Published on:

Judge Dismisses Libel Lawsuit Against John Oliver — Top Chicago Defamation Libel and Slander Attorneys Near Schaumburg

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants all citizens the right to free and open speech. This is especially true of people in the media talking about public figures. The news couldn’t be the news (and it couldn’t be as effective as it is) without the ability to speak freely about public figures.

John Oliver, who isn’t even an American citizen, appeared to understand this fact better than Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy.

Last summer, Oliver made fun of Murray on a segment of his show, Last Week Tonight, in which Oliver, among other things, compared Murray to a villain in a series of comedy movies. Not only did the allusion depict Murray as evil, but the comparison to a character people laugh at implied that he is weak and ineffective. Oliver acknowledged on the show that Murray would probably try to sue them over the segment, but that he would not take back anything he had said.

Murray has, in fact, had a long history of filing allegedly frivolous lawsuits against people and companies that criticize him. Most of those lawsuits have been dismissed or settled outside of court, and while such intimidation tactics might work with some people, HBO (which made a point of saying it stood by Oliver and his show) is hardly a David to Murray’s Goliath. HBO is a successful company in its own right, and like any other media company, it is well aware of its own rights under the American Constitution.

Murray responded by trying to file a temporary restraining order against any rebroadcasting of the episode (as if it that could stop people from watching the video online, where it already has more than 9 million views). That attempt was unsuccessful.

Murray also sent a cease and desist letter, threatening to sue Oliver, his TV show, and HBO for defamation. Far from backing down, Murray’s letter had the opposite effect. Oliver reaffirmed his previous statements regarding Murray and continued to make fun of him, his business practices, and his alleged hypocrisy.

Murray followed through on his threat to file a defamation lawsuit in West Virginia against Oliver and his team. In addition to the charge of defamation, and dramatic language that accused Oliver of carrying out a planned attack on Murray’s reputation and character, the lawsuit also alleged Oliver’s segment had shortened Murray’s life as a result of his “Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.”

As expected, HBO filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, citing the First Amendment and claiming Murray and his legal team had failed to state a claim for their allegations against Oliver and HBO. Also as expected, Judge Cramer agreed with HBO that everything Oliver had said on his show was protected by the First Amendment. He, therefore, accepted the cable network’s motion with hardly any qualifications.

Oliver never stopped working on his show while the lawsuit was being filed, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see another Murray-related segment appear on his show, either now or later on down the line.

Our Schaumburg IL 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.

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 Evanston and Elmhurst who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline 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 thirty years of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business lawsuits 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 Lake Forest and Bannockburn have more than three 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 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 Western Springs and Indianhead Park, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.