Judge Tells Coal Boss Bob Murray The Judicial Equivalent Of 'Eat Shit, Bob'

from the eat-shit,-bob dept

Remember Bob Murray? He’s the Ohio-based coal mining CEO who threatened and then sued John Oliver and HBO over this fun episode of Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight, which discussed the ridiculousness of our President’s focus on “coal jobs.” However, it also spent a fair bit of time talking about Bob Murray, Murray Energy, and how his actions did not appear to support actual coal miners. A prominent part of the story features the phrase (originally written by a coal miner at Murray Energy as part of the process to void a bonus check) “Eat Shit, Bob.”

As we noted, this was an obvious SLAPP suit with a bunch of ridiculous claims. On top of that, Murray and Murray Energy also sought an injunction silencing Oliver and HBO, which was classic prior restraint. There was some procedural back-and-forth as HBO sought to remove the case to federal court, which failed. State courts can be more of a crap shoot, but this was such an obvious SLAPP suit that it does not appear to have mattered at all.

On Friday, the judge sent a letter to the various parties which I would say is the judicial equivalent of telling Bob and his lawyers to “Eat Shit.” The letter makes it clear that the judge is going to dismiss the case, and agrees entirely with the arguments HBO made in its motion to dismiss:

The Court adopts, with little exception, Defendants’ arguments in support of their Motion regarding all issues addressed in the same.

This is not the official order, but that should be coming soon. The judge has asked HBO’s lawyers to “prepare and forward a proposed Order, including findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting the Court’s ruling. The same shall be forwarded within 20 days via email in Microsoft Word format to the Court…” and gives his own email address. Admittedly, that feels a little lazy on the part of the judge to basically ask the prevailing party to write his order, but I’m sure HBO’s lawyers are thrilled with the opportunity to make sure it says exactly what they want. I’ve seen parties submit “proposed orders” before — and have seen judge’s sign off on them — but don’t recall seeing a judge so directly ask for such a proposed order.

Either way, it’s a pretty quick and complete win for Oliver and HBO. Of course, if West Virginia actually had an anti-SLAPP law (spoiler alert: it doesn’t), then HBO could also make Murray pay their legal fees (including the fees they’ll charge for drafting the order dismissing the case). But, unfortunately, that’s not the case here. I’m still hoping that this now encourages Oliver to do an episode on anti-SLAPP laws, because it’s a topic that could certainly use his brand of exploration. In the meantime, Oliver did very briefly address the issue on his show last night, saying that now was not the time to discuss or gloat as the dismissal was not yet final (though promising he would address it in the future). Of course, while he was saying that, the human-dressed-in-a-squirrel costume, better known as, Mr. Nutterbutter, held up a sign saying “Eat Shit, Bob!” HBO hasn’t put this clip on its YouTube page for me to embed, but here’s a screenshot:

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Companies: hbo, murray energy

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Comments on “Judge Tells Coal Boss Bob Murray The Judicial Equivalent Of 'Eat Shit, Bob'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

> You do realize HBO posts all his shows on Youtube for free for anyone to watch, right?

Both their free offerings and Mike’s discussion here got me to add HBO to my SlingTV.

While HBO still sucks when it comes to fighting against the future, their posting of parts of Last Week Tonight to youtube for free is proof that they are a little better than everyone else when realizing that free can bring in far more money than locking everything up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, if you must know, imgur. Because that’s literally where that photo link goes to.

More generally, try anywhere on the internet? Seriously, this screenshot is all over the internet right now.

And considering it’s linked from imgur, and since it is the exact same frame as the screenshots a lot of other media outlets are using, Mike probably didn’t even grab the screenshot himself.

So yeah, what were you saying about assuming?

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Having HBO write the order is standard

Yes, it is super common to have the prevailing party write an order. Remember, the order has to hew closely to what the court granted based on the pleadings and transcript; if you tried to get away with anything, the other side would notice and raise it with the judge. Basically it’s just a way of letting the court save itself some time while ensuring that the party that knows best what it wanted and what was granted will shoulder the load.

I’ve frequently done this for judges in my cases.

Also, remember, an order is very straightforward. Opinions are not farmed out like that. They get farmed out to clerks working for the court.

Personally, the laziest thing I’ve seen was a judge who would just write “granted” or “denied” on the motion and enter it.

DB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Already being appealed?

Do you have a cite on the appeal?

Lawyers telling the press that they would appeal takes little effort.

Writing an appeal takes far more effort. It’s much more than writing “we want a do-over” and paying a filing fee. The weaker the case, the harder to find precedent that supports a claim of error.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Coal worker laughing his ass off?

“but if he was brought into the spotlight people would donate the money for him to fight it. He would probably also get lots of job offers at much better jobs.”

Possibly. But that still a lot of potential stress, attention, and time spent which I imagine a lot of people don’t want to deal with.

takitus (profile) says:

Re: “The same shall be forwarded within 20 days via email in Microsoft Word format to the Court...”

Yeah, that part of the letter was facepalm-worthy. We’ve finally nailed Microsoft to something like an open standard, and it would be nice if government officials wouldn’t implicitly demand people buy their stupid software.

Anonymous Coward says:

No, Murray WON in stopping more attacks. He raised the cost higher.

Law often works to the good even without a trial. You know why defamation suits are rather rare? — Because the risks are significant. Now and then some British serf backed by a major corporation will go too far, and get smacked, but bet it’ll be a long time before they dare again.

By the way, you don’t see Masnick publishing any more attacks, do you? — No, because he got taught that there may be BIG consequences.

Chilling speech is actually good for society. Masnick and Oliver only harm with their speech.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No, Murray WON in stopping more attacks. He raised the cost higher.

How did he win? The judge literally told him "you can’t sue people for that", and told Oliver "keep on trucking sir". And to prove it, Oliver even had the squirrel come back with a sign saying "Eat shit Bob!". Obviously he is NOT worried about further cost or retaliation.

Also, Mike didn’t get taught anything except that he was right all along. He even wrote about it. And I don’t see any change in his writings proving otherwise. There are plenty of articles that would qualify as "attacks" in your mind.

Chilling speech is actually good for society. Masnick and Oliver only harm with their speech.

You’re a moron and a fool. If you think that then you must absolutely love Russia, China, and North Korea. They must be the paragons of society to you.

You’re Delusional says:

Re: No, Murray WON in stopping more attacks. He raised the cost

It’s been a while but I wanted to come by to let you know that your comment aged like old milk. Oliver’s Eat Shit Bob musical was a glorious response both in its pettiness and overall quality. You couldn’t be more wrong if you were trying to be, it’s clear Oliver & HBO won here.

Plus, I’d like to think that the musical contributed to Bob Murray’s beautifully ironic and overdue death due to black lung. He probably aggravated and exacerbated it from all the screaming and crying he did after seeing it. Good riddance Bob Murray.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Good, but could have been better

While it’s nice that the case is almost certainly dead, would have been even better if Murray was actually punished for bringing such a blatantly obvious SLAPP suit.

Maybe if he actually had to pay out for trying to shut people up a few times he’d be more hesitant in trying to do so(probably not, but one can hope).

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