Rob Lowe and his ex-nanny both claimed victory Thursday after a California judge threw out four of the actor’s claims against Jessica Gibson but also one of Gibson’s allegations.
Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille issued the technical legal rulings in the emotionally charged litigation, in which both sides are suing each other, in a courtroom in Santa Barbara.
For Gibson, the judge ruled that Lowe could not pursue his defamation claims against her because the 24-year-old former nanny is protected under laws allowing people to protest alleged workplace conditions. Three other claims also were tossed.
“This is a huge victory for us today,” said Gibson’s lawyer, Gloria Allred. “We look forward to continuing with our sexual harassment suit against the Lowes.”
But for Lowe’s side the judge threw out Gibson’s claim that the actor retaliated against her. Previously, the judge dismissed two of Gibson’s other claims against Lowe.
“We didn’t lose anything today,” Lowe attorney Larry Stein told PEOPLE. “I’m delighted with the dismissal we won, and in essence, our lawsuit against Gibson remains totally intact.”
Stein noted that Gibson had sought to have Lowe’s entire lawsuit dismissed but a number of key claims remain.
Gibson attended the hearing with her father at her side, while the Lowes did not attend. Neither party was required to show.
The litigation began when Lowe, 44, filed a preemptive lawsuit in April accusing Gibson of demanding $1.5 million in exchange for her silence. The action also alleged several now-dismissed claims, including defamation. The suit seeks $1 million-plus.
Gibson answered with a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, claiming the actor groped her and exposed himself during her seven-year employment with the Lowe family. The suit also alleged the now-dismissed claim of retaliation.
Lowe, the star of TV’s Brothers & Sisters, vehemently denies he did anything improper – pointing out that Gibson voluntarily quit the job three times. He also filed evidence alleging her promiscuity.
Since then, a second former nanny, Laura Boyce, 37, filed suit against the Lowes, but only accused the actor’s wife of direct sexual harassment.