Richard Simmons’s Tracking Device Lawsuit Gets OK to Proceed

The surreal place where espionage and "Sweatin' to the Oldies" meet

Richard Simmons
Richard Simmons in 2011.
Angela George/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / May 24, 2020 3:51 pm

Depending on your feelings on hyperactive physical fitness instructors, you might not have thought about Richard Simmons in a long time. That was the experience of many people, until the popular podcast Missing Richard Simmons renewed the interest of many people in Simmons’s life and work. The podcast was hosted by Dan Taberski, a producer who had taken classes with Simmons and used his platform to explore that had happened to the self-improvement guru.

Writing at Vox in 2017, Aja Romano noted that “as Taberski’s attempts to get close to Simmons ramped up, so did serious discussions about what right the public has to intrude on Simmons’s life.” By his own account, Simmons was fine, telling Today in 2016 that “I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a while.”

The podcast prompted a renewed media interest in Simmons — which led to a lawsuit that Simmons filed in California against the publisher of In Touch Weekly. Now, an appeals court has ruled that Simmons can move forward with this lawsuit. Writing at Vulture, Halle Kiefer notes that the appeals court ruled in Simmons’s favor.

[California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals] upheld a judge’s ruling that the First Amendment does not protect Bauer Media, former owners of In Touch Weekly, from being sued after a tracking device was found on Simmons’s driver’s car.

The device was placed there by a private investigator, Scott Brian Mathews. Mathews has since pled no contest to the charge and received probation. But the larger issue of whether the publisher that hired him is liable remains unanswered — though it seems like resolution on that front may be closer than expected.

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