Newspaper owner's defamation suit against a reporter dismissed

Samantha Fredrickson | Libel | Feature | September 29, 2008

The defamation suit filed against an American Journalism Review writer over her coverage of a scandal at the Santa Barbara News-Press two years ago has been dismissed. 

The News-Press and its corporate owner, Ampersand Publishing, sued writer and Chapman University professor Susan Paterno for defamation after she wrote an article critiquing the newspaper’s operations.  

The Court of Appeals in California held earlier this summer that Ampersand had not shown any of Paterno’s statements were false, and remanded the case back to the trial court.  

In a victory for Paterno, the trial court last week agreed with the Court of Appeals, dismissing her case once and for all under the state’s Anti-SLAPP statute (SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.)  

“It’s a wonderful vindication for the First Amendment and for Susan,” her attorney Charles Tobin said. “This ruling should strengthen the abilities of California journalists to turn erroneous rulings around and lift the chill on their reporting."  

 A hearing is set for the end of October to determine attorney fees.