"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is." – Winston Churchill
Until last week, a Minnesota blogger named John Hoff could have been forgiven for spurning the wisdom of Mr. Churchill, having been slapped with a $60,000 jury verdict for posting the truth (or “not false” facts) about a local man that may have cost him his job. But a state appellate court has found that Hoff will not have to pay a dime in damages since his statements and collateral conduct were protected by the First Amendment.
Jerry Moore, a former employee of the University of Minnesota who was hired to study foreclosures, brought this suit after Hoff, a.k.a. “Johnny Northside,” accused him in a 2009 blog post of being involved in a “high-profile fraudulent mortgage” and being “fired from [a previous position] for misconduct, (fistfight, cough cough).” There was also testimony in the underlying trial that Hoff asked an acquaintance named Donald Allen to get Moore terminated from his position. University officials did send a letter to Moore the day after Allen forwarded them Hoff’s cutting blog post, indicating that Moore’s “services would no longer be needed,” according to the Minnesota appellate court decision. Allen, who was also sued by Moore, settled before trial and later testified against Hoff, making claims that Hoff denied. read more »