A man who admits bullying Eminem at school has been told he cannot sue the rapper over lyrics depicting his beating as a brain-jarring attack. An appeals court ruled that most fans would not take the story in the 1999 track Brain Damage from the Slim Shady LP seriously.
According to the rap, the Detroit-area rapper (real name Marshall Mathers) was beaten so badly that his head hit a urinal. The song also claimed the principal joined in the assault, and that Eminem's entire brain "fell out" of his skull.
Bailey sued in 2001, claiming that the rapper had violated his privacy by publicizing unreasonable information that put him in a false light. But a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed the case Friday, saying most listeners would not take the rapper's words as factual.
During the trial, a lawyer for Bailey argued that his client was a victim of libel and had been subject to emotional distress. But the judge in the case rejected this argument, pointing out that Bailey's own testimony indicated he did not believe the beatings were as severe as the ones described in the song.
After the ruling, Bailey's lawyer said he was not surprised and that they would not appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. He said that his client hoped the verdict will encourage others to speak out against bullying and to support victims of this kind of abuse. Bailey is now a sanitation worker living in Roseville, Michigan, according to public records.