Richard Simmons wants a judge to reject — or at least slim down — the $ 221,888 in legal fees demanded by American Media for their court battle over claims the fitness guru had “shocking sex swap surgery.”
Simmons, 69, sued the company last May claiming its National Enquirer and Radar Online titles libeled him.
A Los Angeles judge struck down the complaint a few months later, and American Media filed paperwork to recoup its attorneys’ fees.
A hearing on the fees is set for next week.
“These attorneys have a very high opinion of themselves, and we intend to persuade the court that this is the kind of outrageous billing that makes lawyers look bad,” Simmons’ lawyer Neville Johnson told the Daily News Tuesday.
In his motion opposing the fees, Johnson said the $ 221,888 figure billed 440 hours of work for the filing of an Anti-SLAPP motion that turned on one issue — whether being falsely identified as transgender is defamatory per se.
The lawyer said the “whopping” bill included “duplicative work” and should be tossed in its entirety or reduced to no more than 120 hours of work.
In his prior ruling that discarded the underlying suit, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian zeroed in on the fact Simmons didn’t claim any specific economic losses over The Enquirer’s 2016 cover story claiming Simmons received breast implants, hormone treatments and consultations on medical castration.
Without any stated damages, “misidentification of a person as transgender is not actionable defamation,” the judge wrote.
He said while being transgender may subject someone to bigotry from a “sizable” portion of the population, “the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them.”