The Hall County State Court denied Haywood's plea to dismiss the case. When the Georgia Court of Appeals reviewed the decision, it explained that to prove defamation, the "false or defamatory statement" must be about the person bringing the lawsuit. Vickie had to show that people who knew her, or knew of her, "could reasonably have understood that the fictional character was a portrayal" of her.
Although Haywood argued that no one would have thought that SuSu could be a real person, the Court of Appeals disagreed. Vickie and SuSu had many similarities, it wrote, including the habit of being late and chain smoking, and the description of their hair color and childhood homes. Haywood argued that the differences between Vickie and SuSu were significant and clearly showed that Vickie is not the fictional character.
But the court held that the question of whether a reasonable person could conclude that Vickie was SuSu is a question of fact for a jury. The Court of Appeals sent the case back to the lower court for a jury trial.
In November, 2009, a jury awarded Vickie $100,000 in damages against Haywood for defamation.
Robin Gerber is a lawyer and the author of Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World's Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.