Tag Archives: Famous Lawsuits

Defamation Law: What Is The Difference Between A “Naked Link” and a “Footnote”?

naked links defamation Defamation Law: What Is The Difference Between A “Naked Link” and a “Footnote”?
Online Defamation Law and Links

For what seems like since the Rat Pack headlined at the Copa Room, Casino kingpin Sheldon Adelson has been embroiled in a defamation lawsuit. From one court to the next, the Adelson libel lawsuit hops — motion by tedious motion. And now it looks like it all may come down to whether or not a “naked link” is considered a footnote, or more than a footnote.

The Reason Defamation Lawyers Are Keeping An Eye On The Adelson v/ NJDC Case: “Naked Link” Ruling

But, if you’re interested in the finer points of online defamation law, things are starting to get interesting in the Adelson case because it looks like it will turn entirely on whether or not a “naked link” is the equivalent to a traditional footnote.

Why Adelson Sued The NJDC For Defamation

Two years ago, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) – hoping to make their mark on the presidential election – published an online petition urging Mitt Romney not take campaign contributions from Adelson. The appeal painted Adelson as a morally corrupt shyster who allowed prostitution in his overseas resorts and funneled foreign money into campaign coffers.

Got Information From Another Lawsuit

Where did the NJDC get their info? An unfair termination lawsuit filed by a former Sands executive, which was linked to at the bottom of the online petition. Adelson insists the case on which the claims were culled is merit-less, thereby rendering the accusations defamatory.

District Judge: Naked Link Is A Footnote And Not Defamatory

Judge Paul Oetken was the first district court judge to hear the case; he ruled in favor of the defense. Oetken simply reasoned that the link to the Sands employment lawsuit is the “twenty-first-century equivalent of a footnote” and therefore not defamatory.

Adelson was ordered to pay attorneys’ fees for violating the state’s Anti-SLAPP law.

Appeals Court: We’ve Got Some Thinking To Do About “Naked Links” & Online Defamation

Then came the appeal.

Admittance of Antediluvian Internet Understanding

A three-judge panel presided. At the hearing, octogenarian Judge Guido Calabresi copped to his “’antediluvian’ understanding on the Internet.” Another panelist, Judge Denny Chin, also voiced confusion as to why the hyperlink is not considered “better” than a footnote.

Lawyers for Adelson asked the court to certify a pair of questions, one of which is: does a “naked hyperlink” qualify as a “footnote” for the purposes of an online defamation lawsuit, or is it more?

In an effort to convince the courts that hyperlink citations are a good thing, a lawyer from the defense urged,   “In the 21st century, we want to encourage people to do what we did in this petition, which is including the hyperlink [naked link] as a valuable tool for expanding human knowledge.”

Celebrity Defamation: Dance Mom v. Dance Maven

dance moms defamation Celebrity Defamation: Dance Mom v. Dance Maven
Dance Moms birthed a defamation lawsuit!

Gather round celebrity defamation fans; another reality show slander suit is afoot! I’m always skeptical of these cases, because one can’t help but wonder, “Is it for real or ratings?” But alas, our law demands assumptions of innocence. So, let’s take a look at the reality show defamation case of Dance Mom v. Dance Coach. [Insert Law and Order beats].

A ‘Dance Mom’ Stunt Results In A Celebrity Defamation Suit

The fracas began when Abby Lee and Kelly got “up in each other’s’ grillz” (tm Lucy Watson) at a dance competition in the Bronx. The show was being taped for their reality show, “Dance Moms.” Apparently, shouts were hurled and slaps exchanged. In the end, someone [*cough* realityshowproducers *cough*] called the police and Hyland ended up turning herself in – though she was never handcuffed.

As is the case with many a real-ebrity, after the dramatic slap-down aired (or maybe just before it aired?), Abby Lee took chatfests, like “The View,” to share her tale of primetime combat. So now Hyland is suing Abby Lee for defamation.

Dance Mom’s Lawsuit Says WHAA!?

According to her lawsuit, Hyland wants redress for assault, breach of contract and defamation. Assault because Abby Lee decked her at the dance competition; breach of contract because the spat could jeopardize her show and endorsement contracts; and defamation because according to Hyland, Miller made several false statements of fact on her promotional media tour, including:

  1. Calling Kelly “an alcoholic, being an unfit mother and endangering children.” and
  2. Accusing Hyland of pulling out clumps of Miller’s hair and bruising her face.”

Kelly Hyland’s attorneys also argued for defamation per se because Miller’s alleged false statements of fact were criminal in nature and allegedly injured Hyland in connection with her profession and/or trade business.

Hyland is asking for $5,000,000 in punitive damages, at first glance seems like a ludicrous ask amount from Abby Lee since the dance instructor just recently cleared up a bankruptcy. The sum does, however, make sense when you realize that Hyland also named Collins Avenue Entertainment – the producers of Dance Moms — as a defendant. How is Hyland tying Collins to the claim? According to her lawsuit, Miller was “acting as an agent of Collins” at the time of the confrontation. Moreover, Hyland argues:

“The producers of the show [Collins Avenue Entertainment], in an effort to attract ratings and viewership, encourage and facilitate conflicts between Miller on the one hand and the young girl dancers and their mothers on the other.”

Hyland insists her physical confrontation with Miller was a matter of self-defense. According to Kelly’s libel lawyer, “[Miller] repeatedly lunged toward Kelly gnashing her teeth and loudly attempting to bite Kelly.”

Also, in an attempt to discredit Collins, Hyland hypothesized in her filing that “the producers of the show desired for her to have a warrant issued for her arrest as that would make for intensely dramatic television.”

Well there you have it, folks: another celebrity defamation case for your gossip pleasure. We’ll keep an eye on his one to see if it ever makes it trial. My guess? It’s doubtful. I smell a settlement. Besides, if it is for ratings, the parties can’t take it too far or risk being prosecuted for misappropriation of the justice system.

Speak With A Defamation Attorney

Do you need to speak with a defamation attorney? Contact Kelly/Warner Law today. We have a dedicated slander and libel practice that has helped people from all 50 states, Canada, the UK and Australia. Our lawyers are top-rated, and the firm enjoys a superb BBB rating. Get in touch today to begin the conversation.

A-Rod’s Lawyer Files Multi-Defendant Defamation Suit

a rod A Rods Lawyer Files Multi Defendant Defamation Suit
A-Rod’s lawyer is suing for defamation.

One of A-Rod’s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, filed a defamation lawsuit against former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, two reporters for the New York Daily News and the paper itself. His complaint states that two reporters — Nathaniel Vinton and Michael O’Keefe — fabricated wrongdoings so that Keric would reprimand Tacopina. According to Tacopina, the writer duo then published a negative article about the incident.

Tacopina’s complaint accuses the reporters of being unethical and convicted felon Keric of being a liar. Vinton and O’Keefe — who both had a reputation for shading A-rod — also wrote up a piece slamming Tacopina as an amoral attorney.

To further thicken the plot, Kerik is a disgruntled former client of Tacopina’s law practice. Keric, who did time in federal prison for a Homeland Security scandal and tax fraud, is accused of trying to pin his convictions on his former legal counsel by impugning his abilities and ethics.

Tacopina is seeking 15M in damages for the defamation. If successful, the suit will also help clear his name from the libelous charges lobbied against him in the newspaper. The wronged litigator is high-profile. So, he is doing all he can to keep his name clear of nefarious connotations.

This case also stands to make an important precedent regarding defamation against lawyers, who are historically among the most-maligned professionals in the world. While Keric may have been attempting to use his former lawyer as a scapegoat, Tacopina is not taking the charges lying down. Regardless of the outcome, this defamation case will continue to make headlines as more details emerge.

 

Major Newspaper Says, “Oh, Don’t Pay Attention To Our Headlines.”

puffer advertising 300x300 Major Newspaper Says, “Oh, Don’t Pay Attention To Our Headlines.”These days, thanks to the seminal 1964 New York Times Co. v. Sullivan ruling, it’s rare for a newspaper to lose a defamation lawsuit in the U.S. – but The New York Post may prove to be an exception to the rule.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, before the responsible parties were identified, the Post covered their April 18th edition with a picture of 16-year-old Salaheddin Barhoum and 24-year old Yassine Zaimi. The words “BAG MEN” in bold type ran across the top, with the subheading, “Feds Seek These Two Pictured At Boston Marathon.”

Unfortunately for the paper, the people pictured weren’t the bombers. They were two legal United States residents — who happen to be dark-complexioned. As you might imagine, they’re suing for libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false light invasion of privacy.

Despite the obvious mess up on the part of the Post, the daily is sticking by its interpretation of the incident, insisting that the photo used was “emailed to law enforcement agencies seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects.”

In a recent lawsuit-related document, the Post is also arguing that the headline is merely an “attention-getter” that should not be read as a “true reflection” of the story inside. Furthermore, the paper maintains it played no part in “influencing readers to jump to conclusions.”

Let’s recap. A nationally recognized newspaper is using “Oh, people know our headlines aren’t real,” as a legal defamation defense.

Welp, good night and good luck, I guess.

Reptilian Conspiracy Theorist Suing Google For Defamation

lizard 300x300 Reptilian Conspiracy Theorist Suing Google For Defamation
Reptilian conspiracy theorist is suing Google for online defamation.

Artist-turned-conspiracy theorist Uri Dowbenko filed a defamation lawsuit against Google. His chances of winning the case: pretty much nil. The E.Q. (entertainment quotient) of the lawsuit: very high.

First, A Little About Uri

When Uri Dowbenko entered the world 61 years ago, it’s doubtful his parents thought their son would become one of the more colorful conspiracy theorists in the world. But alas, such was the destiny of little Uri.

Unafraid to take up for the outrageous, Mr. Dowbenko is both a believer in the “New Reptilian World Order” and progenitor of the “Pat Robertson is an undercover Satanist” theory.

But Dowbenko is also an artist. And he’s even had some success around the South Beach area in the past. Lately, however, the art world has seemed to turn its back on Uri. And according to him, it’s all because of a website called “Encyclopedia of American Loons”.

The Website Uri Says Is Causing Him Reputation Harm and By Extension Financial Hardship

A free blog set up on Google’s Blogger platform, the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” is a satirical site highlighting the, shall we say, more fringe-thinkers among us. The anonymous editors of the encyclopedia chose Dowbenko as entry # 111.

Clearly not impressed with Dowbenko’s scientific vigor, the Encyclopedia of American Loons deemed Uri to be a “batshit insane tinfoilhatter, who is lacking any capacity to rationally evaluate science.” But, they also added the artist is “probably harmless, though, and rather entertaining.”

Dowbenko is Ostensibly Letting Money Guide His Way in This Defamation Lawsuit

According to Uri, one day he had an “epiphany” and realized his falling art star had everything to do with the Blogger-based encyclopedia. His prolific writings on various [ah-hem] issues were not to blame. Of course not!

Despite American Loons’ low SERP rank, Dowbenko ignored the Streisand effect and took action. He wasn’t, however, interested in suing the authors of the blog. Oh no, Uri decided Google was to blame. In fact, he believes Google is purposefully and intentionally manipulating the #1 search engine in the world in an effort to ruin his reptilian-human- hybrid-believing reputation.

Is There Any Possible Way Dowbenko Can Win This Online Defamation Lawsuit?

Can Uri win? In a word: no. Now, of course some legal oddity or administrative mess up could result in a win for Uri. Never say never, right? But a judge isn’t going to hold Google responsible for a third-party blog on Blogger. That is what Section 230 of the Communication’s Decency Act is for, to protect website portals from liability over user content.

August 2013: The Month In Defamation

The world of defamation law has been active this August. Below are highlights from the most noteworthy, instructive and just plain funny slander and libel lawsuits from the past few weeks.

The Ex-Boyfriend v. The Stripper-Turned-Doctor

revenge porn legal August 2013: The Month In DefamationAcross the pond, Owen Morris is suing his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Brooke Magnanti for defamation. You see, Dr. Magnanti was a sex worker while earning her PhD. In 2003, she started a blog called Belle de Jour which chronicled her life as a high-paid escort. As sometimes happens when the muses make an appearance, Magnanti’s blog manifested into a best-selling novel, which in turn became a popular television show. In 2009, married and working as a research scientist, Magnanti outed herself to the Times of London.

That’s when Owen Morris lost his cool.

Even though Magnanti only referred to him as “the boy” on her blog and subsequent works, Morris went public, outing himself as “the boy.” He reasoned that by outing herself, Magnanti inadvertently outed him, and as a result caused him total life destruction and a lost job. Mr. Morris now swears that Magnanti lied about being a sex worker, so he is suing her for defamation (?). Yes, even though he was the one who essentially outed himself. (You can kinda do that over in the United Kingdom still, despite that nation’s new libel laws.)

Regardless of Morris’ protestations, Dr. Brooke does not seem too concerned about her ex-boyfriend’s defamation demand. She says she is submitting her appointment book and banking records from the time period in question to prove that Owen is wrong. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how this one turns out.

Beware: Forwarding That Gossipy Email Could Cost You $75,000 In Defamation Damages

search engines August 2013: The Month In DefamationEver get the urge to forward along a bit of juicy gossip via email? Well, you may want to think twice about doing so. Craig Dilley did just that, and now he has to fork over $75,000. The gossip target, romance writer Fern Michaels, sued Dilley for defamation and won. A judge determined that by forwarding the salacious email to a website that promoted Michaels’ work, Dilley acted with “reckless disregard for the truth.” Moreover, the court ruled that forwarding the email was evidence of Dilley’s intent to harm Michaels’ reputation.

A noteworthy coda: Dilley’s mother and sister emailed each other the same email that got Craig in trouble, but mom and sister were safe because the judge determined their exchange was privileged.

Take away lesson: exchanging online gossip privately, between two people, could be deemed privileged, but if a third-party is introduced into the exchange, the act can become defamatory.

Judge Judy’s Son Is Climbing Into The Defamation Ring With His Local Sheriff

anti bigmouth August 2013: The Month In DefamationThe son of no-nonsense T.V. judge Judith Sheindlin is at the center of a contentious defamation lawsuit. Judge Judy’s offspring, Adam Levy, is the Putnam County District Attorney. Suffice it to say that Adam does not get along with the Putnam County Sheriff, Donald D. Smith.

The two’s strained relationship went public in 2010 when Smith accused Levy of befriending Alexandru Hossi, a personal trainer who was accused of raping a young girl. Recently, Smith publicly made a few more statements about Levy’s relationship with Hossi.

When asked about the case, Levy’s side explained their position that Smith “not only made repeated false statements accusing Levy of interfering in [Hossi's] investigation –which he had not and did not — but also of using his position as district attorney to influence and affect the investigation.”

Determined to clear his name, Levy filed a defamation lawsuit against Smith and accused the law enforcement head of “orchestrating a public smear campaign.” For his part, Smith says the lawsuit is all a political move on Levy’s part. Specifically, the Sheriff opined, “The fact that the plaintiff has engaged a high-priced public relations firm, issued a press release about the lawsuit and held a press conference, all before even serving me the court papers, makes it clear to me and any casual observer that his motives are all about smearing me and trying to adversely affect the upcoming Sheriff’s election.”

ESPN Escapes Defamation Ruling

athlete defamation lawsuit August 2013: The Month In DefamationESPN recently won a round in the defamation ring. The media outlet and one of its former talking heads, Craig James, was sued for slander by Mike Leach, ex-coach of the Texas Tech University Football team. Apparently, James’ son, Adam James, played for Leach. According to Adam and Craig, Leach was less-than-kind behind locker room doors and once forced a concussed Adam to stand in a dark closet for hours.

So, ESPN went ahead and ran the story. Problem was that Leach insists ESPN was telling lies. So, he filed a defamation lawsuit. Unfortunately for Coach Leach, though, Judge William C. Sowder has informed lawyers for both parties his intention to side with ESPN on this one. The Plaintiff, however, doesn’t seem dissuaded; his attorneys told reporters that his team knew this slander suit was going to be a long, tough slog and that they intend to appeal Judge Sowder’s decision.

Want to check out other defamation cases from this month? Go here and here.

First High Profile Instagram Defamation Lawsuit? The Game v. The Governess

game instagram defamation First High Profile Instagram Defamation Lawsuit? The Game v. The Governess
Will The Game win his Instagram defamation feud with the babysitter?

Hip Hop artist and VH1 family reality show star, The Game, is feuding again, y’all. But G-Unit and 40 Glocc aren’t involved this time. Instead, The Game’s beefing with babysitter, Karen Monroe, and the battle ground is L.A. Superior Court. The issue at hand? Instagram defamation.

This tale of social media woe began about a month ago. One day, while kibitzing with his comrade, Nas, over social media, The Game learned his fellow hip-hopper had hired caretaker Karen Monroe. Alarmed by the news, Game publicly informed his friend of Monroe’s tenure at La Casa Game.

Via his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Game imputed Monroe, calling her a lying, stealing, child-abusing mess, tattling, “She was busted having sex with her boyfriend and leaving a used condom and the wrapper in my daughter’s room!!!”

Then The Game got graphic. On Instagram, using his account @handsomemurderer, he posted a picture of Monroe with a caption reading “Beware if this person is watching your children, she is a very dangerous baby sitter.” He also went ahead and listed her Twitter and Instagram handles in the message.

Humiliated and shunned from the Nanny Industrial Complex, Karen Monroe decided to file a defamation lawsuit against The Game. According to her claim, Monroe lost her job and ability to work in her chosen profession, which triggered a serious bout of depression.

So now she wants The Game to fork over some benjamins.

Like any defamation case in the United States, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was lying, or, at least, didn’t engage in proper due diligence before publicly making false statements of fact. As such, Karen Monroe will to convince a judge or jury that she never stole, treated kids under her care poorly or knocked boots in The Game’s daughter’s bedroom.

If, indeed, The Game was mistaken in his accusations, it’s still possible for him to escape the legal guillotine by arguing the jocular nature of social media. In other words: social media is a notorious platform for overblown smack talk and satire, and the average person wouldn’t believe The Game’s accusations, so, his statements shouldn’t be considered defamatory. Now, launching such a defense is a stretch, but if done well, could be effective.

This case comes along at a time when cyber libel law is in a state of flux. In fact, recently, former Bangles cheerleader (and Mary Kay Letourneau prodigy), Sarah Jones, won a defamation lawsuit against another social media-like site, TheDirty.com. The case was significant because the website’s operator, Nik Richie, wasn’t granted CDA Section 230 immunity. Instead, the court held Richie liable for online defamation.

What makes this case worth noting is that it’s one of the first high-profile Instagram defamation lawsuits.

Disgraced Politician Sued For Defamation By Finance Fat Cat

Eliot Spitzer 237x300 Disgraced Politician Sued For Defamation By Finance Fat CatThis defamation suit comes to us from the “disgraced politicians and the people who loathe them” file.

Former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer is being sued by Maurice” Hank” Greenberg for defamation of character. On Friday, July 12th, 2013, the Supreme Court in New York’s Putnam County accepted the defamation suit, just before the statute of limitation ran out.

Hank Greenberg is accusing the now candidate for city comptroller with discrediting and damaging his reputation. The suit states that from 2004 to 2012, Mr. Spitzer exacted a campaign to build his own reputation by tearing down Mr. Greenberg’s.

Hank and Eliot have a history. While Spitzer was the New York State Attorney General, he pointed a very large finger at Hank Greenberg, accusing him of accounting fraud and exaggerating AIG’s earnings. The accusations resulted in Greenberg’s 2005 resignation from AIG. Greenberg has consistently denied the charges; however, AIG later settled with federal and state securities regulators to the tune of $1.64 billion, and admitted to deceptive business practices. Till this day, Spitzer maintains his allegations against Hank Greenberg are true.

The defamation lawsuit highlights Mr. Greenberg‘s good reputation as a successful business man and philanthropist. It also makes sure to point out Mr. Spitzer’s extramarital short comings, in addition to reports that he used a personal email account to gather information on political opponents and allegedly misused the State Police for his own needs.

Specifically, Greenberg’s defamation lawsuit highlights Spitzer’s statements in a May 2012 New York Law Journal interview.  In the interview conducted by John Caher, Mr. Spitzer accused Greenberg of running AIG “in a corrupt way.” Spitzer also averred, “Greenberg ran from answering questions when I was attorney general until the statute of limitations had run; he was thrown out by his own board, and his accounting was fraudulent”. The suit insists these statements are false.

A month later, in June of 2012, Eliot Spitzer, in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, made statements regarding Greenberg running a “corrupt company” and “committing fraud”. “Lets deal with reality here; Hank Greenberg’s accounting was fraudulent,” opined the former NY governor.

The suit comes right when Spitzer begins his campaign to rebuild his tarnished career. In response to the action, Spitzer has called the lawsuit “frivolous” and says he “will be happy to discuss the relevant facts in the days ahead.”

Hank Greenberg is now also facing fraud charges brought by Eliot Spitzer during his tenure as Attorney General. Greenberg is arguing the fraud suit is not valid because of a $115 Million settlement accepted as a resolution to a class action lawsuit against him and Howard Smith (former chief financial officer of AIG).

Leslie Davis v. Jesse Ventura: Round 4,815,162,342

Some defamation lawsuits are laugh-inducing; others fall into the “on-a-very-special-episode” category. And at times, a libel lawsuit surfaces that makes you cringe. Entertainment wrestler, turned Minnesota Governor, turned conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura’s lawsuit against Chris Kyle — a highly decorated Air, Sea and Land special ops (SEAL) solider — falls into the cringe-worthy camp.

Jesse Ventura Sued Chris Kyle

The story begins back in 2006. According to Kyle, he and Ventura met in a California bar where Ventura allegedly talked smack about the Navy SEALs. Being a proud SEAL himself, Kyle was not impressed with Ventura’s bluster, so he cold clocked the former Minnesota Governor.

Ventura adamantly denied the event. As such, when the story appeared in Kyle’s autobiography, Ventura filed a good ole fashioned defamation suit.

Litigation began, and then tragedy struck. Kyle was shot and killed by a returning solider with PTSD who he was helping readjust to civilian life.

Instead of dropping the suit, Ventura filed a motion to have Kyle’s wife added to the claim, so litigation could continue.

Enter the Rogue Environmentalist

Enter Leslie Davis – a notorious Minnesota environmentalist who hates Ventura the way die hard Yankee’s fans hate the Boston Red Socks. Davis’ disdain runs so deep he penned the not-so-best-selling book “Always Cheat: The Philosophy of Jesse Ventura.” His list of grievances against Ventura is long.

Now, it’s important to note that Davis has been a thorn in Ventura’s side for a long time. His devotion to pestering Ventura resulted in a 2003 restraining order for, according to court records, trying “to provoke [Ventura] by regularly engaging himself  and calling respondent names [and] making obscene hand gestures to him.”

But hey, a little court order didn’t keep the Ventura detractor down for good.

When Davis heard about Ventura’s move to add Kyle’s wife as a defendant in the defamation suit, Davis formally requested to intervene in the case. This is where things get interesting from a defamation law standpoint.

Could Davis’ Intervening in the Ventura v. Kyle Defamation Lawsuit Help Mrs. Kyle?

Under United States law, third parties can request to intervene in cases if they can prove a vested interest in the outcome. In this instance, Davis believes Ventura lied in a November deposition related to the defamation suit, so he wants the transcript made public. Essentially, Davis is saying potential fallacies may be lurking in Ventura’s deposition, which will affect Davis’ own legal issues (and matters of public concern, namely, the environment) with Ventura. On this occasion, Davis is arguing that his past legal strife with Ventura qualifies him as an interested party. He is also making the stretch claim that Ventura’s alleged “lies” led to his election, which resulted in “great harm to the environment.”(#goodluckwiththat)

Environmental politics aside, Davis’ argument on that score is weak (it’s simply tough to imagine a judge agreeing that a sole individual’s election was the direct cause of “great harm to the environment”). But is the “restraining order” argument valid?

Davis is representing himself at the hearing, so we’ll have to wait and see how he frames his argument.

In the meantime, though, it’s safe to say that if Davis is granted the opportunity to intervene in the Ventura defamation lawsuit, information that could become public might significantly help Kyle’s widow. After all, what if Ventura did lie in the deposition? And considering that Davis has kept a very close watch on Jesse Ventura for years, who knows, maybe he would be able to prove the former governor wasn’t being truthful in his deposition. Theoretically, any proof of dishonesty on Ventura’s part could severely hurt his chances of winning – and help Mrs. Kyle put this additional nightmare behind her.

Stay tuned.

A Defamation Tale That Would Make James Randi Cringe

psychic defamation 300x200 A Defamation Tale That Would Make James Randi Cringe
A psychic won a a wad of money because a newspaper intimated she was a fraud.

On this lazy Sunday, we’d thought we’d share an online defamation lawsuit gem from the “rile James Randi” file.

A psychic named Sally Morgan – whom, according to her lawyer, “performed in over 600 shows in more than 100 different theatres or venues to audiences stretching into the hundreds of thousands” – successfully sued publishers of the Daily Mail for defamation. They said she duped an audience into believing she had supernatural powers; she insisted her skills are legit and decided to sue for libel.

How Sally Morgan’s Psychic Defamation Case Began

Do you remember that Steve Martin movie, Leap of Faith, where he plays a healer? In the flick, he has a team of “spotters” who gather information about the hopeful masses at his revival-type gatherings. When the show starts, the helpers feed Martin all the information they gathered via a barely visible ear piece.

Well, the above scenario is what a pair of audience members describe as happening at popular clairvoyant Sally Morgan’s show in Dublin. Presumably in an attempt to discredit Morgan, they shared the sorted story on a radio program.

Having caught wind of the potential fake out in Dublin, Paul Zenon, a magician, included the pair’s anecdote in an article, which lambasted psychics, that he wrote for the Daily Mail. According to Morgan’s lawsuit, Zenon committed the ultimate civil wrong by calling psychics “charlatans” and accusing “Mrs. Morgan specifically of having used a hidden earpiece during her performance in order to receive instructions from her team which she then repeated on stage as if she had received them from the spirit world.”

Needless to say, Morgan was not impressed with Zenon’s piece. (Hey, if someone was trying to disparage your superpowers, you’d be ticked off, too.) After Morgan and the venue denied the accusations, and the Daily Mail refused to publish a retraction, the psychic hired Graham Atkins to litigate on her behalf, and then promptly filed a defamation lawsuit.

Morgan’s Powers Must Have Worked This Time – Because She Won! (Cue the James Randi Scream)

Either Mr. Atkins is a great lawyer, knows how to use “The Force,” or both. Because after what must have been some convincing litigating, abracadabra, Associated Newspapers was agreeing to pay ole’ Sally “substantial damages” for insinuating her psychic revivals were a scam. The Daily Mail even printed a robust apology:

“The Daily Mail withdraws the suggestion that Mrs. Morgan used a secret earpiece at her Dublin show in September 2011 to receive messages from off-stage, thereby cheating her audience, which it accepts is untrue.”

[Quizzical] Point ghost whisperers? (Regardless, we’re pretty sure there is at least one person considering using this case to support their own psychic defamation legal woes, Presley (a.k.a. Angel) – the 46-year-old Texas grannie whose visions resulted with a swat team swarming her neighbor’s farmhouse.)

If you need a defamation lawyer, contact Kelly Warner Law. We may not be psychic, but we know a whole lot about defamation law.