Because freedom of speech is one of our most cherished rights in this country, it’s not easy to file claims for defamation.
Our founding fathers saw the value of being able to speak freely and openly to and about each other, especially when it comes to public figures. It is an essential ingredient for a democracy, which is why it’s the very first amendment ever made to our constitution, and one that is constantly invoked by all parties in just about every political discussion.
Because such a high value has been placed on free and open discussion of public figures, those public figures have a higher burden of proof to bear when filing claims of defamation. Not only do they have to prove that the statement(s) in question was false, but that the person/entity who made the statement knew it was false at the time they published it, and that they did so with the intention of inflicting harm (financial or otherwise) on the person in question.
Whether Sarah Palin will be able to sufficiently prove all those aspects in her recent defamation lawsuit against The New York Times remains to be seen.
In June of this year, The New York Times published an editorial that linked Palin to a mass shooting that was conducted by Jared Loughner in Arizona at the beginning of 2011. Despite her consistently violent pro-gun rhetoric, Palin vehemently denied having anything to do with the shooting and pointed out that the editorial contradicted many of the paper’s own previous articles.
The New York Times later published a correction and issued an apology via Twitter, but Palin was not satisfied. She filed a defamation lawsuit in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York against the publication and the author of the editorial, saying the paper had violated the law, as well as its own policies, when it published the allegedly defamatory editorial.
The New York Times filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and the judge presiding over the issue, Jed S. Rakoff, said he would need the testimony of the editorial’s author in order to determine whether Palin’s claim met the burden of proof required for a defamation lawsuit, or whether, as the publication alleges, it was a baseless claim made by a disgruntled former vice-presidential candidate.
The Times has said it will comply with the judge’s request and provide James Bennet as a witness, the editorial page editor for the paper.
In his order for testimony from the plaintiff, Judge Rakoff said one of the key questions posed by the paper’s motion to dismiss was whether actual malice was a motive in the writing and publication of the editorial in question. Despite the fact that the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff, Judge Rakoff said only the defendant knows the answer to those questions, which is why he is calling for their testimony.
Judge Rakoff also pointed out that, just because The New York Times had previously published articles admitting there was no connection between Palin and the shooting, does not necessarily mean the author of the article in question was aware of the existence of those articles.
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 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 Winnetka 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 law suits 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 Glencoe and Kenilworth 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 Wilmette and Highland Park, 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.