Jillian Epperly is attempting to sue me for defamation in Small Claims court in Ohio. The poop cult leader claims that I have spread libelous and unsubstantiated rumors about her. While the lawsuit is a pain in my behind, her case will never stand up in court.
After spending the day at the hair salon, I came home to a notice from the post office. A mail carrier attempted to deliver a certified letter from a court in Ohio. The note said the letter pertained to Jillian Epperly.
Because I wasn’t properly served, I jumped online to find out the facts of the case. Epperly filed a complaint in the small claims division of her county in Ohio. She is requesting a financial judgment of $4608.00.
The suit intrigued me. While I have covered numerous allegations and legal issues surrounding Jillian, I have not maintained a business relationship of any kind with her. We have never exchanged money. Nor do we have any contracts that bind us in any form of a relationship.
Thankfully, I did not have to wait long to find out her reason for the suit. On Monday, April 15, I called the clerk in Ohio. The woman told me that the lawsuit alleged that I wrote, “Libelous, slanderous, unsubstantiated publications.” After hearing the docket, I asked the clerk to clarify the law.
According to the clerk, the small claims division deals with evictions, injuries due to accidents, car accidents, and small, petty disputes. She said the court does not handle defamation and cannot award punitive damages. After explaining the court jurisdiction, she told me to write a letter to the court to request a dismissal. She also told me I would need to be formally served for the suit. Which I have not been to date.
Not totally sure the lawsuit pertained to defamation, I posted online to my Facebook Page. Jillian saw the post and uploaded a video to her Facebook profile stating her lawsuit was for defamation. She deleted the video later that night. However, I have receipts.
Later that day I spoke with an attorney, a friend I’ve known since childhood, to discuss the next steps for me. Over Facebook, he provided me a ton of information about my legal rights. He reviewed statutes in Ohio for small claims court and determined the court held no jurisdiction over the matter or me.
According to Ohio law, the small claims division does not have jurisdiction over out of state defendants. Because I have never met Jillian nor had a business relationship with her, there is no way a court could enforce any judgment against me.
The attorney agreed to help me. We worked out a plan of the steps to take to manage the case. Our first course of action is to request a dismissal of the lawsuit. Additionally, I should point out that the court has not officially served me. If the court fails to serve me, I will request dismissal for failure to properly serve.
For many that support me, the suit appears to be an attempt to intimidate and silence me. I do not disagree with their assessment. At no place in my coverage of Jillian have I defamed her. In fact, I started covering her in August 2018. By the time I started writing about her, she had already been on Dr. Phil.
On Dr. Phil, Jillian faced off with YouTube Star Jeff Holiday. Holiday crafted a 5 episode series about Jillian that outlined the dangers and the science behind her protocol. His series has hundreds of thousands of views.
During an episode on Dr. Phil, two women told her they suffered strokes after drinking her cabbage juice. She admitted that the liquid could regrow limbs, cure cancer, and reverse down syndrome. Doctors on the show warned her about salt poisoning, dehydration, and potentially fatal side effects of the sodium in her drink.
A doctor discusses the dangers:
Dr. Phil called her claims outlandish and baseless. Clips from his show on his YouTube channel have millions of views. Jillian explains the protocol and makes claims of curing AIDS, HIV, autism, cancer, and homosexuality.
The views for Dr. Phil’s YouTube clips on the Jillian episode are over 2 million.
In the spring of 2018, Newsweek and Buzzfeed published articles about her protocol. A local Ohio outlet WOIO interviewed Epperly on May 16, 2018. In the interview she said she charged $75 to help people with the protocol and accrued 6,500 clients in 2017.
“She admits Jilly Juice has been profitable. She consults with people for $75 an hour, and accrued 6,500 clients in 2017…
Epperly says she’s writing a new book about her experiences.
“I hope that people finally get the science behind what I’m doing, which is why I’m substantiating everything through pub med, proven evidence, academia. I hope that people will just open their minds and see the possibility,” she said.”‘
YouTuber powerhouse PewDiePie published a video about Jillian in August 2018 which garnered 12 million views.
By the time I entered the arena, the mainstream media had made Jillian a household name. Nothing I covered about Jillian was any different from the majority consensus in the media. We all believed her protocol was not only dangerous but also a complete scam.
For the record, I have covered Jillian multiple times on this site. However, nothing I have written about her has defamed or damaged her character. Instead, I have used public interviews, YouTube videos and Facebook posts by Jillian to source my content.
Sadly, the damage to her character has been done by her own words. By claiming to have a miracle product, she used the media to get exposure to help her profit. However, she might not have prepared for the backlash that has ensued.
In my journalist’s gut, I think Jillian believes her protocol will save the world. Unfortunately, she is unwilling to face the reality that sauerkraut juice is not a cure for anything.
As her empire has dwindled, her tactics have moved her attention from the protocol to lashing out at the media. Because I’m the smallest target, she picked me to sue. As a writer for Patheos, I am an independent contractor. Suing an independent contractor is easier than fighting a media giant like Newsweek or Buzzfeed.
By comparison, all of my articles by Jillian have probably been read in total less than 200,000 times. My dent in the Jillian game is pretty small next to the giants.
Jillian knows that I’m an easy target. She’s chosen to pick me because she thinks I will roll over and pay her. Sadly, she is mistaken. Her lawsuit is a desperate move to intimidate and silence anyone that speaks out against her. Due to Ohio law, she will not be able to win. By filing the frivolous suit, she has wasted Ohio taxpayer money.
Due to the on-going legal fight, I will likely not publish much more about Epperly. However, my choice is not based on my protection, but rather, Jillian’s empire is so tiny now that publicity for her is fanning a dying flame.
If you want to know more details about the lawsuit, I’ve done two YouTube videos on the topic. Make sure to subscribe and like the videos. If you have any words of support, I much appreciate it!
Being a journalist that covers pseudoscience means I am writing about volatile people. Sometimes exposing these people puts me at risk. However, I will not stop doing what I do and protecting others from harmful snake oil salespeople.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
Merchandise available at Teespring.
Buy Katie Joy a cup of Coffee.
Individuals wishing to help Katie with her expenses can become patrons. Patrons gain exclusive access to stories, new projects, and future books.