Category: Torts

Baldwin’s Trump Defense: How A Defamation Lawsuit May Be Baldwin’s Greatest Parody

Second Circuit Refutes Allegations Involving Law Clerk in Mediaite, Above the Law, and Other Publications

On October 5, 2021, the site Above the Law ran a story by Senior editor about what she described as a vehemently racist law student who was given a prestigious clerkship by William H. Pryor Jr., chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Above the Law has a long history of attacking conservatives, free speech advocates, and others deemed right of center. This story (which appeared earlier on sites like Mediaite) was perfect from that perspective and lit up the liberal media. That included a column by Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus asking “Why is a prominent federal judge hiring a law clerk who said she hates Black people?” The problem is that the Second Circuit found little evidence that it is true. The question is whether the accused student, Crystal Clanton, will now sue ATL, Mediaite, and other media outlets for defamation.

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Royally Eschewed: Court Rejects Prince Andrew’s Motion to Dismiss Giuffre Lawsuit

Florida Southern District Court

Prince Andrew lost a major ruling in his litigation with Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts), who claims that the Duke of York sexually assaulted her as part of the sex trafficking crimes of the late Jeffrey Epstein. In his 46-page decision, Judge Lewis A Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York adopted an extremely narrow reading of the settlement and eschewed the defense arguments on threshold barriers to any lawsuit. Kaplan declared the “defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint or for a more definite statement is denied in all respects.” Continue reading “Royally Eschewed: Court Rejects Prince Andrew’s Motion to Dismiss Giuffre Lawsuit”

The “Old Gray Lady” Versus The Masked Singer: The Times Seeks To Use Palin Music Video in Libel Trial

YouTube

We previously discussed a major ruling restoring the defamation lawsuit of Sarah Palin against the New York Times over a false claim related to the shooting of former United States Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Now, the New York Times is trying to introduce footage of Palin on “The Masked Singer.” The effort to introduce the video would seem to have no probative value and clearly is meant to ridicule Palin. Continue reading “The “Old Gray Lady” Versus The Masked Singer: The Times Seeks To Use Palin Music Video in Libel Trial”

The “Royal We” Provision: Newly Released Settlement Favors Prince Andrew as One of Epstein’s “Other Defendants”

The civil litigation between Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts) just took a “Big Lebowski” turn.

In the movie, there is a scene “The Dude” is pressed on what happened to a million dollars in a suitcase. He insists “We dropped off the damn money…” When the Big Lebowski asks “We?,” the Dude responds “I! The Royal ‘we’!…”

It turns out that the settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein contains what Prince Andrew might claim is a “Royal We provision.” In exchange for half a million dollars, the settlement expressly bars Giuffre from suing not just Epstein but “other defendants.” Prince Andrew is arguing effectively that the plural reference includes him. Continue reading “The “Royal We” Provision: Newly Released Settlement Favors Prince Andrew as One of Epstein’s “Other Defendants””

Ashley Biden’s Diary: Will The FBI Raid The New York Times?

The Christmas Eve order for the New York Times to return confidential legal material from the conservative publication, Project Veritas, has led many to decry the imposition of a “prior restraint” on the media. I joined in expressing those concerns about courts preventing a news publication and then ordering the return of material sent by a source. That issue will be now be addressed in the courts. One question, however, remains:  when will the FBI raid the home of New York Times publisher, A.G. Sulzberger? Continue reading “Ashley Biden’s Diary: Will The FBI Raid The New York Times?”

The Potter Verdict: Was The Jury Right But the Law Wrong on Culpable Negligence?

The conviction of former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter for manslaughter brought closure for the family of Duante Wright and many in our society. The fact, however, is that it will not bring closure on the long-standing debate over the criminalization of negligence in weapon confusion cases. Continue reading “The Potter Verdict: Was The Jury Right But the Law Wrong on Culpable Negligence?”

“Our Pride is Showing”: NBC Settles With Nicholas Sandmann

Former Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann has reached another settlement with a major news organization over the widespread false reporting of his encounter with a Native American activist in front of the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2019. Sandmann previously settled with the Washington Post and CNN. He has now settled his $275 million defamation lawsuit against NBC. Unfortunately, such damages have become the cost of doing business for many in the media in the age of advocacy journalism where the narrative is more important than the news. Having a MAGA-hatted, racist, pro-life high school student abusing an elderly Native American was a fact too good to check — even when it required as little as watching the unedited videotapes.  Continue reading ““Our Pride is Showing”: NBC Settles With Nicholas Sandmann”

The Gun Did It? Baldwin Denies Pulling The Trigger in Fatal “Rust” Shooting

Recently, I noted the curious scene of actor Alec Baldwin insisting with reporters that he has been given clear legal instructions not to discuss the shooting of Halyna Hutchins at the set of the movie “Rust” . . . and then making detailed statements about the shooting. Now, with an ongoing criminal investigation and various civil lawsuits expected to be filed, Baldwin has given a detailed statement to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, including a surprising claim that he never pointed the gun or pulled the trigger.  That interview may be one of his most watched scenes, particularly if he is charged criminally or sued civilly.[Update: Santa Fe’s Democrat D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies has stated that it is possible that Baldwin didn’t pull the trigger on the gun].

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“I’m Glad this is on Video, I’m Very Glad:” Texas Shooting Raises Difficult Questions Under Texas Self-Defense Law

Chad Read’s widow files petition to take custody of his children from their mother, releases...

Yale Law Students Sue Over Alleged “Blackballing” For Supporting Law Professor

We have often discussed how dissenting faculty and students are increasingly subjected to retaliation for the exercise of free speech or free association on campuses.  In many cases, such treatment involves shunning or blackballing by school administrators to prevent professors or students from participating in programs. That is the complaint by two law students (identified only as John Doe and Jane Doe) who allege that they were blackballed for supporting Professor Amy Chua, who was previously discussed as embroiled in a controversy at the school after she defended Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  The students make some shocking allegations against the Yale Dean and other administration officials.

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Too Clever By Half: Why Public Nuisance is Again at the Heart of a Public Health Debate

Below is my column in the Wall Street Journal on the ongoing opioid litigation and an important ruling out of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The product has become the latest battleground over the use of public nuisance to curtail products from paint to pills to guns.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Too Clever By Half: Why Public Nuisance is Again at the Heart of a Public Health Debate”

Arbery Trial Judge Delivers Massive Blow to the Defense on the Eve of Closing Statements

In the Georgia trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Judge Timothy Walmsley delivered a haymaker to the defense on the very eve of closing statements.  The court ruled that Georgia’s prior citizen’s arrest law is only applicable if a person sees a felony committed and acts without delay. The ruling could be “outcome determinative” in the case by stripping away the core defense that these men were chasing a person suspected of a series of crimes over the last year. Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan are likely to make this ruling the heart of any appeal if they are convicted. Continue reading “Arbery Trial Judge Delivers Massive Blow to the Defense on the Eve of Closing Statements”

Rittenhouse 2.0: Threats of New Litigation Fly in the Aftermath of Rittenhouse Verdict

In the aftermath of the Rittenhouse verdict, figures on both sides of the case threatened new filings and investigations. It seems likely that the case will move into a new stage of litigation, particularly civil litigation. However, advocates on both sides may be overstating the basis for a Rittenhouse 2.0.  These lawsuits can come with risks and considerable costs. That is why Voltaire once lamented “I was never ruined but twice: once when I lost a lawsuit, and once when I won one.” Continue reading “Rittenhouse 2.0: Threats of New Litigation Fly in the Aftermath of Rittenhouse Verdict”

“No One is Allowed to Touch Her!”: Child Bitten By Pet Monkey in Halloween House of Horrors

We had just finished discussing animal liability in my torts class when a bizarre case from Halloween surfaced involving the girlfriend of Texas special teams coach Jeff Banks.  The account involves a stripper known as Pole Assassin, a monkey used in her act, and a wandering child at the house of horror she created for Halloween . . .  and they say my torts exams are unrealistic. Continue reading ““No One is Allowed to Touch Her!”: Child Bitten By Pet Monkey in Halloween House of Horrors”