In an opinion today, Judge Vyskocil granted Fox News’s motion to dismiss a defamation claim centered on an episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight. In the episode, Carlson was responding to President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen having pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for arranging to pay settlements to two women alleged to have had affairs with Trump. Carlson was critical of media suggestions that Trump should be impeached or held criminally responsible for the payments:

Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money. Now, that sounds like a classic case of extortion. Yet, for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Judge Vyskocil ruled that, in context, this was not a literal accusation of extortion, but intended to frame the debate in the guest commentary segment that followed:
Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil: Tucker Carlson’s “Extortion” Jab Was Hyperbole, Not Defamation

On Friday, Judge Rakoff denied cross-motions for summary judgment in Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times. (See our earlier coverage here.) Palin argued that the “actual malice” standard for defamatory statements against public figures was no longer good law or did not apply to this case, while the Times argued that no reasonable jury could find that the allegedly defamatory statements were published with actual malice. The case will proceed to trial next Februrary.

Continue Reading Judge Rakoff Clears Sarah Palin’s Defamation Lawsuit Against NY Times for February Trial

In a complaint filed today, congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard sued Hillary Clinton for defamation over Clinton having referred to Gabbard as a “Russian asset” during a podcast.  The complaint accuses Clinton of harboring a grudge ever since Gabbard endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election:
Continue Reading Tulsi Gabbard Sues Hillary Clinton for Defamation Over “Russian Asset” Comment

In an opinion today, the Second Circuit revived Sarah Palin’s suit accusing The New York Times of defaming her in an editorial suggesting that her political action committee’s use of “stylized cross hairs” over the districts of several members of Congress in online materials was responsible for the “political incitement” of Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and wounded many others (including Representative Gabby Giffords) in a 2011 mass shooting (see our prior coverage here).

The Second Circuit took issue with Judge Rakoff relying on evidence from an evidentiary hearing — the testimony from Times editor James Bennet — to dismiss the case under Rule 12.  As the Second Circuit held, Rule 12(d) allows District Courts to either rule based on the pleadings alone, or to convert the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment (with an opportunity to introduce more evidence):
Continue Reading In Reviving Sarah Palin’s Suit Against the Times, Second Circuit Rejects Use of Evidentiary Hearings on Motions to Dismiss

This week, Judge Sweet dismissed a complaint brought by a former Fox News Latino vice president who was terminated after a Fox News contributor accused him of sexual assault.  According to the complaint, a joint statement by Fox News and the accuser published in a New York Times article — stating that Fox News took

In an opinion this week by Judge Forrest (sitting by designation), the Second Circuit reversed in part Judge Castel’s dismissal (covered here) of claims brought by a University of Virginia fraternity against Rolling Stone magazine over a widely discredit article telling the story of a source named “Jackie” being gang raped at a fraternity party.

The Second Circuit found that the complaint made out a plausible claim of “small group defamation” :
Continue Reading Second Circuit Revives “Small Group Defamation” Claim By Fraternity Against Rolling Stone

In an opinion today, Judge Rakoff dismissed Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against the New York Times (see our prior coverage here) because the allegations (even taking into account additional facts from an evidentiary hearing) amounted to a showing of negligence, at best.  The opinion begins:

Continue Reading Judge Rakoff: Sarah Palin’s Allegations Against NY Times Do Not Amount to Necessary Showing of Maliciousness

Today, Judge Gardephe dismissed with prejudice the amended complaint brought by two prominent “anti-aging” doctors against the nonprofit consumer advocacy website “Quackwatch.”  Last year, Judge Gardephe dismissed the original complaint, containing defamation claims based on an article reporting that the plaintiffs had agreed to pay fines to the Illinois licensing authorities for improperly using the term “M.D.” after their names (see our coverage here).  Plaintiffs’ amended complaint claimed that the defendant, a retired doctor who operates the “Quackwatch” site, had secretly contacted government officials in China and Malaysia to scuttle the plaintiffs’ valuable government contracts based on the allegedly defamatory article on “Quackwatch.”

Continue Reading Judge Gardephe Dismisses Renewed Defamation Claims by Anti-Aging Doctors Labeled as “Quacks”

Last week, the New York Times Company moved to dismiss a defamation suit brought by Sarah Palin over a New York Times editorial drawing a connection between SarahPAC’s publication of a “crosshairs map” referencing Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the mass shooting where she was wounded in 2011 (see our previous coverage of the suit here).

The Times argues that SarahPAC cannot be considered an alter ego of its namesake, meaning that the editorial was not “of and concerning” her:
Continue Reading N.Y. Times Moves to Dismiss Palin Defamation Suit, Arguing Editorial Concerned Palin’s PAC, Not Palin Personally