Hours after excerpts from a book that were published and prior to the book being released, lawyers on behalf of the President had threatened the author by using cease and desist letters. These letters threatened legal action for defamation due to alleged falsehoods. In a letter sent to former Presidential advisor Steven Bannon, the letter stated that “legal action is imminent.,” Another letter to the publisher demanded the book’s author and publisher halt the book’s release and “issue a full and complete retraction and apology” or else face legal action. Organizations such as the American Booksellers Association, the Authors Guild, and the National Coalition Against Censorships have come forward to condemn the attempt to halt the book from getting into the hands of the public. The cease and desist letter also meant that the author moves the date up to an earlier release date in order to garner greater media attention. Nor did the letter clearly point to any specific facts as untrue. As such, a media frenzy ensued.
It is common knowledge that the First Amendment protects such forms of writing in the right to exercise Freedom of Speech provisions. Despite such warnings and the violation of an employment contract that was in place, experts agree that it is likely that such a contract would be considered unenforceable due to the nature of public interest in the matter. This is even though the agreement included terms which specified that included nonusage of disparaging remarks and non-disclosure terms against the Trump Family or Organization. First Amendment lawyers have chimed in and claim that agreements cannot be enforceable or remain “confidential.” This is the first time that a President has ever sought or obtained such a kind of agreement. The reason for that being, that these forms of agreements are against public policy. Unless there were certain governmental secrets which could threaten national security, there must be a policy justification. Preventing criticism is not justifiable under the circumstances. It must be noted, however, had this been a corporate situation, a finding may have been different.
A defamation suit could ensue, however, the bar for this is high when it comes to personalities that are public. It must be proven that the statements were intended with malice, intentional and false. The standard laid out by the Supreme Court is high. The reason is that the President is a public official and under the New York Times v. Sullivan standard. Public officials are subject to a much higher standard than average citizens. The President would have to prove that either they knew that material was false, or they showed a reckless disregard of the truth. It is up to the courts to determine if the statements are libelous after they are published. The White House says the book is full of lies about the Trump presidency. Mr. Trump said that if libel laws “were strong… you wouldn’t have things like that happen where you can say whatever comes into your head.” He appears to be suggesting that stronger laws are required so that speech can no longer be as free as it currently stands.
Our Evanston 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..
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 Hinsdale 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 attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. 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.
Lubin Austermuehle’s DuPage County defamation and slander lawyers near Oak Park and Hinsdale 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 Schaumburg and Arlington Hts., 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 online at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at 630-333-0333 or online by filling out our contact us form.