Val Chmerkovskiy Sued For $6 Million After Allegedly Mocking Girl With Down Syndrome
Val Chmerkovskiy is being sued for allegedly mocking a girl with Down Syndrome, who claims she’s now suffering emotional distress after his comments went viral.
Earlier this month, Chmerkovskiy posted a meme on Instagram that featured a photo of a heavy-set child drinking a soda. Over the picture, the text read, “Letting your child become obese should be considered child abuse.” Chmerkovskiy himself wrote in the caption, “I am truly sorry for the lack of sensitivity… but on some level I have to agree. Raising a child is the hardest thing in the world, I know, but being negligent when it comes to their nutrition is a crime. The lifelong obstacles and health issues you place on your child because of it can be devastating moving forward in their life. You’re handicapping your kid, and they’re defenseless, they don’t know better, that’s why you’re there… anyway I’m just a childless preacher, but here’s some food for thought. #nopunintended.”
The post, which was also on the “Dancing With the Stars” pro’s Facebook and Twitter pages, was met with a swift backlash. Many followers called out Chmerkovskiy for making judgments without knowing if the girl had a medical condition, and for posting an underage stranger’s photo without her consent. And though the posts were ultimately taken down, that didn’t happen until after it was shared thousands of times.
Now the Tennesse-based family of 16-year-old Skylar Eden, the girl in the snapshot, has filed a lawsuit against Chmerkovskiy. The suit, which says Skylar’s weight issues are due to her Down Syndrome, claims the picture was originally taken by someone at a baseball game in 2008, and posted online with the caption, “Everything that’s wrong with America.” It apparently became a meme over the years and eventually caught Chmerkovskiy’s attention.
And now that he exposed it to more than 700,000 Instagram followers, plus 365,000 on Facebook and 277,000 on Twitter), Skylar and her family say she’s suffered extreme emotional distress. They’re suing the dancer for that, as well as invasion of privacy and defamation, and seeking $6 million in damages. But that’s not all.
The lawsuit also seeks $6 million from CBS News for also re-posting the meme, plus $600,000 from the original guy who took and uploaded the photograph, according to TMZ. At the time of the incident, Chmerkovskiy went on to post several more times about body weight and defended his actions as his followers continued to debate the issue, and those are currently still available on his social media pages.
Gossip Cop reached out to a rep for Chmerkovskiy for comment, but did not immediately hear back. Local news stories on the situation from earlier this month can be watched below.