Defamation

Dan Snyder is butthurt, SLAPP suit ensues, Irony meter pegged

Washington Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, seems to have awfully thin skin for a guy who owns a sports team named after a racial insult.

Snyder filed a frivolous defamation suit against the Washington City Paper ("WCP") based upon an article "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder."

Snyder accuses the WCP of spreading "lies, half-truths, innuendo, and anti-Semitic imagery" to defame him, seeking $2 million in damages.  The amount is split between two claims, the first for defamation and the second for false light.  The "anti-semitic imagery" he complains of is a crude addition of horns, a unibrow and Anton LaVey-esque goatee to Snyder's photograph in the WCP, which can be seen here.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

New Conference for Internet Law Scholars

Call For Papers:

The High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law and the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School are pleased to announce a new annual works-in-progress series for Internet Law scholarship. The inaugural event will be held at Santa Clara University on March 5, 2011. Thereafter, the event will rotate between NYLS and SCU each Spring semester.

Subject Area: 

Federici v Pignotti et al

Date: 

12/17/2010

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Monica Pignotti, Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, Linda Rosa, Larry Sarner, Advocates for Children in Therapy, John Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

Virginia Eastern District Court, Alexandria

Case Number: 

1:2010cv01418

Legal Counsel: 

Amy Owen, Kirstin Zech, Sarah Bagley

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Forum
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Virginia Psychologist Ronald S. Federici is suing multiple parties from multiple states (Florida, New Jersey, Nebraska, Colorado) for defamation, conspiracy, and tortious interference. Defendants are authors of blogs, forum comments, and websites that were critical of his writings and practices. Plaintiff has also named John Does 1-10, alleging conspiracy with unidentified anonymous bloggers and others.
Public documents on this case are available via Pacer.

Update:

3/28/11 -  The court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The court also granted the motion of defendants Pignotti and Mercer to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

5/31/11 - After the claims against the named defendants were dismissed, Federici moved to dismiss without prejudice the claims against the John Doe defendants.

6/1/11 - The court granted Federici's motion to dismiss the remaining claims against the John Does. 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Reit v. Yelp

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

03/04/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Yelp! Inc. and John Doe, aka "Michael S."

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York

Case Number: 

6005551/2010

Legal Counsel: 

Marc J. Randazza and Jessica S. Christensen - Randazza Legal Group (for Michael S.)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

Glenn Reit, a Manhattan dentist, sued Yelp! and John Doe (Michael S.) for defamation and Yelp! for deceptive acts and practices under New York’s General Business Law § 349 and § 350.  

According to his complaint, as of May 2009, Dr. Reit's Yelp page had 11 reviews: 10 favorable and 1 negative review from a user named "Michael S."  Dr. Reit alleges the Michael S. posting was defamatory because it included "statements that his office is 'small,' 'old' and 'smelly,' and 'the equipment is old and dirty.'  Dr. Reit alleges that Michael S.'s post caused him to lose 5-11 calls per day.  

When Dr. Reit complained to Yelp about the review, he claims that Yelp removed all of the positive reviews and kept only Michael S.'s post. Eventually, that post was removed too. Dr. Reit argues that Yelp removed the positive posts as part of Yelp's alleged scheme to get business owners to pay for advertising.

In addition to monetary damages, Dr. Reit sought an order requiring Yelp to delete all references to him and his dental practice from Yelp.com. The court initial granted a temporary restraining order, but ultimately dismissed the claims against Yelp based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The defamation claim against Michael S. remains pending.  

Update:

10/25/2010 - Defendant Michael S. filed a Petition to Quash Out-of-State Sub Duces Tecum and Request for Sanctions in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco

11/22/2010 - Plaintiff filed Opposition to the Petition and Request for Sanctions

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

User Feedback

North Summit Company, et. al v. Edward L. Petersen, et. al.

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

01/27/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Edward L. Petersen

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Second Judicial District Court of Nevada

Case Number: 

CV09-00238

Legal Counsel: 

pro se

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

North Summit Company, LLC has sued Edward L. Petersen for publishing anonymous comments on ApartmentRatings.com. Plaintiffs have submitted no proof that Defendant is the party responsible for the postings, many of which were published as many as five years before Defendant first rented from Plaintiffs.

A motion for summary judgment has been filed, and is pending.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

When Art Imitates Life: Suing for Defamation in Fiction

CMLP received an email from a novelist asking us how far she can take the advice, "write what you know." Would she risk being sued for libel if she based a character in her fictional work on a person she knows and dislikes in real life? Could she be held accountable if her fictional work were actually semi-autobiographical and described not only her own real-life actions, but also those taken by others?

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Davis v. Avvo, Inc.

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

08/26/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Avvo, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

Federal
State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida, Civil Division; U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida; U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

Case Number: 

10-12785CI11 (Fla. state); 8:10-cv-02352 (Fla. fed.); 2:11-cv-01571 (Wash. fed.)

Legal Counsel: 

Gregg D. Thomas, Susan Tillotson Bunch, Paul R. McAdoo, Thomas & LoCicero PL

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Florida attorney Larry Joe Davis, Jr. filed a complaint in Florida state court against Avvo, Inc.  Avvo operates a website, www.avvo.com, that serves as a social networking site for attorneys and doctors.  The site also allows members of the public to research attorneys by maintaining profile pages for individual attorneys on which Avvo provides information about the attorney's practice and a numerical rating for the attorney.  The profile pages also allow members of the public to post comments about the attorney.  Avvo does not permit attorneys to withdraw or to shut down their profiles after initially "claiming" the profile.

Davis claims that Avvo (1) defamed him in the information contained in his attorney profile, including allegedly incorrect information regarding the nature of his law practice and his level of public recognition, (2) engaged in the unauthorized commercial use of his likeness by posting a photo of Davis on the profile page, and (3) engaged in unlawful trade practices by placing allegedly false information on Davis's profile page, requiring him to "claim" the page in order to correct the information, and then refusing to allow him to remove the page because it had been claimed.

Updates:

  •  9-14-2010: Davis files an Amended Complaint, deleting his claims for libel and replacing them with claims for false light invasion of privacy and false advertising based upon the alleged misrepresentation of his practice area.
  • 10-19-2010: Avvo removes the case to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on the basis of diversity of citizenship.
  • 4-25-2011: Davis files his Third Amended Complaint.
  • 5-23-2011: Avvo moves to strike Davis's Third Amended Complaint.
  • 5-30-2011: Avvo moves to transfer venue to the Western District of Washington, arguing that Davis agreed to the website's Terms of Use which include a choice of venue provision naming the Washington district.
  • 7-7-2011: The court denies as moot Avvo's motion to strike the Third Amended Complaint.
  • 9-13-2011: The court grants Avvo's motion to transfer venue to the Western District of Washington.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Fitzgerald v. Maslona

Date: 

06/02/2010

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Helen Maslona

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Cook County

Case Number: 

2010-M1-500855

Legal Counsel: 

Deborah A. Grimm

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On June 2, 2010, Michael Fitzgerald, owner of Chicago's All Fields of Concrete Construction, filed a defamation lawsuit against Helen Maslona in Illinois state court.  The lawsuit seeks $10,000 in damages and court costs.

According to news reports, the lawsuit is based on a negative review of the company submitted by Maslona to the popular consumer review website Angie's List.  Maslona had contacted All Fields of Concrete Construction to request an estimate for performing work, based on the company's Angie's List profile which indicated that Maslona's neighborhood was one of the ones serviced by the company.  Upon being informed that the company did not accept work in her neighborhood, Maslona allegedly submitted a negative review of the company to Angie's List, giving it an "F."

Court documents indicate that an attorney has appeared in the case on behalf of Maslona, and has filed a motion on her behalf. 

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

N.C. Judge Unmasks Pseudonymous Blog Commenters

A North Carolina trial court recently ordered the editor of the local community blog Home in Henderson to turn over the names and addresses of six pseudonymous commenters who allegedly defamed former Vance County commissioner Thomas S. Hester, Jr.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Hester v. Does

Date: 

04/20/2010

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John Doe 1, aka Beautiful Dreamer; John Doe 2, aka Confused; John Doe 3, aka Fatboy; John Does 4-20

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

North Carolina Superior Court, Vance County

Case Number: 

10-cvs-361

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In April 2010, Thomas S. Hester, Jr., a former Vance County commissioner running for reelection, sued 20 John Does for defamation in North Carolina Superior Court over comments appearing on the Home in Henderson blog. The comments in question were attached to a blog post entitled "Arrest Made in Elder Abuse Case," which appeared on Home in Henderson eight months prior. According to Hester's complaint, the commenters used screen names like "Beautiful Dreamer" and "Fatboy" to make false statements suggesting that Hester was a slumlord and should be jailed.

Hester served a subpoena on Jason A. Feingold, editor of the blog, commanding him to appear for a deposition and to turn over identifying information for the commenters. Feingold and Home in Henderson filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing that both the North Carolina shield law and the First Amendment protect the commenters' identifies from disclosure.

On June 28, 2010, Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr. found that the statements of six of the twenty commenters were actionable and enforced the subpoena as to these commenters. The court quashed the subpoena with respect to the remaining commenters. Three days later, Robert D. Gupton identified himself on a local radio show as "Point Keeper," one of the six commenters.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Hester v. Home in Henderson

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Date: 

04/08/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jason A. Feingold; Home in Henderson, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

North Carolina Superior Court, Vance County

Case Number: 

10-cvs-361

Legal Counsel: 

C. Amanda Martin - Everett, Gaskins, Hancock & Stevens, LLP

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

On April 8, 2010, attorneys for former Vance County commissioner Thomas S. Hester, Jr. served a subpoena on Jason A. Feingold, editor of the Home in Henderson blog, commanding him to appear for a deposition and to turn over identifying information for 20 blog commenters. The comments in question were attached to Feingold's blog post entitled "Arrest Made in Elder Abuse Case," which appeared on Home in Henderson eight months prior. According to Hester's complaint, the commenters used screen names like "Beautiful Dreamer" and "Fatboy" to make false statements suggesting that Hester was a slumlord and should be jailed.

Feingold and Home in Henderson filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing that both the North Carolina shield law and the First Amendment protect the commenters' identifies from disclosure.

On June 28, 2010, Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr. found that the statements of six of the twenty commenters were actionable and enforced the subpoena as to these commenters. The court quashed the subpoena with respect to the remaining commenters. Three days later, Robert D. Gupton identified himself on a local radio show as "Point Keeper," one of the six commenters.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Confederate Motors, Inc. v. Gawker Media LLC

Date: 

05/14/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Wes Siler; Grant Ray; Jalopnik.com; Gawker Media LLC

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama

Case Number: 

09-CV-00949

Legal Counsel: 

Burr & Forman LLP & Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (for Gawker defendants)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

On May 14, 2009, Confederate Motors filed a lawsuit in federal district court against Gawker Media, Jalopnik.com, Grant Ray, and Wes Siler for statements in an article titled "Confederate Motorcycles: MotoTerminators Come to Life," published online at Jalopnik.com on April 9, 2009. The complaint sought an injunction and damages from tortious interference with business relations, negligence, libel per se, and libel per quod.

Confederate Motors is in the business of manufacturing and selling motorcycles. Gawker Media is an online media network and owns Jalopnik.com, which is described as a website for car enthusiasts. The defendant Wes Siler wrote the article in dispute and is a road-test editor and writer for the Jalopnik website. (According to the complaint, defendant Grant Ray was a former employee of Confederate Motors and a business partner of Wes Siler.)

The article at issue stated that Confederate Motor's products were unreliable and that the business was unable to do business in New York because of numerous lawsuits from disgruntled customers.

Upon Gawker's motion to dismiss, the trial court dismissed the libel per se claim (the alleged statements did not reach libel per se because they did not impute dishonesty and corruption to the plaintiff) and the negligence claim (Confederate Motors did not identify a duty owed by Gawker). The parties subsequently settled and the case was dismissed with prejudice on June 7, 2010.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

We Love a Happy Ending...

Earlier this week, we received the good news that travel blogger extraordinaire Christopher Elliott sucessfully resolved the defamation lawsuit brought against him by Palm Coast Travel.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Subject Area: 

T&J Towing v. Kurtz

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

04/05/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Justin Kurtz

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

9th Circuit Court for the County of Kalamazoo

Case Number: 

2010-0206-NZ

Legal Counsel: 

Christopher B. Vreeland - Law Office of Christopher B. Vreeland; Dani K. Liblang - Liblang & Associates, P.C.

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On April 5, 2010, T&J Towing of Kalamazoo, Michigan, filed a defamation lawsuit  against Justin Kurtz, a 21-year-old student at Western Michigan University. The dispute revolves around Kurtz's creation of a Facebook page called “Kalamazoo Residents against T&J Towing.” T&J seeks $750,000 in damages and a court order that Kurtz “immediately cease and desist any further libelous and slanderous written claims” about the company.

According to press reports, Kurtz created the page days after T&J towed his car from the parking lot of his apartment complex. On the page, Kurtz claims that T&J removed his parking permit and improperly towed his car.  As of the time of writing, the Facebook group had over 13,800 members, many of whom have posted comments about their own negative experiences with the company.

The complaint alleges that Kurtz "has falsely and publicly claimed that Plaintiffs have towed vehicles where no violation has occurred and which claims are untrue." Cmpt. ¶ 4.  It also suggests that Kurtz is responsible for the postings of other Facebook users, alleging that Kurtz "has absolutely no way of knowing whether or not all of the written submissions to his website have any truth or validity." Id.¶ 7.

Kurtz filed an answer on April 30, 2010 and asserted counterclaims for violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act and abuse of process.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

CMLP Notes: 

6/4 2:30pm: Here is a first try. I had trouble with the paragraph breaks in the description section. I tried rich text and html. MH

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Court Filings

Hate Mongers and Tunnel Rats are Entitled to Free Speech, Too

It's often said that bad cases make bad law.  In the case of a decision issued by a New Jersey state court back in December, a bad case has also made for bad law commentary.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Generex v. TheStreet.com

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

04/06/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Adam Feuerstein and TheStreet.com, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On April 6, 2010, Generex, a biotechnology company, filed a lawsuit in state court against TheStreet.com, a financial news website, and Adam Feuerstein, a senior columnist, for statements published on the website's Biotech Stock Mailbag about the company.

Generex has been in the process of developing and seeking regulatory approval for Oral-Lyn, an insulin spray treatment for Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes. In two posts published on March 19, 2010 and March 26, 2010, Mr. Feuerstein wrote that "none of the Oral-Lyn data collected by Generex has been peer-reviewed by credible medical journals" and that "the company is using science and the quest to develop an alternative insulin delivery method not to actually help diabetics but as a ruse to perpetuate a 15 year-long stock promotion scheme."

In the complaint, Generex claims that these statements constitute libel, libel per se, product disparagement, and injurious falsehood, and is seeking $250,000,000 in damages.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Theriot v. Does

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

05/07/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John Does 1-100

Type of Party: 

Individual
Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson

Case Number: 

687.191

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

On May 7, 2010, the Parish of Jefferson in Louisiana and its interim President, Steve Theriot, filed a lawsuit in state court against unnamed Does for defamation.  According to the Complaint, the Does "systematically published messages on the Internet using the forums and blogs on Nola.com and Slabbed.wordpress.com," which comments were allegedly defamatory.  (Complaint ¶ 5)  The Complaint alleges that the defamatory material included statements "that members of Jefferson Parish Government such as Mr. Theriot are unethical and deceitful." (Complaint ¶ 6)  The Complaint seeks "[d]amages for embarrassment and emotional suffering[; . . . d]amages for loss of personal reputation; [. . . and d]amages for loss of business opportunity," as well as costs and attorneys' fees.

The same day the Complaint was filed, Plaintiffs issued a subpoena to New Orleans Net LLC, the operator of the Nola.com website, seeking the identities of the posters using 11 Nola.com screen names.

UPDATE: According to news reports, Theriot has dismissed the lawsuit.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

RSS

Milo v. Martin

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

01/01/2006

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Guy Martin, Sandy Martin, Bill Cochran, Jr., Melvin Douglas

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

284th District Court (Montgomery County) Texas; Court of Appeals of Texas, 9th District (Beaumont) (on appeal)

Case Number: 

06-10-10390 CV (trial); 09-09-00145-CV (on appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

John Paul Hopkins

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Walter Milo and Anthony Shelton sued Guy Martin, Bill Cochran, Melvin Douglas, and Sandy Martin, the editors and coordinator of The Conroe Watchdog (collectively "The Watchdog"), a website that describes itself as providing "[t]he unfiltered truth about Conroe politics and your tax dollars."

According to the court on appeal, Milo and Shelton sued for comments posted in October 2006 by anonymous users on a portion of the website titled "Guest Book." These comments referred to Shelton as a "pulpit pimp" and that he drove a $90,000 Hummer, according to the Houston Community Newspapers (HCN). Also according to HCN, the comments also contained allegations that Milo committed a drug crime in 2005 and "cut a deal" with the district attorney, reducing his sentence to probation.

The trial court granted The Watchdog's no-evidence motion for summary judgment in December 2008. The summary judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeals of Texas on April 29, 2010, which pointed to lack of evidence that the anonymous posts were created by The Watchdog and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. According to HCN, this case was the last of three lawsuits claiming defamation against The Watchdog to be resolved. Dixon v. Martin ended in July 2008 when a jury ruled for The Watchdog (see Legal Threat Entry) and a third lawsuit filed by Rigby Owen, Jr. was withdrawn in October 2009.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Fisher v. Offit

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

12/23/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Paul Offit; Amy Wallace; Conde Nast Publications

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Media Company

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Case Number: 

09-CV-1398

Legal Counsel: 

Trichilo, Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, P.C. (for Defendant Dr. Offit); Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz (for Defendants Conde Nast Publications and Amy Wallace)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

On December 23, 2009 Barbara Loe Fisher filed a complaint in federal district court of Virginia against Dr. Paul Offit, Conde Nast Publications (the publisher of Wired Magazine) and Amy Wallace (a writer for Wired) for defamation, seeking damages of $1 million.

Ms. Fisher is a public speaker, advocate and founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to the prevention of vaccine injuries and deaths through public education." Dr. Paul Offit is a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on immunology and vaccines. In a profile of Dr. Offit that ran in the November 2009 issue of Wired Magazine, Amy Wallace quoted Dr. Offit and wrote:

"Kaflooey theories" make him crazy, especially if they catch on. Fisher, who has long been the media's go-to interview for what some in the autism arena call "parents rights," makes him particularly nuts, as in "You just want to scream." The reason? "She lies," he says flatly. "Barbara Loe Fisher inflames people against me. And wrongly. I'm in this for the same reason she is. I care about kids.

In the complaint, Ms. Fisher argued that the statement "she lies" constituted libel per se because it portrayed her as a "person lacking honesty and integrity, making her a person to be shunned or excluded by those who seek information and opinion. . . ." (Compl. ¶ 29)

The judge dismissed the claim against all three defendants on March 10, 2010, writing that "a remark by one of the key participants in a heated public health debate stating that his adversary ‘lies' is not an actionable defamation." As to Dr. Offit, given that the context of the statement was of an "emotional and highly charged debate about an important public issue," the statement was understood as an "outpouring of exasperation" and was a protected expression of opinion. For Ms. Wallace and Conde Nast Publications, the "impassioned response by Defendant Offit toward Plaintiff was itself illustrative of the rough-and-tumble nature of the controversy over childhood inoculations and therefore worthy of mention of the Wired article, which sought to highlight, among other things, the intense nature of the vaccine debate."  Slip Op., No. 09-CV-1398 (E.D. Va. Mar. 10, 2010).

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Pages