A lawyer who’d been widely and scathingly criticized over his handling of a case — unfairly he thought — proceeded to sue bloggers and journalists for defamation, so many that the total of defendants reached 74. It’s over now, but a New York state judge declined to award sanctions, which may possibly say something about the difficulty of obtaining sanctions under today’s prevailing legal standards, especially in New York. [Tom Crane, San Antonio Employment Law Blog; Popehat ("Our legal system is so broken that it can take years to resolve even the most patently vexatious, harassing, and incompetently prosecuted lawsuits like this one.")]
P.S. “Loser pays would have been valuable here. Costs to each defendant would teach a memorable lesson.” [@erikmagraken]
Quoting Ken White at Popehat:
The blog Retraction Watch tracks, and probes, retractions in scientific journals. They say they do so because retractions are a “window into the scientific process,” because doing so helps create a repository of retractions and publicize them, because retractions can be the lead-in for a great story about misconduct, and because tracking retractions can help keep scientific journals honest.
Unsurprisingly, this does not make them popular among some of the scientists they cover. Last month a researcher at a well-known Texas cancer center menaced the site with a lawsuit, soon unleashing the Streisand Effect. And now, in a separate case, a pharmaceutical chemist is threatening to sue them because they reported on one journal’s “Expression of Concern” about one of his pieces, and in the terminology of scientific journals, an “Expression of Concern” is a different thing than a “Retraction,” which, he says, means that the website’s title is exposing him to defamation. Per Ken, this is not exactly the world’s most meritorious theory either.
Patrick at Popehat takes on the case of a beaded-necklace purveyor whose idea of how to respond to a dissatisfied customer leaves something to be desired (“We will send a copy of your e-mail and all your data to our lawyers. If You keep on with your defamations and write anything on blogs, forums or social networks, We will immediately start a lawsuit against You.”)
The casino magnate and political donor has now sued Wall Street Journal reporter Kate O’Keefe for libel over a December article. [TPM] Earlier on Adelson’s journalist-suing ways here and here.
In a default judgment, a federal judge in Florida has ruled that Haitian-American journalist Leo Joseph defamed the prime minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe, as well as a South Florida businessman, in Joseph’s reporting in Haiti-Observateur about the sale of a state telecommunications company. “‘Leo Joseph is hereby permanently restrained from publishing future communications to any third-parties concerning or regarding’ Lamothe and [Patrice] Baker ‘in either their professional, personal or political lives,” said the order from federal district judge Ursula Ungaro.” [AP/Gainesville Sun; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press]
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a Duluth physician was not defamed by a contributor to a consumer-review site who criticized his bedside manner and referred to the doctor as a “real tool.” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, ABA Journal, earlier here, etc.]
The disgraced cyclist, like quite a few celebrities (and non-celebrities), had filed defamation actions against persons over statements he had good reason to know were true. That’s not just a violation of his adversaries’ rights, but an inherently sanctionable use of the courts [Michael McCann/Sports Illustrated via Turkewitz; Emily Bazelon/Slate ("Armstrong 'sued so many people that by his own admission he can’t remember their names'")]
So is that prior restraint? [Washington Post on Virginia case, background; Brian Wolfman and Paul Alan Levy, Public Citizen] More: Ken at Popehat.
“Is It Libel to Say Someone Was Arrested When the Arrest Record Has Been Erased?” Last year the New Jersey Supreme Court said no in a case raising the same issue as to convictions, saying the law’s expungement provision
is not intended to create an Orwellian scheme whereby previously public information — long maintained in official records — now becomes beyond the reach of public discourse on penalty of a defamation action. Although our expungement statute generally permits a person whose record has been expunged to misrepresent his past, it does not alter the metaphysical truth of his past, nor does it impose a regime of silence on those who know the truth.
Now, however, a lawsuit filed in Connecticut seeks to assert similar liability as to mention of an erased arrest record. The state erasure statute provides that the person whose record is erased “shall be deemed to have never been arrested within the meaning of the general statutes with respect to the proceedings so erased and may so swear under oath.” Eugene Volokh finds the theory of liability constitutionally defective:
the First Amendment protects other people’s rights to talk about arrests that had — as a matter of historical fact — actually happened. A statute can’t rewrite history, and force others to pretend that something didn’t happen when in fact it did happen.
(& Above the Law)
A judge has dismissed another of the wave of lawsuits charging that law schools concealed evidence that placement rates, employment prospects and other relevant statistics were bleak for many graduates. The most recently dismissed case was against Chicago’s DePaul; earlier, judges threw out cases against Thomas Cooley, in Michigan, and New York Law School. [Caron, TaxProf; ABA Journal on Cooley] On the other hand, a California court will allow fraud suits to proceed against the University of San Francisco and Golden Gate law schools [Caron]
Meanwhile, critics have been sniping over some funny numbers at Rutgers-Camden [Paul Campos, Law School Scam; and more on an unrelated controversy in which an assistant law dean is hinting at legal action following unfavorable press coverage of her combined role as compliance officer and spouse for a New Jersey member of Congress]