LOS ANGELES (AP) _ ``Survivor'' contestant Stacey Stillman and the TV series production company involved in legal action with her each claimed victory in a judge's tentative ruling.
Stillman, who alleges the CBS reality show was rigged against her, cannot be sued for breach of contract because of her claims, Superior Court Judge Ralph Dau said in his tentative decision Monday.
But Dau indicated that his official ruling will allow the SEG production company to proceed with its defamation claim against Stillman.
``I'm elated,'' Stillman, a San Francisco attorney, said Monday. ``I'm just thrilled that the judge has ruled I can't be sued for speaking truthfully about illegal activities.''
Whether or not Stillman's claims are true, Dau said a contract should not be the means of preventing someone from making a claim of impropriety.
Dau also said a confidentiality clause in the agreement between Stillman and the show's producer wasn't undermined because Stillman made her comments after the first season of ``Survivor'' aired.
Stillman claims in her lawsuit that SEG and executive producer Mark Burnett persuaded other contestants to vote her out of the game. Player Richard Hatch won the $1 million grand prize.
SEG's breach of contract and defamation lawsuit against Stillman followed.
Andy White, a lawyer representing producer SEG _ formerly Survivor Entertainment Group _ called the judge's decision ``a mixed bag.'' But he praised the judge's apparent decision to let the defamation action against Stillman proceed.
``We're very pleased with the result and looking forward to getting in front of a jury as soon as possible,'' White said, adding it could be next spring or later before that happens.
Stillman said her own lawsuit is ``full steam ahead.''
``Each day we learn something new about fraud,'' she said. Her lawsuit also alleges breach of contract and unlawful business practices.
Burnett and CBS deny contestants were influenced in voting her out during the show's third week.
In his ruling, Dau took into account a deposition by ``Survivor'' contestant Dirk Been, who said Burnett spoke with him about which players to vote for or against.