Libel Complaint Can Proceed Against National Review For Attacking Climate Change Scientist — Our Chicago Slander Lawyers Prosecute and Defend Libel Cases

While scientists have gathered convincing evidence to support the theory of global warming, many remain skeptical. Where the skeptics might find themselves in trouble is when they allegedly wrongly accuse scientists of manipulating data to reach false conclusions. Such is the case with scientist Michael Mann and National Review, which ran an article last summer accusing Mann of implementing fraud in his research.

Mann was one of a group of researchers that developed the climate change model known as the “hockey stick graph”. This graph shows a dramatic rise in global temperature at the end of the last millennium. Many of those who refuse to believe that climate change is real have criticized Mann and his work. Several investigations have been conducted over the years into Mann’s research methods. They have all cleared him of any wrongdoing.

These investigations, though, were not enough for the author of the National Review Article, which drew comparisons between Mann and former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of child molestation. The article questioned the validity of a particular investigation by Penn State which cleared Mann of any wrongdoing. According to the article, the University’s investigation of Sandusky’s conduct and the investigation of Mann’s research methods both took place under former Penn State President Graham Spanier. The article quoted a July 13 post from the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s blog, which said that Mann “could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science.”

The defendants argued that the statements were opinion and rhetorical hyperbole and therefore protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. They filed a motion to dismiss under strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). SLAPP is a District of Columbia law which bars plaintiffs from filing lawsuits against plaintiffs with the aim of intimidating them into silence by burdening them with the cost of legal defense until they abandon their criticism. Most SLAPP plaintiffs do not expect to win their cases, hoping instead to achieve their goals through intimidation, mounting legal costs, or simple exhaustion before the case advances very far.

District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Natalia Combs Greene denied the motions to dismiss, having found that the article’s statements crossed the line from opinion to factual assertions. At this stage of the proceedings, Judge Combs Greene allowed that the criticism of Mann’s work may be fair but that is not currently the issue. The issue is whether or not Mann has a valid complaint against the defendants and, since they presented their statements as facts, rather than opinions, Mann has the right to defend his reputation in a court of law. According to the judge’s written statement, “there is a strong probability that the [National Review] Defendants disregarded the falsity of their statements and did so with reckless disregard.

In another recent case reviewed by our Chicago libel lawyers, in the District of Columbia’s Court of Appeals, the appellate court issued an order which found that the anti-SLAPP statute didn’t provide for interlocutory review. This means that National Review cannot appeal the judge’s decision to deny their motion to dismiss. The next stage of the case is discovery.

Our Chicago libel attorneys 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 lawyers 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 Evanston and Burr Ridge, who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and off line 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 attorneys 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 a quarter of century 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 Lisle and Elmhurst 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 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 Elgin and Lake Forest, 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 on line 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.

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