Jones v. WorldNetDaily

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

04/01/2001

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Tennessee

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
Tennessee businessman Clark Jones sued WorldNetDaily.com, a socially conservative news and opinion website, and freelance reporters Charles C. Thompson II and Tony Hays for defamation in Tennessee state court, after WorldNetDaily.com published an article written by Thompson and Hays claiming that Jones... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

WorldNetDaily.com, Inc.; Charles C. Thompson II; Tony Hays; Center for Public Integrity; Ron Shank; Savannah Journal; Larry Brinton; Landmark Television of Tennessee/News Channel 5 Network; Charlotte Alexander; Decatur County Chronicle, L.L.C.; Rebec

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Location of Party: 

  • Tennessee

Location of Party: 

  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Oregon
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia

Legal Counsel: 

Larry Parrish (WND); Sam Cole (Thompson and Hays)
Description

Tennessee businessman Clark Jones sued WorldNetDaily.com, a socially conservative news and opinion website, and freelance reporters Charles C. Thompson II and Tony Hays for defamation in Tennessee state court, after WorldNetDaily.com published an article written by Thompson and Hays claiming that Jones had interfered with a criminal investigation, had been the subject of a law enforcement investigation into illegal drug trafficking, and was or had been involved in other criminal activities.  2d Am. Cmplt. ¶ 18.  Clark also sued the Center for Public Integrity, which had underwritten Thompson and Hays' reporting on the article and related investigative pieces, as well as other publications and broadcasters who repeated the claims made in the article.

During the course of the litigation, a Tennessee appeals court held that WorldNetDaily.com could not rely on statements of anonymous sources to make out its defense of truth without revealing the identity of those sources.  The Tennessee Supreme Court refused to hear the issue because WorldNetDaily.com did not take a proper appeal.

The parties settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in 2008.  As part of the settlement, the parties issued a joint statement, which said in relevant part:

Discovery has revealed to WorldNetDaily.com that no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated. Additionally, no document has been discovered that provides any verification that the statements written were true.

Factual discovery in the litigation and response from Freedom of Information Act requests to law enforcement agencies confirm Clark Jones' assertion that his name has never been on law enforcement computers, that he has not been the subject of any criminal investigation nor has he interfered with any investigation as stated in the articles. Discovery has also revealed that the sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context.

WorldNetDaily.com and its editors never intended any harm to Clark Jones and regret whatever harm occurred. WorldNetDaily.com has no verified information by which to question Mr. Jones' honesty and integrity, and having met him, has no claim or reason to question his honesty and integrity. WorldNetDaily.com wishes him well. (source)

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Broadcast
Website

Subject Area: 

  • Defamation
  • Shield Laws
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Tennessee

Source of Law: 

  • Tennessee

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Hardin County, Tennessee; Tennessee Court of Appeals; Tennessee Supreme Court

Court Type: 

State

Case Number: 

No. 3414 (trial court)

Relevant Documents: 

CMLP Information (Private)

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Worth noting that this is a case in which the court had said that WorldDailyNet could not use the statements of anonymous sources as part of a truth defense -- or, basically, that WDN would need to identify their sources if they wanted to present a truth defense. {MCS}