Articles Posted in Defamation, Libel and Slander

Chicgo-non-compete-agreement-and-Chicago-trade-secret-lawyers-300x115After a forensic document examiner wrote an article on the evaluation of qualifications and credentials in his profession for a trade publication, the nonprofit credentialing organization that was mentioned in the article sued the author and the publisher of the publication for defamation. The nonprofit argued that the article was defamatory and also singled out one of its members for special criticism. The district court dismissed the case, finding that the article was not defamatory, as it contained only opinions. An appellate court ruled in favor of the author and publisher, finding that the article represented the opinions of the author and that it was not possible to read the article as containing assertions of fact subject to verification. The appellate court determined that the district court did not err in finding that the article was not defamatory, even though it found that the author of the article should have disclosed his relationship to the credentialing organization that he promoted in his article.

The Board of Forensic Document Examiners is a nonprofit organization that administers a certification program for forensic document examiners. Certified examiners analyze and compare handwriting and provide expert testimony in judicial proceedings. The Board has certified about a dozen examiners. Continue reading ›

A jury has ordered Oberlin College to pay more than $44 million in actual and punitive damages after finding that the college defamed a local bakery, an Oberlin Ohio institution in business since 1885, and its owners and inflicted emotional distress on them.

The jury’s award followed a six-week trial that detailed each minute of a bitter saga that began in November 2016 with the arrests of three black Oberlin students at Gibson’s Bakery near the college’s campus in Oberlin, Ohio. The plaintiffs in the libel suit were Gibson’s Bakery and its owners.

According to court records, a black Oberlin College student attempted to purchase wine with a fake ID. Allyn Gibson, a relative of one of the owners, suspected the student was attempting to steal wine and chased after and detained the student after he attempted to flee. The other two students intervened and all three students were subsequently arrested.

When news broke of the incident, some students of Oberlin College arranged a protest of the bakery accusing the bakery’s owners of racism. According to the complaint, Oberlin College staff, including deans and professors, engaged in the protests as well. Students of the college also petitioned the college to cut all ties with the bakery.

The defamation claims surrounded a flier that the plaintiffs alleged the Oberlin Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo and other college staff members participated in creating and disseminating to the community and the media that contained libelous statements accusing Gibson’s Bakery of being a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION” and urged people not to buy from the bakery. The flier also listed a number of the bakery’s competitors and urged individuals to patronize those businesses instead. A copy of the complaint, including the flier, is available here. Continue reading ›

The Board of Forensic Document Examiners defamation sued for libel claiming it suffered harm to its reputation due to an article that appeared in a journal published by the American Bar Association. The trial court granted the defendants motions to dismiss the action, finding that article didn’t sufficiently identify the Board or its members as the targets of the criticism and if it had done so, it would still be only the opinion of the author and therefore non-action as a libel case.  You can listen to the oral argument below:

You can read the final decision of the 7th Circuit here. Continue reading ›

download-300x150download-1-300x150Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook defamation libel and slander attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Patrick Austermuehle of the Firm was named a Rising Star again and has a great deal of experience as a Chicago Defamation Libel and Slander Attorney.  Peter Lubin and Patrick Austermuehle have achieved this honor for many years which is only given to 5% of Illinois’ attorneys each year.  You can review their record of accomplishment here. You can look at reviews by the clients here.

Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over thirty years experience in litigating defamation, breach of fiduciary duty and shareholder oppression lawsuits.  Our Chicago non-compete agreement and trade secret theft attorneys prosecute and defend many types of unfair business practices and emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, 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.



Lubin Austermuehle’s Wheaton and Waukegan business litigation attorneys 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 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 Schaumburg and Orland Park, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.

You can view the decision here.

Our Naperville, 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 consumer sued by a large luxury used car dealer in federal court for hundreds of negative internet reviews and videos which resulted in substantial media coverage of the suit; one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired; and 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. One of our partners also participated in representing a high profile athlete against a well-known radio shock jock.

download-300x150download-1-300x150Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook shareholder oppression attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Patrick Austermuehle of the Firm was named a Rising Star again and has a great deal of experience as a Chicago Defamation Libel and Slander Lawyer.  Peter Lubin and Patrick Austermuehle have achieved this honor for many years which is only given to 5% of Illinois’ attorneys each year.

Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business dispute lawyers have over thirty years experience in litigating defamation, breach of fiduciary duty and shareholder oppression lawsuits.  Our Chicago non-compete agreement and trade secret theft lawyers prosecute and defend many types of unfair business practices and emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, 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.



Lubin Austermuehle’s Wheaton, Schaumburg, and Evanston business litigation attorneys 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 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 Aurora, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.

The Board of Forensic Document Examiners (“Board”), a non-profit organization that administers a certification program for forensic document examiners, filed a defamation lawsuit against the American Bar Association (“ABA”) alleging that it suffered reputational harm from an article published in an ABA law journal. A federal district court dismissed the claim finding that the statements in the journal article were non-actionable opinion protected from liability by the First Amendment. The non-profit appealed and the Seventh Circuit, agreeing with the district court, affirmed the dismissal.

The summer 2015 edition of The Judges’ Journal, a journal published by the ABA, contained an article written by Thomas Vastrick, a forensic document examiner who was certified by one of the plaintiff’s competitors, the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. The article purported to offer judges guidance for evaluating the qualifications and credentials of forensic document examiners, which analyze and compare handwriting and provide expert testimony in judicial proceedings. In the four-page article, Vastrick urged judges to look for experts certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners and to “be wary of other certifying bodies.”

The article did not mention the Board by name. Nonetheless, the Board believed that the article defamed its members by creating the impression that they were “lesser qualified” examiners than those certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. The Board responded to the article by filing suit alleging defamation per se and invasion of privacy on behalf of its members generally and one member specifically who was singled out in Vastrick’s article.

The Board’s complaint focused on four specific statements in the article. The first statement urged judges that to be “an appropriately trained forensic document examiner,” the examiner should have completed “a full-time, in-residence training program lasting a minimum of 24 months[.]” The next statement claimed that “The American Board of Forensic Document Examiners … is the only certification board recognized by the broader forensic science community, law enforcement, and courts for maintaining principles and training requirements concurrent with the published training standards” and warned judges to “be wary of other certifying bodies.” The remaining two statements generally warned judged to look out for and be wary of examiners certified by any certification board other than The American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. Continue reading ›

Earlier this month, a Florida daycare responded to a negative online review left by parents of a child that until recently attended the daycare by serving the parents who left the review with a defamation lawsuit. The parents, Marc LaRocco and Kimberly Moore, left the review after they claim the daycare, The Learning Experience, repeatedly fed their son Owen dairy despite being notified that the child had an allergy to milk.

The parents of the child who attended The Learning Experience daycare in Sunrise, Florida claim that they notified the daycare upon enrolling their son that he was allergic to milk. Despite this, the parents claim that the daycare sent them pictures on numerous occasions of their son eating foods containing dairy. The parents claim that their son suffered rashes and vomiting as a result.

After removing their son from the daycare, the parents took to social media to describe what they claim was their experience at The Learning Experience in Sunrise, Florida. In lengthy online reviews, the couple made statements, according to the complaint, such as: “The Learning Experience- Sunrise is ill-equipped to handle children with any type of special needs.” The complaint also alleges that the couple wrote that: “This school needs a complete overhaul in training and management” and “If you value your child’s life, do not allow them to attend this facility.” The daycare responded to the reviews by filing a lawsuit claiming that the statements were “false and injurious” false and made with “reckless disregard for the truth.” The daycare alleges that the “statements were communicated to at least 500,000 third parties” and “negatively impacted (The Learning Experience’s) trustworthiness and character.” A CBS affiliate in Miami ran a story about the lawsuit and interviewed the parents. That story and the interview can be found below:

Continue reading ›

This year marks one hundred years since the birth of modern First Amendment jurisprudence. In 1919, as the United States was recovering from the effects of World War I, the U.S. Supreme Court grappled with a series of cases involving the speech of political dissidents charged with violating federal laws designed to quell criticism of the U.S. war effort, draft, or policy toward foreign nations.

The first of the free speech cases that came before the Supreme Court in 1919 was Schenck v. United States. The Schenck defendants were convicted for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for distributing leaflets that criticized the draft and supported that position by reciting language from the 13th Amendment. Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes affirmed the defendants’ convictions, reasoning that what can be said in times of peace may not be legal during times of war. In short, the First Amendment had limits.

Holmes reasoned that, “[t]he character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done,” which he followed with the now-famous hypothetical of “a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” Holmes’s opinion was also noteworthy in that it introduced the “clear and present danger” test which became the test applied by courts in First Amendment cases for the next five decades.

Perhaps the most impactful opinion to come from the 1919 free speech cases was Justice Holmes’s dissent in Abrams v. United States­—a dissent that has come to be known as the “great dissent.” Few could have known at the time Justice Holmes penned his dissent that his words would begin shaping the contours of our understanding of the First Amendment and the freedoms guaranteed by it—freedoms that are considered by many around the world to be quintessentially American.

The Abrams case was not particularly noteworthy. It was in many respects a repeat of Schenck. And like Schenck, the convictions of the defendants charged with violating the Sedition Act of 1918 were upheld. But despite coming only a few months apart, Justice Holmes voted to uphold the convictions in Schenck and to overturn the convictions in Abrams. What was the difference? Continue reading ›

A former judge of the Illinois circuit court sued a reporter and a newspaper, accusing them of defamation and false light for publishing an article in which a law professor was quoted as stating that the judge was “corrupt as the day is long” in relation to the judge’s practices when handling asbestos litigation. The Illinois Appellate Court found that the statement was protected speech as an ordinary reader would consider it to be hyperbole.

Heather Gvillo, a reporter for the Madison County Record wrote an article in September 2014 concerning asbestos litigation which recently concluded in the Madison County circuit courts. The article quoted Darren McKinney, Communications Director for the American Tort Reform Association, who stated that Madison County’s reputation as an unfriendly venue for defendants in asbestos-related litigation was due to the actions of Nicolas G. Byron, then a judge in the circuit court. The article went on to state that McKinney believed Byron to be shamelessly plaintiff-friendly, and that Byron allegedly designed a docket in order to beat defendants into submission prior to going to trial, by scheduling trial slots for a single defendant in multiple cases on a single day, resulting in the inability of defendants to prepare for trial. This allegedly led to defendants deciding to settle their cases. Continue reading ›

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