Last summertime, California’s anti-SLAPP law presented MSNBC host Rachel Maddow an early exit from a bogus defamation lawsuit brought by one of the few “news” stores that’s farther to the right than Fox News, One America News.
OAN claimed it had been defamed when Maddow referred to one of its hosts as a “Kremlin-paid journalist.” This comment referred to OAN “reporter” Kristian Rouz’s concurrent employment as a Sputnik “journalist.” Sputnik is owned by the Russian government and tends to produce exactly the sort of reporting you’d expect from such an arrangement.
As the court noted during its dismissal of the dres, Maddow’s position at MSNBC is one of a commentator — someone expected to give their opinion on world events. Thus, the stuff OAN was arguing( seriously) was defamatory was actually protected ruling. And it was informed opinion that had basis in fact: Rouz did work for Sputnik and did develop propaganda on the Russian government’s behalf.
Now, OAN owes MSNBC and Maddow some money. Losing a libel suit via an anti-SLAPP motion necessitates the victorious party can ask for legal fees. As Mary Papenfuss reports for Huffington Post, OAN’s parent company( Herring Networks) has been ordered to write a very big check.
Of course, the check isn’t as good as written quite yet.
Herring Networks President Charles Herring told the website Law& Crime in a statement that the company will appeal the costs.
No uncertainty Herring hopes to recoup the losses it imposed on itself by engaging in this BS lawsuit. But it seems unlikely the Ninth Circuit Entreaty Court will find in favor of the failed plaintiffs. This was a spectacular loss by OAN and its mother company. The lower tribunal shut the door on any rewrites by OAN, giving the stage for this court-ordered opening of OAN’s wallet.
Because there is no specified of realities that could substantiate a claim for defamation based on Maddow’s statement, the complaint is dismissed with racism.
The court’s order[ PDF] discusses all the procedural material — including OAN’s multiple contentions in favor of lower costs — before determining on a total:
The Court awardings Defendants fees in the quantities of $ 247,667.50 representing 53.5 hours billed by Mr. Boutrous at $1,150 per hour, 19.1 hours billed by Mr. Edelman at $1,050 per hour, 130.6 hours billed by Mr. Bach at $720 per hour, 127.9 hours billed by Ms. Moshell at $470 per hour, 15.8 hours billed by Mr. Rubin at $470 per hour, 14.9 hours billed by Ms. Gadberry at $280 per hour, and 1.3 hours billed by Mr. Amponsah at $265 per hour, and costs in the amount of $10,724.36.
The real lesson being taught here is how expensive it is to defend yourself from a bogus libel suit. Even in a state with a solid anti-SLAPP law, it was better costs hundreds of dollars to get a lawsuit dismissed. States without anti-SLAPP laws subject defendants to additional rounds of case, all of which increase the cost of defending against even the most ridiculous allegations.
That tell me anything, strong anti-SLAPP laws are a great deterrent. Would-be plaintiffs tend to be a bit more cautious when there’s a chance they’ll be paying everyone’s legal invoices, rather than simply their own.
Read more: techdirt.com