Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seeking over $1.7 million from his girlfriend’s brother, Micheal Sanchez, in a bid to cover legal fees he incurred as a result of an unsuccessful defamation lawsuit. Sanchez had sued Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, claiming they defamed him by telling a journalist that he had been the source of personal photos of Bezos that were leaked to the National Enquirer. However, the case was thrown out because Sanchez’s only evidence was that he had heard that from journalists.
Now, according to Bloomberg, Bezos and Becker recently filed a motion with Los Angeles County Superior Court to compel Sanchez to reimburse them for $1,676,919.50 in attorney fees and $36,019.26 in other costs they racked up while defending the defamation suit from Sanchez. The motion by Bezos’ attorney read that the fees and costs are reasonable and the work performed was commensurate with that necessary to defend vigorously against the Plaintiff's “abusive and constantly shifting case”.
The motion further demanded defendants’ fees be granted in full. Tom Warren, an attorney for Sanchez, on the other hand, said that Bezos’ fees request is “obscene, even grotesque, on many levels”.
Meanwhile, Bezos’ request is the latest development in a tabloid drama between the Amazon CEO and Sanchez that began more than two years ago. Back in 2019, hours after Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced they were divorcing, the National Enquirer revealed that Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a helicopter pilot and former TV anchor. The media outlet said that it had conducted a four-month investigation into the relationship between Bezos and Sanchez and had acquired “flirtatious” messages the couple had sent to each other.
Further, the tabloid also said that it had personal photos of both Bezos and his girlfriend, including one that was too explicit to describe in print. Following the leak, Bezos funded an investigation into the incident. The report revealed that Sanchez was behind leaking the personal chats and he sold them to the National Enquirer.
In 2020, Sanchez then filed the defamation lawsuit against Bezos and Becker, alleging that both men falsely accused him of providing photos to the media outlet. Sanchez claimed he never had the photos in his possession. Bezos, however, quickly filed a motion to dismiss the suit under California’s Anti-SLAPP law, which is intended to protect against frivolous lawsuits. In November 2020, the judge ruled in favour of Bezos, calling the evidence "inadmissible hearsay" and striking down Sanchez's suit. The latest motion argues that Bezos and Becker are entitled to recoup attorney fees as part of the law.