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Judge vacates dismissal of libel suit against Indiana TV station

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  1. Libel and Privacy
A libel suit against an Indiana TV station has been revived after a docket mishap surfaced, leading the judge to decide he'd…

A libel suit against an Indiana TV station has been revived after a docket mishap surfaced, leading the judge to decide he’d acted too quickly to dismiss the case.

The plaintiff, CanaRX Services, a Canadian pharmacy-benefits company, had earlier applied for an extended deadline to respond to WISH-TV’s motion to dismiss under the state’s anti-SLAPP statute. But the deadline extension got lost in the docketing system, Indiana Southern District Judge Larry McKinney wrote in his order vacating the dismissal. 

He said he was under the impression CanaRX had missed its deadline to file response in writing.

CanaRX attorney Joseph A. Morris said the judge’s order to dismiss cheated his client of the right to a full day in court. But now, he said, "the case goes on." 

CanaRX sued WISH-TV over an investigative report the station ran about fraudulent practices among Internet-based pharmaceutical providers. McKinney previously found that Indiana’s anti-SLAPP statute barred the lawsuit. The statute, with its acronym for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, aims to prevent the chilling effect of lawsuits that target the exercise of free speech.

The court will decide again on the anti-SLAPP issue after CanaRX submits its response to the motion to dismiss and WISH-TV has a chance to respond, said Dan Byron, the station’s attorney.