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One Portion of Lawyer’s Libel Suit Remains Alive

Companies will try anything to get the attention of their audience, and in today’s Digital Age, that can include, according to a recent defamation lawsuit’s allegations, utilizing various user names to post comments on their own blog posts.

The blog post involved in the current lawsuit was posted on Jezebel and pertained to another defamation lawsuit filed by Meanith Huon against Above the Law for how it reported his acquittal from accusations of sexual assault. The comments section of the Jezebel article included an allegation that, despite his acquittal, Huon was still a rapist and should be referred to as such.  Huon denies these allegations and contends they are defamatory.

Huon responded by filing a second defamation lawsuit, this time against Jezebel for the blog post, its headline, as well as some of the statements that were made in the post’s comments section which he claims are false.

Because bloggers only have limited control over the comments that get posted on their websites, and because the point of the comments is to promote free and open discussion, they are protected. The comments themselves are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Communications Decency Act protects online publishers from allegations of defamation when it comes to comments posted on their site by third-party users.

But Huon is alleging the defamatory comments were not made by third-party users. Instead, in his lawsuit against Jezebel, Huon alleges the defamatory comments may have been posted by employees of Gawker in an attempt to make their comments section profitable.

As evidence for his allegations, Huon pointed to an article published by Reuters that said Gawker had a plan to make its commenting section profitable by creating a system that would appeal to advertisers. Although this type of business practice is not illegal in and of itself, if Huon’s allegations prove to have a solid foundation, then he might be able to hold Gawker legally responsible for at least some of the comments that were posted on its website.

In 2014, the Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed some of Huon’s claims against Above the Law and all of his claims against Jezebel. Above the Law later settled the remaining claims outside of court, but Huon appealed the court’s decision to dismiss all his claims against Jezebel. The case went before the Seventh Circuit Court, which upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the allegations of defamation against Jezebel for the story and its headline.

But the circuit court revived Huon’s claims of defamation against Jezebel as they related to the site’s comments section. The court’s opinion in the case, which was written by Judge Ann Claire Williams, noted that Huon’s allegations seemed sufficiently likely to give him the right to pursue his claims in discovery.

Because they are tied to Huon’s claims of defamation, the Seventh Circuit Court also revived his allegations against Jezebel false light invasion of privacy and the intention to inflict emotional harm on Huon.

Facing a lawsuit is always an extremely stressful situation, especially when the allegations are as sensitive as sexual assault. But the stress can be compounded by people spreading misinformation about the lawsuit, even after the defendant has been acquitted by all charges. It’s no wonder Huon is eager to defend his name and reputation whenever possible.

Our Chicago libel and slander lawyers concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases including cases representing a high profile athlete against a well known radio shock jock, a consumer sued by a large car dealer in federal court for negative internet reviews and videos, one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired, a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois, a security officer who was sued for allegedly criticizing a fellow officer.

Our Chicago defamation attorneys¬†defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Elmhurst and Lombard who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and off line media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.

Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over a quarter of century of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business law suits involving injunctions, and TROS, defamation, libel and covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud or defamatory attacks on their business and reputations.

DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s DuPage County defamation and slander lawyers near Waukegan and Gurnee have more than two and half decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Naperville, and Joliet, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.

If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business on line at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at (877) 990-4990 or online by filling out our contact us form.