Tom Cruise filed a $50 million lawsuit against Life & Style and In Touch magazines for printing inflammatory headlines that suggest he has been a bad dad to daughter Suri since his divorce. The "Knight and Day" star is suing the sister publications for two separate covers that show a miserable Suri with the headlines: "SURI IN TEARS, ABANDONED BY HER DAD" and "ABANDONED BY DADDY."
There's one big problem with Tom's lawsuit, however. He has reportedly not seen his daughter for three months.
Though the court case could hinge partly on the legal interpretation of the word "abandonment," Cruise's MIA status could makes it difficult to prove he is a doting dad. The multi-millionaire has a private plane at his disposal and could fly anywhere in the world if he wanted to -- including New York City where Suri lives with her mom, Katie Holmes.
The court papers claim the three-time Golden Globe award winner tried to correct the gossip magazines' allegations but "defendants have demonstrated that they have no interest in the truth, and will stop at nothing to push the sales of their tabloids, even if this means exploiting a defenseless six year old child on their cover."
Cruise's lawsuit further argues that many people see only the sensational covers of the tabloids at supermarket check-out counters and on Internet websites and never read the full story. For instance, one might assume from the cover headline that Suri is crying because she misses her father, but only the most curious reader discovers she looks sad in the picture because her mom won't let her adopt a puppy from the pet store.
Of more importance, however, is not why the frequently sulky Suri seems upset, but whether or not she has truly been "abandoned" by her father. The lawsuit asserts most people will infer Cruise "has cut off all ties with his daughter, has completely and permanently abdicated his parental responsibilities, and no longer wants Suri to be part of his life."
Perhaps. Or they may take a less legalistic view of the term and wonder why a man with so many resources relies on a cell phone to parent his six-year-old child.
If the past is a prologue, David Beckham had his lawsuit against In Touch tossed out last year by a judge whose lawyers could not prove the tabloid knew the information in its story was false or that it intended to harm him. The controversial story concerned an accusation by a call girl the soccer star had paid her for sexual favors.
As with Beckham's case, legal blog FindLaw says Cruise will have to show "the published statements were untrue … that Life & Style and In Touch were careless in publishing the stories … and the magazines acted with malice."
Those could be steep legal mountains to climb -- even for the megastar of "Mission Impossible."
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