South Carolina

Ric Flair’s former Charlotte-based agent says she’s suing him for defamation

Wrestling icon Ric Flair faces a defamation lawsuit filed by his former Charlotte-based agent, the agent and her company say.

In a June 3 YouTube video that Flair has since taken down, the former longtime Charlottean accused Melinda Zanoni of embezzling from him. The Charlotte Observer reviewed the video before it was removed.

In a statement this week, Zanoni and Legacy Talent and Entertainment LLC said they filed a civil lawsuit against Flair and “certain unnamed (for now) defendants for defamation per se and look forward to proving the falsity of every wrongful allegation contained in his video that was posted on YouTube on June 3, 2019.” Zanoni is Legacy’s founder and CEO.

“Ric Flair having taken down the video is not enough,” the statement continued. “We will vigorously use the court system to protect our good names and reputations, and obtain damages due to Ric Flair’s defamatory comments contained in the video.

“We intend to amend the lawsuit to include all involved parties and hold all involved accountable,” according to the statement, obtained by various media outlets this week, including the Observer. “We completely stand behind our client’s well known reputation for truthfulness, professionalism, honor, and integrity.”

The lawsuit was not yet publicly available for review on Wednesday at the Mecklenburg County Civil Superior Court office, according to a court official. It can take days or more from when a lawsuit is filed before court officials stamp the complaint as filed and it becomes available for public review.

Flair has been at odds with Zanoni since at least November 2017, when the former WWE star filed a lawsuit in Mecklenburg County Civil Superior Court against Legacy Talent and Entertainment.

In the lawsuit, Flair in part said Legacy was “wrongfully retaining at least $43,000 in its ‘client escrow account’” that belonged to Flair, including a $12,000 royalty advance from a fireworks company. Court records show Flair dismissed the complaint in March 2018 but do not say why.

While in an Atlanta hospital in September 2017, Flair tweeted that he had fired Zanoni and Legacy Talent and Entertainment but didn’t explain why, the Observer reported at the time. Flair was admitted to the hospital that August for what his now-wife Wendy Barlow said in a private Facebook post was multiple organ problems, the Observer reported.

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC