An appeals panel in Pennsylvania resuscitated a 13-year-old defamation lawsuit. In 2001, Thomas A. Josephs and his two sons brought a libel action against The Citizens’ Voice – a Scranton-area newspaper. In a series of 10 articles, the paper reported on an alleged federal money laundering investigation involving the Josephs taxi and limousine businesses. The Citizen tied the Josephs to allegations of firearm and drug transport.
The rub: when the grand jury eventually returned with an indictment, it didn’t mention the Josephs or their business, Acumark, Inc.
At First, A Jury Awarded The Defamation Plaintiff $3.5M; But An Appeal’s Court Overturned
When the case first went to trial, the jury came back in favor of the Josephs to the tune of $3.5 million. The state supreme court, however, vacated the verdict on appeal, reasoning that the Josephs couldn’t prove harm.
But, The Defamation Plaintiffs Kept At It…And Their Persistence Worked
Years passed, but the Josephs didn’t give up. And this past week, the Pennsylvania Superior Court overruled the state Supreme Court. The 3-judge panel reasoned that the paper did make statements of fact in the articles, and therefore the josephs have the right to prove in a court of law that those statements were untrue.
Attorneys for the Josephs are thrilled with the recent ruling, but admonished “the judicial system has not covered itself with glory in the handling of this case.”
It just goes to show, if you stick to something – even a protracted defamation lawsuit – you may just end up on top at the final bell.