Jay Leno sued by woman claiming defamation over bestiality jokes

Louann Giambattista is suing Leno for implying she was "engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat"

Published November 18, 2013 10:43PM (EST)

New York-based flight attendant Louann Giambattista has sued "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, his show and NBC for what she claims is a false accusation of "engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat," reports theWrap via Courthouse News.

In July, Leno aired a segment based on a story that Giambattista was "smuggling her pet rat onto work flights in her underwear and/or pantyhose," reports theWrap. The segment, called "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda," invited comedian panelists Alec Mapa, Kira Soltanovich and Jim Norton to comment on (OK, ridicule) the story. "I don't understand this woman at all," joked Norton. "If she wanted something that creepy in her underwear, she should have hooked up with me."

Courthouse News reports that Giambattista sued American Airlines in June for spreading the original story and that, according to the second suit, the Leno segment has ruined her sex life with her husband:

    • Giambattista sued the airline in June, claiming her co-workers falsely reported that "she was carrying her pet rats onto work flights, and concealing them in her pantyhose or underwear."
    • She claims they "systematically criticized, defamed, and humiliated" her, though none is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
    • Millions saw the segment on television and online, the lawsuit claims, and Giambattista and her husband "became pariahs in their own community" as a result.
    •  The show also wreaked havoc on their marriage, the plaintiff says, as her husband "now suffers from severe sexual dysfunction."

Giambattista's suit claims that her sex life has suffered because “Every time [her husband] looks at her he thinks of Defendant Leno and the heinous segment depicting her as a sexual deviant.”

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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