Practice Area: Libel & Slander
Outcome: Won Libel/Defamation Case
Description: Our client, who was a public figure, was slandered by a newspaper and a television station that ran pieces suggesting that he had grossly mismanaged a municipal golf course. We brouight a federal lawsuit against the defendants, Gannet Newspapers (publishers of USA TODAY) and two major television newtworks, including ABC Corporation. The Chief Judge of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of New York threw the case out, but on appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in New York, perhaps the most protective Court in America of the First Amendment rights of the Media (particularly where public figures are making a claim), overturned the decision of the Chief Judge, holding that plaintiff had a case for libel/defamation. Many major publishers and Media outlets filed Amicus Briefs (Freinds of the Court briefs), asking the Second Circuit to reconsider its decision, asserting that the decision it had entered changed the law of libel in New York to make it more likely that the Media could be sued for libel/defamation. Their efforts failed. Soon thereafter, the defendants, Gannett and ABC, settled on terms that my client found quite acceptable.