Just Because You Don't Like What People Say About You, Doesn't Mean You Get To Sue For Defamation

from the nuisance dept

We've written plenty of times about public interest organization Public Citizen, mainly concerning efforts by its litigation group to protect those who have been sued in bogus lawsuits that would impact the internet's openness. However, every so often Public Citizen itself gets sued. Late last week, it revealed all of the details of a defamation lawsuit filed against it, concerning its letter to the FDA arguing that a certain product -- the LipoTron -- was being illegally marketed and promoted.

One of the organizations mentioned in the letter took exception to the claims in the letter and discussion on the web, and sent a cease-and-desist arguing that the claims were defamatory. In response, Public Citizen sent back a long letter backing up all of its claims (and also noting that they had never named the principal in the company, Mark Durante, so having him claim defamation personally didn't make much sense). This is the point where it makes sense to give up, but Durante's company, Advanced Aesthetic Concepts LP, sued anyway for libel, and asked the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO). When Public Citizen signed up a top local lawyer in Texas, pointed to Texas' new anti-SLAPP law (which would allow them to seek lawyers' fees), and told the lawyer that they were prepared to show up in court to contest the TRO, they were told that the case against them would be dropped.

At the very least, this yet again highlights the value of good anti-SLAPP laws in protecting those who are sued. But, once again we're amazed at how many people seem to think that filing defamation lawsuits in situations like this could possibly bring about a good result. In this case, all it's serving to do is call significantly more attention to the original claims that Public Citizen made in its original letter to the FDA (and then backed up in the legal filings).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Alana (profile), Sep 5th, 2012 @ 8:29pm

    But...But...But... Defamation!

    /s

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2012 @ 4:05am

      Re:

      but but but tocks!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      Bergman (profile), Sep 6th, 2012 @ 5:45am

      Re:

      But...But...But...Streisand Effect!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        Michael Long (profile), Sep 6th, 2012 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re:

        "In this case, all it's serving to do is call significantly more attention to the original claims that Public Citizen made in its original letter to the FDA."

        The key words here are: "In this case."

        I would say that for every time we see the "Streisand Effect", dozens of such lawsuits are filed and won by default when the individual or company lacks the time or resources to defend itself and simply folds under the pressure.

         

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    Wally (profile), Sep 5th, 2012 @ 8:43pm

    Texas may have produced Lamar Smith, but man alive you have to admire those anti-slap laws. I hope we get those on a federal level.

    Thank all you TechDirt folks for allowing me a moment for wishful thinking :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    abc gum, Sep 6th, 2012 @ 5:57am

    "You Get To Sue For Defamation"

    AFAIK, one can sue for most anything regardless of how silly or stupid. If one persists, eventually there will be repercussions for filing frivolous suits. Many believe this point is not reached soon enough.

     

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