Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 13, 2007

More On Monday's Ellison/FBI Ruling

At Journalista, Dirk Deppey has provided a link to the ruling from yesterday's motion-to-strike hearing in the Harlan Ellison v. Fantagraphics, Inc., et al lawsuit. The Hon. Audrey B. Collins did not find the defense's anti-SLAPP arguments -- that Ellison's suit was effectively an attempt "to chill the defendant's exercise of First Amendment rights" -- sufficiently persuasive:
"The principal thrust or substance of the Plaintiff's [Ellison's] defamation case arises from the Defendants' [Fantagraphics, Gary Groth and Kim Thompson's] published statements regarding Plaintiff's propensity to 'wheedle' or 'scheme' out of paying his legal bills in the prior litigation. These statements were not made in connection with an issue under consideration by a judicial body and are therefore not protected activity under Section 425.16, subdivision (e) (2)...

"Defendants' allegedly defamatory statements were also not made in connection with an issue of public interest under Section 425.16, subdivision (e) (4). Defendants argue that Plaintiff's interaction with his counsel and co-defendant during the prior litigation should be considered a matter of public interest because it was a well-known lawsuit involving a well-known author. That is not enough."

While Collins recognizes the broad interpretation of the concept of public interest contained in the Anti-SLAPP statute,
"Recognizing an issue of public interest on the facts here would be an even greater stretch of the concept of 'public interest' and is unwarranted."

Collins denies the defendants' motion to dismiss Ellison's Right of Publicity claim for essentially the same reasons. The ruling left the question of the relative merits of Ellison's suit to be determined in future legal proceedings.

This entry was written and placed by David P. Welsh as a favor to this site, without editorial intrusion.
posted 12:15 pm PST | Permalink

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