Candiace Dillard Bassett 'Grateful for Common Sense' as Michael Darby's Defamation Lawsuit Is Dismissed (Exclusive)

The 'Real Housewives of Potomac' star also thanked her legal team "for helping the plaintiff to get exactly what he deserves from me: absolutely nothing"

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Candiace Dillard Basset and Michael Darby
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Candiace Dillard Basset and Michael Darby

A judge in Virginia gave Candiace Dillard Bassett a stress-free start to 2024 last month, dismissing the defamation lawsuit she was facing from Michael Darby, the estranged husband of her Real Housewives of Potomac costar Ashley Darby.

First filed on Feb. 15, 2023, a dismissal with prejudice was issued in the case on Jan. 3, with a final order entered on Jan. 31. Michael, the court determined, was precluded from maintaining a lawsuit against Dillard Bassett based on a release that he signed to appear on the Bravo reality series.

When a case is dismissed with prejudice, it becomes a final judgment and may not be reasserted.

Dillard Bassett has remained mum about the suit, refusing to discuss the legal matter when her RHOP costars brought it up during filming for season 8. But now that it's over, she's breaking her silence to PEOPLE exclusively.

"I am incredibly grateful to God for protecting me," says the "Drive Back" singer, 37. "I am also grateful for common sense, the support of my family and my incredible legal team for helping the plaintiff to get exactly what he deserves from me: absolutely nothing."

Meanwhile, Dillard Basset's lawyers — Kenneth D. Bynum, Robert L. Jenkins and Madison N. Gibbs of Bynum & Jenkins Law — are also celebrating. "Bynum & Jenkins Law is honored to have represented Mrs. Bassett and assist in defending her name against these allegations," they tell PEOPLE in a statement.

PEOPLE reached out to Michael for comment.

VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Candiace Dillard Bassett
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Candiace Dillard Bassett

Related: 'RHOP' 's Candiace Dillard-Bassett Calls Gizelle Bryant 'a Calculated Slab of Misery' for Stoking Husband Drama

In his suit obtained by PEOPLE, Michael, 64, objected to claims Dillard Bassett made about his sex life in a season 7 episode. 

Michael's legal team argued in the case that Dillard Bassett's "demonstrated knowledge that her statements were salacious, imprudent, and/or would be harmful to Mr. Darby's reputation," and were "intentional and borne out of evident hatred and disdain [Dillard-Bassett] has for Mr. Darby."

They said the remarks prompted "public scorn, hatred, humiliation, ridicule, contempt and/or embarrassment" to and for Michael.

The former restaurateur filed his lawsuit in hopes to get $2 million in damages from Dillard Basset, according to the docs: $1 million of which were for compensatory damages and the other $1 million in punitive damages. Michael also wanted the R&B songstress to pay him interest, attorney's fees and associated costs.

Related: Candiace Dillard-Bassett Says 'RHOP' Rumors About Husband Chris Bassett 'Tested Me as a Wife'

<p>Getty</p> Ashley Darby and Michael Darby


Ashley Darby and Michael Darby

Dillard Bassett made her remarks on RHOP during a heated exchange with Ashley, as Ashley made claims about her husband, Chris Bassett.

Michael is still married to Ashley, 35, despite her announcement in April 2022 that they had separated after eight years of marriage. Neither has filed for divorce yet.

"I don't know what is holding me back," Ashley — who shares sons Dean, 4, and Dylan, 2, with Michael — told PEOPLE in November. "I've just been a little bit complacent about it"

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"If I'm honest, it's because there are benefits to being married," she admitted. "Emotionally, there's none. I think he's moved on, I've moved on, but I don't know... there are some benefits professionally and financially that he and I have. It's not big, but there are reasons that it's beneficial for us to be married."

She teased that might change soon, though. "[The] reality is, we just have to pull the plug and just do it," she said.

The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays (at 8 p.m. ET) on Bravo

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