Punitive damages

Texas Supreme Court: Corporations may suffer reputational damage

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | May 12, 2014
May 12, 2014

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that corporations – and not just individuals – may recover for reputational damage in defamation lawsuits.

Typically, defendants have to prove specific financial damage resulting from the defamatory statements, unless the type of defamation is considered “defamation per se,” in which case damages are presumed. One category of statements that are often considered defamatory per se are statements attacking a person’s job-related abilities or professional stature.

In Waste Management of Texas, Inc. v. Texas Disposal Systems Landfill, Inc., two companies competed for waste-disposal and landfill contracts with city governments. One company allegedly distributed an anonymous communication claiming the other company engaged in environmentally harmful behavior.

Ninth Circuit: Bloggers, public have same defamation protections as 'institutional press' on matters of public concern

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | January 17, 2014
January 17, 2014

The Ninth Circuit ruled today in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox that bloggers -- and other members of the public -- are governed by the same decades-old defamation jurisprudence as the "institutional press” when speaking about matters of public concern.

Crystal Cox wrote blog posts alleging a bankruptcy trustee and his company committed fraud, corruption, and money-laundering. The trustee, Kevin Padrick, and company, Obsidian Finance Group, sued for defamation.

One question before the court was whether the New York Times v. Sullivan and Gertz v. Robert Welch line of cases applied to Cox, as a blogger, or whether the rules set forth under those cases only applied to the “institutional press.”

Court rules that scientific articles are protected from defamation suits

Amy Zhang | Libel | News | June 28, 2013
June 28, 2013

A federal appeals court panel in New York ruled this week that scientific articles are considered "protected opinion" in a defamation suit between two rival drug companies.

Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch, who wrote the 18-page opinion for a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (2nd Cir.), concluded that a scientific article published in the Journal of Perinatology comparing the effectiveness of similar drugs was protected under the First Amendment.

New Jersey Supreme Court limits libel damages, distinguishes online speech

Raymond Baldino | Libel | News | May 17, 2012
May 17, 2012

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a defamation suit over online accusations of child sexual abuse could still proceed, even though the plaintiff could not show he was harmed.

The decision upheld a 2010 appeals court ruling that New Jersey First Amendment attorneys hoped would lead to a change in the law by the state's Supreme Court.

Reporter's testimony wrongly excluded, Eighth Circuit rules

Chris Healy | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | January 4, 2012
January 4, 2012

The court could have compelled a reporter to testify as a witness in a patient's lawsuit against her plastic surgeons who handed over her partially nude photographs to a Missouri newspaper, a federal court of appeals has ruled.

Colo. Supreme Court ruling could increase punitive damages

Chris Healy | Libel | Feature | December 16, 2011
December 16, 2011

A ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court could result in higher punitive damages for libel defendants in that state. In a decision released this week, the court clarified how interest rates will be factored into assessing punitive damages.

Minn. TV station liable for $1 million in defamation suit

Chris Healy | Libel | Feature | November 8, 2011
November 8, 2011

In what may be the largest defamation verdict in Minnesota history, a jury found that a Minneapolis TV news station acted with "constitutional malice" and awarded a naturopathic healer $1 million.

The jury found that the ABC news affiliate, KSTP, acted with reckless disregard for the truth when it ran a report more than two years ago about healer Susan Anderson and advice she allegedly gave her client, Cheryl Blaha.

Florida hospital must pay $5 million to doctor in slander suit

Cristina Abello | Libel | Quicklink | March 31, 2010
March 31, 2010

A Florida appellate court this week ruled that a hospital whose chief executive stated that a former employee was not even fit to perform surgery on a dog is liable for punitive damages – to the tune of $5 million.