Category Archives: First Amendment

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Defamation Law Series: Texas Court Holds that “Rhetorical Flourishes” In Article Do Not Support Defamation Claim

The Texas Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas recently dismissed defamation claims against a Dallas magazine, finding that although a headline and article could be interpreted as criticism of a former symphony orchestra volunteer, the statements functioned as non-actionable opinions. In September 2013, D Magazine published an article titled: “The Talented Mr. Reyes: How a … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Melania Trump Settles Her Libel Lawsuit Against Daily Mail

First Lady Melania Trump reportedly has settled her lawsuit against the British tabloid newspaper, Daily Mail, for about $2.9 million plus costs. Mrs. Trump originally filed her lawsuit in September 2016 in Maryland based on allegations that Daily Mail, among others, had republished defamatory statements when it reported rumors that she had previously worked as … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: California Court of Appeal SLAPPS Several Claims Asserted Against Boxer Floyd Mayweather

The California Court of Appeal recently dismissed several claims asserted against the famous professional boxer, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., by his ex-fiancé, Shantel Jackson. Mayweather and Jackson had been involved in an on-again, off-again romantic relationship.  Jackson alleged that she had ended her relationship with Mayweather after he had become violent on several occasions.  Before the … Continue Reading

Stop The Press’s Anti-SLAPP: Federal Judge In Georgia Denies CNN’s Motion To Strike In Defamation Suit

A federal court in the Northern District of Georgia recently denied CNN’s motion to strike in a defamation lawsuit, ruling that Georgia’s anti-SLAPP statute has no application in federal court.  This places the court on the side of the D.C. Circuit and squarely against the First, Fifth, and Ninth Circuits, which have all applied state … Continue Reading

The California Court Of Appeal Weighs In: The Development And Production Of An Entertainment Program Is Protected Under The Anti-SLAPP Statute

In a recent 50-page published opinion, the California Court of Appeal determined that offensive and derogatory language on a movie set was protected activity under the anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (or anti-SLAPP) statute because the conduct was part of the behind-the-scenes process for making a movie. The case pitted Marlon Wayans – an actor … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Court Affirms Dismissal Of Claims Against Actor Marlon Wayans

In Daniel v. Wayans, The California Court of Appeal recently affirmed a trial court’s decision to grant actor Marlon Wayans’ anti-SLAPP motion against Pierre Daniel. Daniel worked as an extra on the movie A Haunted House 2, which starred Wayans.  Daniel filed suit against Wayans and others asserting a number of claims, based in part … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Massachusetts District Court Tosses Katherine McKee’s Claims Against Bill Cosby

Last week, on February 16, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed Katherine McKee’s claims against Bill Cosby in McKee v. Cosby. McKee was among the women who alleged that Cosby had sexually assaulted her.  In her lawsuit against Cosby, McKee claimed that after she shared her story in an … Continue Reading

Defamation Series: Texas Supreme Court Explains That Courts Should Not Make Editorial Decisions For The Media Re Information Related To Matters Of Public Concern

In Texas, Plaintiff Wade Brady brought claims for libel and libel per se against Carter Publications, Inc., publisher of the newspaper West Fort Bend Star, and one of its writers, LeaAnne Klentzman.  Wade alleged that the defendants published an article in a “malicious” attempt to portray him as a criminal who used his the connections … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Trumping Defamation Claims

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump recently have found themselves embroiled in two separate defamation cases in state courts – but while the President defended himself against claims resulting from his late-night tweeting, the First Lady brought her case as a plaintiff seeking damages against an online blogger and media company. Relying On … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Wisconsin Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Firefighter Aaron Marjala’s Claim for Defamation

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of firefighter Aaron Marjala’s claim for defamation against a news network, Robert Whitaker (chief of the fire department), television journalist Megyn Kelly, and a guest on her show, Lee Armstrong. Marjala was a firefighter and injured the ulnar nerve in his right arm while … Continue Reading

Former American Idol Contestant’s Defamation and False Light Claims Dismissed

The California Court of Appeal recently dismissed former American Idol contestant Corey Clark’s claims against Radar Online, LLC (“Radar”), concluding that Radar’s anti-SLAPP motion should have been granted. In 2003, Clark was a contestant on the national television singing competition American Idol.  Clark was eventually removed from the competition due to his purported failure to … Continue Reading

Gawker Remains in the Crosshairs: Seventh Circuit Finds that Online Media Publisher Can Be Liable for Defamatory Third-Party User Comments for Its Role in Disseminating the Statements

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently kept alive one of the multitude of legal entanglements ensnaring Gawker Media LLC, as the Court reversed and remanded a lower court’s decision to dismiss a plaintiff’s defamation claim involving defamatory third-party user comments.  In its ruling, the Court emphasized that a media company such as Gawker can … Continue Reading

VR/AR in a Real World

In case you have been living under a rock, virtual reality (VR) and its first cousin, augmented reality (AR), have arrived.  The highly publicized and long-awaited head-mounted displays (HMDs), the headsets through which the world of virtual reality can be accessed, have been or will be made available for sale to the public this year, … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Denies Special Effects Provider’s Request for Discovery Regarding Anonymous Speaker’s Identity in Defamation Case

Last month the California Court of Appeal addressed whether Avongard Products U.S.A. Ltd., doing business as Hydraulx, a preeminent film industry visual special effects provider, made a prima facie showing that certain anonymous e-mails are provably false and defamatory statements of fact that caused Hydraulx to suffer actual damage.  Hydraulx sued a number of anonymous … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Clarifies Standards for Anti-SLAPP Motions to Strike So-Called “Mixed Causes of Action”

This week the California Supreme Court clarified that California’s anti-SLAPP statute, California Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16, permits the movant to strike a portion of a so-called “mixed cause of action” that combines allegations of activity in furtherance of the movant’s right of petition or free speech with allegations of unprotected activity.  The case … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Affirms Order Denying Anti-SLAPP Motion to Strike Claim for Libel by Implication

Plaintiff Leah Manzari, an alleged pioneer in the online adult entertainment industry and purportedly famous under her professional name, Danni Ashe, filed suit for libel and false light in California district court, alleging that an article published by defendant Associated News Ltd. in its online newspaper, the Daily Mail Online, implied that Manzari was HIV … Continue Reading

In Online Defamation Case, Court Finds That Personal Jurisdiction Does Not Exist Over Blogger Who Directed Online Reviews To A Nationwide Audience

The Eastern District of Virginia recently dismissed an online defamation case on personal jurisdiction grounds.  The case related to a gun-aficionado blog, created in Arizona and aimed at a “nationwide marketplace of consumers of firearms,” which contained negative reviews about a product.  Because the operators of the blog did not specifically direct their online review … Continue Reading

Rejecting First Amendment And Communications Decency Act Arguments, California Appellate Court Affirms Order Requiring Non-Party Yelp To Take Down Defamatory Reviews

In a published decision filed on June 7, 2016 in Dawn Hassell v. Ava Bird, Case No. A143233, the Court of Appeals for the State of California, First Appellate District, determined that the trial court’s order requiring Yelp to take down content – which had been posted by the Defendant Ava Bird and which the … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Rejects Defamation Lawsuit Targeting Statements Made In American Hustle

Plaintiff Paul Brodeur, a well-known author, filed suit in California state court against the producers and distributors of the motion picture American Hustle, asserting claims for defamation, slander, and false light.  The case is Paul Brodeur v. Atlas Entertainment, Inc., et al., Case No. B263379. Mr. Brodeur’s claims were based on a single statement made … Continue Reading

New York Court Dismisses Defamation Suit Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

On May 2, 2016, the New York Supreme Court for the County of Westchester granted defendant Seeking Alpha, Inc.’s motion to dismiss plaintiff Mark Nordlicht’s (“Plaintiff”) defamation complaint in the case styled as Nordlicht v. Seeking Alpha, Inc., et al., Index No. 64319/15.  The court’s ruling was based on the immunity created by section 230 … Continue Reading

Significant Practical Reasons For Entering A Life Rights Agreement May Exist, But It May Not Be Necessary From A Legal Perspective

Real life stories are often produced with the acknowledgment and encouragement of their subjects, who are compensated in exchange for entering into what are known as life rights agreements. However, obtaining permission from every real person involved in the making of the work may not be feasible. In the article “Rights to Life,” published in … Continue Reading

Blake Shelton Says Magazine Wrong About Rehab & Survives Anti-SLAPP Motion

Last year, country music superstar Blake Shelton filed suit in federal court against the creators and publishers of In Touch Weekly, bringing claims of libel per se and false light invasion of privacy after the magazine published allegedly false statements in its cover story headlines and an accompanying article about Shelton’s purported drinking habit and … Continue Reading

Straight Outta the Central District: The First Amendment Shields Straight Outta Compton Filmmakers from Misappropriation of Likeness Claim

The filmmakers of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, the biopic chronicling the career of hip-hop sensation N.W.A., scored a key victory in the Central District of California last Wednesday in the case of Heller v. NBCUniversal, Inc. et al.  The filmmakers were sued last year by Gerald Heller, N.W.A.’s former manager, who claimed (among other things) that … Continue Reading
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