Arkansas Robert Steinbuch won an appeal to the Eighth Circuit in his case against former Senate aide to Mike DeWine, Jessica Cutler — the so-called Washingtonienne. Steinbuch sued after he was identified by initials by Cutler in her account of sexual affairs in Washington. It is a case of some significance for bloggers and those who keep online diaries that could be challenged as defamatory or violations of privacy.
Cutler’s 2005 book was based on an online sex diary became a rage in Washington, though I must admit to never seeing it (honestly). According to the complaint, the diary references Steinbuch by his initials, RS, and alleges that he engaged in various kinky sexual habits. Though the initials do not appear in the book, Steinbuch sued her and her publishers. Cutler, who was fired from the Senate and later posed for Playboy, promptly declared bankruptcy. It appears in her case that 15 minutes of infamy is a good as fame.
The specific claims in the lawsuit are based on alleging invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional
distress. The issue before the Eighth Circuit was whether Steinbuch would be given the opportunity to discover connections of the publisher Hyperion Books has “continuous and systematic” contact with the state of Arkansas. Only roughly 50 of the book were sold in Arkansas and U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson Jr. had dismissed Steinbuch’s lawsuit.
For a copy of the opinion, click here
For the docket in the case, click here
2 thoughts on “Grapes of Wrath: Law Professor Steinbuch Wins Appeal Over Book Detailing Alleged Affair with the “Washingtonienne””
They didn’t reach to the first amendment. It seems primarily a jurisdictional battle prior to the main show.
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