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:

Filed Under: anti-slapp, bob murray, defamation, eat shit bob, john oliver, mr. nutterbutter, slapp
Companies: hbo, murray energy


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  1. identicon
    Thad, 27 Feb 2018 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Good, but could have been better

    A federal one would be ideal.

    It's hard to imagine one getting passed by our current president, but on the other hand, he is utterly lacking in self-awareness. "A ban on frivolous lawsuits? Sounds great! Now when are we going to open up our libel laws?"


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