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Is Sacha Baron Cohen’s Prank Worth $95M? — Best Chicago Area Defamation and Libel Lawyers

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.

Now Moore is suing Cohen, CBS, and Showtime for $95 million for defamation, fraud, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress. The lawsuit is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.

Since the show aired, Moore said he had not realized he was going to be appearing on a TV show that was planning to mock and humiliate him and other religious conservatives, including Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney.

The lawsuit alleges Moore suffered extreme emotional distress as a result of Cohen’s prank, which made him out to be a pedophile and a sex offender. Whether that emotional distress is worth $95 million has yet to be determined.

The case is an interesting one. While Moore could certainly make the case that he suffered emotionally as a result of being duped into appearing on Cohen’s show, his allegation of defamation is unlikely to hold much weight in the court. As a politician, Moore is a public figure, which means almost everything said about him is protected by the First Amendment, which was designed to promote free and open speech about our representatives and other public figures in order to encourage the sharing of information so we could have a well-informed public.

It’s also likely that Moore signed a release before appearing on Cohen’s show since several other attempted defamation lawsuits against Cohen have been dismissed when it was revealed that they had signed contracts that released Cohen and his team from any liability.

Our Deerfield, 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 Lincolnwood and Skokie 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 attorney Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation and Chicago slander attorney Patrick Austermuehle a Rising Star. 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 Burr Ridge and LaGrange Park 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 Northbrook and Glenview, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.