Libel

This section covers the state law governing libel suits. The standards governing such suits are influenced by many things, including whether the subject of a story is a public figure or public official. This also covers the defenses to libel suits, including the "fair report" privilege, the opinion defense and anti-SLAPP laws.

N.Y. judge dismisses portion of coach's wife's libel suit against ESPN

Lilly Chapa | Libel | News | February 19, 2013
News
February 19, 2013

A New York judge dismissed a portion of a libel suit against ESPN because the statements in question were reported from court documents and therefore protected under the state's fair report privilege.

Defamation suit against Texas man dismissed under state anti-SLAPP law

Lilly Chapa | Libel | News | February 12, 2013
News
February 12, 2013

A vocal Jacinto City, Texas citizen cannot be sued for defamation after repeatedly accusing a police officer of corruption and calling for his firing during city council meetings, a judge ruled Monday, relying on a state anti-SLAPP statute.

Harris County District Judge Elaine Palmer threw out the defamation suit three days after a hearing explored whether Jacinto City Police Sgt. Dennis Walker could sue resident Larry Schion.

Jennings v. Wallbuilder Presentations Inc.

February 12, 2013

David Barton, president of Wallbuilder Presentations Inc., sued Petitioners Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau for defamation in connection with a video the pair — who ran for the Texas State Board of Education in 2010 — produced about a controversy involving state school curriculum guidelines. Jennings and Bell-Metereau filed a motion to dismiss Barton's case under the Texas Citizens Participation Act.

Minn. Supreme Court finds negative online comments were opinions, not defamatory facts

Lilly Chapa | Libel | News | February 5, 2013
News
February 5, 2013

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that negative online reviews about a local neurologist were not defamatory and are protected under the First Amendment.

District court judge dismisses defamation claim over N.Y. Attorney General's press release

Jack Komperda | Libel | News | January 15, 2013
News
January 15, 2013

A New York federal judge has ruled that a dentist acquitted of fraudulently billing Medicaid for services he never performed will not be able to pursue a defamation claim against prosecutors who touted his indictment for a "million dollar Medicaid theft" in a press release.

Brooklyn dentist Leonard Morse was indicted in 2006 for larceny and ultimately acquitted the following year. He then sued the New York Attorney General's Office for defamation and other civil rights violations.

Washington state appeals court upholds dismissal of defamation case against Seattle news station

Jack Komperda | Libel | News | January 15, 2013
News
January 15, 2013

A Washington state appellate court on Monday upheld the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit filed by a Seattle transitional housing service against a local television news station, while avoiding ruling on a challenge to the constitutionality of the state's anti-SLAPP law.

The defamation suit stems from stories televised in 2010 by KIRO TV and later published on its website detailing the practice of U.S. Mission Corporation in using residents of its transitional shelters, some of whom had criminal backgrounds, to solicit door-to-door donations.

Businessman can pursue defamation suit without showing proof of monetary loss, N.Y. appeals court rules

Lilly Chapa | Libel | News | December 14, 2012
News
December 14, 2012

A man accused of throwing a severed horse head in a local politician's pool does not have to prove monetary loss to pursue a defamation lawsuit against his online accusers, an appellate court in New York ruled.

New York court dismisses libel suit against the New York Daily News

Monika Fidler | Libel | News | December 7, 2012
News
December 7, 2012

A New York judge this week dismissed a libel lawsuit by a Brooklyn judge against the New York Daily News and one of its former columnists.

Courts confront online reviews

Review sites encourage opinions and critiques, but courts must decide if the information is protected as opinion
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AP Photo/Jim Mone

Marshall Tanick, above, represents Dr. David McKee in a suit against McKee’s patient’s son for defamation after critical remarks about the doctor were posted on rating websites.

Dennis Laurion did not like the way a Minnesota doctor treated his father after the elderly man suffered a stroke, and he wanted to make sure others knew about his family’s experience.

Obsidian Finance Group, LLC, et al., v. Crystal Cox

October 17, 2012

Kevin Padrick and Obsidian Finance Group, LLC sued blogger Crystal Cox, claiming that Cox libeled them through a series of postings on her Internet blog. The trial court jury ruled in favor of Padrick and Obsidian and returned a $2.5 million verdict in their favor. Cox moved for a new trial, which was denied. The decision in the trial court below turned on whether she was a journalist and whether her speech involved a matter of public concern – both of which affects the standard of liability under Oregon law.