Articles Posted in Defamation, Libel and Slander

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With all the talk around Roy Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct around young girls, including a Pulitzer-Prize winning article in The Washington Post, it’s hard to believe one actor’s prank could make much of a difference, but Moore alleges it did.

For an episode of his show, Who Is America? that aired on July 29th, Sacha Baron Cohen invited Moore to Washington D.C. under the pretense of an award for Moore’s support of Israel. Instead, Moore met with Cohen disguised as his character, Erran Morad, an Israeli “anti-terrorism expert.”

During a sit-down between “Morad” and Moore, Morad told Moore about a particular enzyme that pedophiles secrete at much higher rates than normal people. He said that Israelis had developed a machine that could detect this enzyme, with the idea being that they could install the machines at school entrances to alert staff of any pedophiles entering the building.

Morad then produced what he claimed was one of these machines, saying it would beep if waved over a pedophile but would remain silent if waved over a normal person. Of course, the “machine” was rigged to beep when waved over Moore, at which point Morad pretended to be confused, claiming the machine must be malfunctioning and asking Moore if the jacket he was wearing belonged to him and whether he had loaned it to anyone recently.

Moore denied the insinuation that he’s a pedophile, pointing to his 33-year-long marriage as evidence and alleging he had never been accused of such things. He eventually ended the interview and left, saying he supported Israel, but not the kind of antics to which he was being subjected. Continue reading

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As Alex Jones prepares to deal with the shutdown of several of his social media pages (including four Facebook pages and his Infowars YouTube channel), he also has to contend with multiple defamation lawsuits that have been filed against him, at least one of which will soon be moving forward.

Judge Scott Jenkins of the District Court for the 53rd District in Austin, Texas, denied Jones’s motion to dismiss the case. Jones claimed his hateful speech was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but Judge Jenkins disagreed. Defamation is not protected under the First Amendment, and if the plaintiffs can prove their claims of financial damages as a result of Jones’s defamatory statements, then they’ll have a solid case for defamation.

In his request to have the lawsuit dismissed, Jones included a request that the families suing him pay him $100,000 for the legal fees he has incurred in defending himself against their lawsuit.

While defendants are often made to pay legal fees if a court rules against them, it’s almost unheard of for a court to require a plaintiff to pay for a defendant’s legal fees. As the situation currently stands for Jones, not only will he not get that $100,000, but he might have to pay more than $1 million in damages to Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, the parents of six-year-old Noah, who was one of the children gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Jones has repeatedly called the mass shooting a hoax and accused victims and family members of being actors who are paid by the government and gun control lobbyists to carry out their anti-gun conspiracy. Continue reading

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The former president of the College of DuPage won a victory in his federal court appeal against the trustees who ousted him. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that his employment contract was valid under Illinois law.

Robert Breuder was hired as president of the Glen Ellyn, Illinois-based community college for a four-year term beginning in 2008. The college’s board of trustees later extended his contract through 2019. In 2015, newly elected trustees, accusing Breuder of misconduct, discharged him without notice or a hearing. The board denied his severance pay and retirement benefits.

Breuder filed a complaint in Illinois federal court on state and federal grounds, accusing the board of breach of contract, deprivation of property without due process of law, and defamatory statements.

Public employees who serve pursuant to a contract are considered to have a property right in their job and generally must be afforded a hearing before termination.

The board obtained the dismissal of the complaint on the grounds that Breuder never had a valid employment contract.

The crux of the board’s argument was that under Illinois law dating back over a century, a governmental body whose members serve limited terms may not enter into contracts that extend beyond those terms (Millikin v. Edgar County, 142 Ill. 528 (1892)). The board that originally hired Breuder contained members whose terms expired the following year. Therefore, the defendants reasoned, both the original four-year contract and the extensions were invalid. Continue reading

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The video of Jason Spencer walking backward with his pants down while screaming “America!” was widely viewed and mocked after it aired on Sacha Baron Cohen’s show, “Who Is America?” While it’s certainly embarrassing for Spencer, who later resigned his position as a Georgia state lawmaker, is it worthy of a lawsuit?

Sacha Baron Cohen is no stranger to getting sued by people who appear on screen with him. His movies and TV shows tend to poke fun at people and put them in a less-than-flattering light, so it’s never a surprise when they become upset after seeing themselves on screen. The latest round of lawsuits looks like it might come from several politicians who appeared on Cohen’s show, “Who Is America?” although it’s unclear exactly what their claims will be. Some of them have already made public comments saying they’ll pursue all legal remedies, but no lawsuits have yet been filed.

There are a few problems with these people trying to sue Cohen and/or the show’s producers. The first is the high probability that they all signed release agreements. While one upset politician has admitted to having signed a release, another said he doesn’t remember, but that it’s likely that he did. Continue reading

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In August some major online content distributors, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Apple, started removing Alex Jones’s Infowars content from their platforms for allegedly violating their policies. It made sense for Jones’s staff to delete some of the offensive material in order to get his content back onto those major platforms so he could get back in front of his audience. But because he is also facing a defamation lawsuit, deleting that material could be considered destroying evidence, which is illegal.

Jones and his company, Infowars, have been sued by survivors and family members of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. Jones has said on his broadcast that the entire shooting was a hoax planned and sponsored by the government in order to promote an anti-Second Amendment agenda. Jones has accused survivors and family members of being actors and claimed that the supposed deceased never really existed in the first place.

As if losing a child to senseless violence isn’t bad enough, survivors and family members have had to deal with threats and harassment from Jones’s followers. At least one family has moved to a gated community as a result of the threats they received.

Some of the survivors and family members have responded by suing Jones and his company for defamation. Much of that lawsuit depends upon the content published by Infowars, but since some of that content has since been deleted (and Jones is on record admitting he told his staff to delete the content), Jones may have inadvertently dug his hole deeper. Continue reading

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One of the problems with arbitration is that it’s private, which means the results never make it into the news. This poses a problem for those trying to use lawsuits in order to make a statement.

Rick Pitino recently sued Adidas for allegedly inflicting damage to his reputation after a corruption scandal that eventually resulted in him losing his job at Louisville. The defamation lawsuit sought both compensatory and punitive damages, although the complaint did not specify an amount for either one. According to Steve Pence, Pitino’s attorney, the lawsuit was less about the money than it was about trying to salvage Pitino’s reputation.

But shortly after Pitino filed the lawsuit, Adidas filed a motion to dismiss it, saying the case belonged in private arbitration outside of court. The judge agreed and dismissed the case.

It’s worth noting that the dismissal does not mean that Adidas is innocent of the allegations against it. All it means is that the U.S. court is not the proper jurisdiction to handle the dispute. But since the results of arbitration are never made public, Pitino’s stated main goal of clearing his name cannot be accomplished through arbitration.

In 2017, an FBI investigation linked Pitino with improper recruitment practices, specifically his connection with Brian Bowen, a five-star player who was allegedly paid $100,000 to commit to playing for the University of Louisville.

Pitino was initially placed on administrative leave in September of 2017 after the results of the FBI investigation were made public. He was fired just a few weeks later and Bowen ended up not playing for U of L. Continue reading

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Chalk up a victory for pro-consumer speech in Illinois. In a recent opinion, the Third District Appellate Court found that Better Business Bureau of Central Illinois (BBB) did not defame a business by giving it a “D-” reliability report on its website because the rating was protected as subjective opinion.

Perfect Choice Exteriors LLC, a home improvement company in Creve Coeur that installs windows, roofing, and siding, sued BBB in Peoria County circuit court for defamation, commercial disparagement, tortious interference with contract, and violation of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Perfect Choice claimed BBB told inquiring customers that they should not do business with the company, resulting in a loss of contracts exceeding $50,000, as well as “injury to [its] reputation and standing within the business community in an amount exceeding $50,000.”

BBB initially gave Perfect Choice an “A” rating after it launched in 2009, but later changed that to a D- based on what it called the “complaint volume with the BBB for a business of [Perfect Choice’s] size” and Perfect Choice’s inadequate response to and resolution of customer complaints. Perfect Choice denied these claims and alleged that BBB never materially investigated the complaints to determine their validity. Continue reading

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Tensions between American citizens are higher than ever with no sign of slowing down any time soon and there’s ample evidence that the 2016 election played a significant role in widening those divides. Trump’s presidential campaign ran on a platform of anger and division as he routinely worked his rally crowds into a froth of resentment and hatred.

As he encourages his citizens to attack each other (both verbally and physically) his proponents who work in television, radio, and on the internet have likewise been encouraging their followers to participate in the same destructive behaviors. One such supporter, Alex Jones, has a radio show and website in which he publishes conspiracy theories about natural disasters. While the rest of the country was mourning the lives lost in the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and Sandy Hook, Jones publicly and repeatedly insisted the first two were inside jobs and the last one never happened. Instead, he claims survivors and their families are “crisis actors” promoting the “gun-grabbing” agenda.

But the families have had enough. Family members of eight of the Sandy Hook victims, plus an F.B.I. agent who was a first responder at the shooting, have filed a total of three defamation lawsuits against Jones. One lawsuit alleges Jones and his company, InfoWars, have continuously perpetuated the monstrous lie that the Sandy Hook families faked the deaths of their loved ones. Continue reading

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Anyone who thought the story of Stormy Daniels’s alleged affair with Donald Trump would blow over quickly should think again. Not only is Daniels not going anywhere, but she’s drawing other people into the scandal, including Keith Davidson, her former attorney.

Davidson represented Daniels in the negotiations between her and Trump for the non-disclosure agreement she signed regarding the affair she and Trump allegedly had in 2006. Under the terms of the non-disclosure agreement, Daniels was to keep quiet about the affair in exchange for $130,000.

Daniels kept her end of the deal for the first five years. Then, in 2011 she tried to sell the story of the affair to a magazine, which had agreed to pay her $15,000 for the story. But Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, allegedly threatened to sue the magazine, which backed out and never paid Daniels for the story.

Daniels said she was also threatened by a man in a parking lot while she was with her daughter, who was an infant at the time. The man allegedly told Daniels to leave Trump alone, saying it would be “a shame” if anything were to happen to her.

Although that kept Daniels quiet for the next five years, she has since come out and spoken publicly about the affair she allegedly had with Trump all those years ago.

At first, Daniels merely hinted at the possibility of an affair and refused to explicitly confirm or deny its existence. She received lots of media attention and was invited to be on various talk shows, but she consistently cited her non-disclosure agreement as the reason she could not directly talk about the alleged affair. It wasn’t until a few months ago that Daniels started talking more openly about the affair and its aftermath, claiming the non-disclosure agreement was invalid because Trump never actually signed it. Continue reading

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When a worker starts saying bad things about their employer in public, it tends to raise a certain question: are they a whistleblower or are they a disgruntled employee trying to sabotage an honest company?

According to Tesla, Martin Tripp, who used to work as a process technician for the car manufacturer, is allegedly a saboteur who is actively trying to inflict financial harm on the company. Among the allegations listed in Tesla’s complaint are defamation and theft of trade secrets.

The business defamation and trade secret lawsuit alleges Tripp wrote software that was designed to hack Tesla’s manufacturing operating system (MOS). The lawsuit claims Tripp admitted to doing so and to transferring data to third parties without Tesla’s knowledge or consent. The data Tripp allegedly stole is said to include dozens of photos and at least one video, all showing how Tesla’s MOS works.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the business lawsuit further alleges Tripp made defamatory comments about the company to the media. As an example, Tesla’s complaint points to some comments Tripp made saying some of the company’s Model 3 vehicles had punctured battery cells, but the company insists no punctured cells (battery or otherwise) have ever been used in any of their vehicles. Continue reading