anonymity in the past, saying on Instagram that it was shock rocker Marilyn Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner. Wood and Manson were previously engaged to one another, and news of these allegations against Manson quickly swept the headlines. Wood alleged she was the victim of sexual abuse during the course of her relationship with Manson, and openly detailed instances of alleged exploitation. This prompted several other women to come forward with their own sexual abuse and misconduct allegations against Manson.

Wood's abusive relationship with Manson is further detailed in the HBO documentary "Phoenix Rising," which includes horrific accounts of domestic and sexual violence Manson allegedly committed (via USA Today).

Entertainment Weekly reported that the disgraced artist responded by filing a defamation suit against Wood, citing that she was fabricating the allegations. Attorney Howard King stated to the outlet on Manson's behalf: "This detailed complaint has been filed to stop a campaign of malicious and unjustified attacks on Brian Warner. Years after the end of Evan Rachel Wood's long-term relationship with Warner, she and her girlfriend Illma Gore recruited numerous women and convinced them to make false allegations against him." Manson denied all the allegations. Wood said on "Good Morning America" in March 2022, "I stand by everything that I've said about the abuse allegations."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Erika Jayne denies racketeering and aiding and abetting allegations

"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Erika Jayne is being legally pursued for her supposed involvement in her former husband Tom Girardi's embezzlement charges. Girardi and Jayne have been accused of taking large sums of money that were intended for victims of the Lion Air Flight 610 plane crash and keeping it for themselves, allegations that Jayne claimed she knew nothing about. Us Weekly reported that Jayne denied having received a $20 million cut of her then-husband's money, claiming that she has never seen these funds at all. She has denied any knowledge of her ex-husband's alleged financial wrongdoings.

People reported that Edelson PC law firm has filed a $55 million lawsuit against Jayne, and her company EJ Global LLC, and Girardi & Keese law firm. Jayne is named as part of the lawsuit alleging "racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, receipt of stolen property, aiding and abetting concealment of stolen property, unlawful business practice, consumers legal remedies act and deceit," as summed up by People. The documents allege, "Indeed, the Girardi Keese firm operated what we now know was the largest criminal racketeering enterprise in the history of plaintiffs' law." Edelson PC also claims that Girardi & Keese stole in excess of $100 million dollars.

Jayne continues to deny any knowledge that her husband, Tom Girardi, was wrongfully taking money, and denies any wrongdoing of her own.