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ARTICLE ID 195329

JUDGMENT Defamation case – Blogger allegedly defames plaintiff newscaster by claiming plaintiff was part of a criminal conspiracy, and was a paid political operative.

Hudson County, NJ

This defamation case was brought by a radio newscaster who contended that defendant bloggers defamed him by falsely writing that the newscaster was part of a criminal conspiracy to steal emails from the current mayor of Hoboken.

The plaintiff also maintained that he was defamed when the defendants indicated that the plaintiff radio journalist was a paid political operative. The plaintiff was determined to be a public figure due to his active involvement in local politics. Accordingly, actual malice had to be proven. The plaintiff supported actual malice that could be shown by the defendants’ failure to conduct a thorough investigation before publishing the statements.

The defendants denied that any failure to check all potential sources that would be sufficient to permit the inference of malice to be made. The defendants also argued that evidence of ill will – or that the defendants’ dislike of the plaintiff – was inadequate to support the claim of malice.

The defendants further contended that the contents of the plaintiff’s hard drive and internet server did reflect that he was in receipt of numerous emails of the Mayor within days of them being sent to her and that, accordingly, the statements were true.

The defendants also maintained that the plaintiff remains a newscaster, and has not suffered damages.At the end of the plaintiff’s case, and after approximately two weeks of trial – the court dismissed the action. The court held that there was inadequate evidence of required actual malice, harm to reputation, and pecuniary damages. The jury never had to decide the truthfulness of the statements, because the complaint was dismissed.

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