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February 2020

MediaLawLetter January 2020

PUBLICATION:
in this issue

Defamation Claim Over Above the Law Article Dismissed

Fair Report and First Amendment Bar Claim On January 6, 2020, the Massachusetts federal district court dismissed a defamation action over an article on the legal website Above the Law operated by Breaking Media, Inc. and authored by then editor-in-chief Elie Mystal. Jonathan Mullane v. Breaking Media, Inc. et al, 2020 LEXIS 1339 (D. Mass…

Letter to a Young Media Lawyer: Barbara Wall

By Barbara Wall When Jake Wunsch called to ask me to write an advice column for aspiring media lawyers, I was flattered—and a bit worried. I’d read the pieces written by George Freeman, Chuck Tobin, Victor Kovner, Tom Kelley and Jim Stewart, and I thought, what more can I add? Their columns were smart, funny,…

New York Court Orders Disclosure of Letter from Conflicts of Interest Board to Mayor De Blasio

Awards New York Times Its Attorneys’ Fees By Al-Amyn Sumar In a decision issued last month, a New York state court rebuked the New York City Mayor’s Office for unlawfully withholding a document sought by The New York Times Company (“The Times”) under the Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”). New York Times v. City of…

Third Circuit Confuses Statutes and Court Orders in Prior Restraint Analysis

By Jeff Hermes In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its opinion in In re Application of Subpoena 2018R00776, No. 19-3124 (Jan. 10, 2020). The ruling involved a First Amendment challenge to non-disclosure orders (“NDOs”) that accompanied a grand jury subpoena and subsequent search warrant directed to an electronic service…

Second Circuit Likely Ends 15-Year-Old “Torture” Allegations Against Chinese Journalist

By Bruce S. Rosen and Zachary Wellbrock The Second Circuit has summarily rejected a 15-year-old lawsuit which claimed that a well-known Chinese science journalist’s criticism of the spiritual practice Falun Gong actually incited prison guards and police throughout the country to torture adherents in China. Chen Gang v. Zhao Zhizhen, 18-3187 (Jan. 14, 2020). The…

Ninth Circuit Knocks Out Boxing Fan Class Action Over Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight

By Bethany Rabe, Mark Tratos, and Ruth Bahe-Jachna The Ninth Circuit has issued an opinion on a matter of first impression in that circuit: whether a spectator disappointed by a sporting event has legal recourse against the athletes, promoters, and others associated with the event. In accordance with two other circuits and several other cases…

New York Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Dow Jones

By Tom Leatherbury On December 19, a unanimous four-justice panel of the New York Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the dismissal of defamation and tortious interference claims brought by Dallas-based financial firm Highland Capital Management, L.P. against Dow Jones & Company, Inc., reporter Matthieu Wirz, and editor Aaron Kuriloff. Highland Capital Management v. Dow Jones….

New York Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment for WPIX

Station Not Grossly Irresponsible By Bruce S. Rosen and James Harry Oliverio The New York Appellate Division, First Department has rejected a libel plaintiff’s novel argument that a New York television station’s seven-month delay in taking down an erroneous news story created a separate cause of action or was grounds for declaring the station to…

Crain’s Wins Summary Judgment on Libel and False Light Claims

Former Tech CEO a Public Figure Based on Media Solicitation By Steven Mandell and Brian Saucier The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois entered summary judgment in favor of the publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business, its reporter and a former editor on plaintiff’s claims for defamation and false light invasion of privacy, finding that the…

Court Holds One-on-One Conversations With Government Officials Are Not Immune Under Fair Report Privilege

By Kristel Tupja The Supreme Court of Tennessee has held that the state’s fair report privilege only applies to official actions of the government or public proceedings, explicitly excluding one-on-one interviews or conversations with government officials. Burke v. Sparta Newspapers, Inc., No. M2016-01065-SC-R11-CV, 2019 Tenn. LEXIS 519 (Dec. 5, 2019). The White County trial court…

From the Executive Director’s Desk: Remembering Rick Ovelmen and John Borger, Stalwarts of the Media Bar

And Los Angeles Entertainment Law Conference Kicks Off MLRC’s 40th Anniversary By George Freeman Sadly, two well-respected stars of the media bar died in the last few months –John Borger and Rick Ovelmen. Both were very smart and effective media lawyers, beloved by their journalist clients, zealous defenders of the First Amendment and the right…