A federal judge dismissed a former Colorado DJ’s legal claim against pop superstar Taylor Swift late Friday, saying that the radio host had failed to prove the singer personally set out to get him fired.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge William Martinez still allows David Mueller to go forward with his lawsuit against Swift’s mother, Andrea, and Frank Bell, their point man with radio stations. A symbolic countersuit by Swift for $1 can also move forward.
Mueller had denied groping Swift during a 2013 meet-and-greet and had sued her for up to $3 million.
While the judge was ruling, Swift occasionally looked at her attorney for approval. When Martinez was finished, Swift and her team walked up to one another and hugged, smiled and whispered.
Closing arguments regarding the remaining claims are due to be heard Monday.
Martinez had sent the jurors home earlier Friday while attorneys on both sides argued over whether Mueller had presented enough evidence to send his full case to the jury. Those statements and the judge’s questions focused on whether Swift herself had done anything to get Mueller fired.
Swift’s former bodyguard had testified that he saw Mueller reach under her skirt a moment before a photographer snapped their picture during the pre-concert meet-and-greet at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
Greg Dent, who no longer works for Swift, said he was standing a few steps away but did not intervene because he generally took his cues from the pop star, and she gave him no signals during the encounter.
Seated at her legal team’s table, Swift chuckled when Dent testified that, after the photo was taken, he suspected that Mueller would be at the bar of the arena — and another guard found him there.
On Thursday, Swift spent an hour on the witness stand herself recounting what she called a “despicable and horrifying and shocking” encounter.
“He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,” Swift testified.
“It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added in her testimony.
Swift’s testy exchange with Mueller’s attorney occasionally elicited chuckles — even from the six-woman, two-man jury. She got a laugh when she said Dent saw Mueller “lift my skirt” but someone would have had to have been underneath her to see the actual groping — “and we didn’t have anyone positioned there.”
Swift testified that after the photo was taken, she tried to get as far away Mueller as she could. She said she told him and his girlfriend, who was also in the photo, “thank you for coming” in a monotone voice before they left.
She also said she was stunned and did not say anything to Mueller or halt the event after he left because she did not want to disappoint several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.
In the image, shown to jurors during opening statements but not publicly released, Mueller’s hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Mueller’s then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, is on the other side of Swift. All three are smiling.
Melcher testified Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief encounter and that she and Mueller were rudely confronted and escorted out of the arena that evening.
Melcher testified Mueller was devastated by the accusation.
She said she and Mueller started out as co-workers at country station KYGO-FM and became romantically involved in February 2013, a few months before the concert. They drifted apart late in 2013, but Melcher says they remained friends.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.