Author Archives: Leslie Machado

Reflections on the Mann v. CEI Oral Argument

Two days before Thanksgiving, your intrepid blogger joined approximately 60-70 others in the DC Court of Appeals’ ceremonial courtroom to watch the Mann v. CEI oral argument. The panel was comprised of Judges Ruiz, Beckwith and Easterly (who authored the Court’s decision in Burke v. Doe).  Here are my impressions. 

Temperatures Rise in Mann Libel Suit

It has been a few months since I wrote about Michael Mann’s libel suit against National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and two contributors.  During that time, the parties have been very busy in both the Superior Court and DC Court of Appeals.  Here is what you might have missed.

Reflections on the Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group Argument

I attended the Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group argument at the DC Circuit last week. (You can listen to the argument here).  Here are my impressions. I agree with Politico that it seems unlikely that the Circuit will reverse the district court’s dismissal of the complaint as none of the three members of the panel quarreled with the district court’s reasoning.  Rather, the central question in the appeal now appears to be whether the DC Circuit needs to conclusively decide whether the DC anti-SLAPP statute applies in federal court (the “Erie” issue) or whether it could sidestep that issue and …

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Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group DC Circuit Panel

The DC Circuit has announced that the Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group appeal will be heard on October 20, 2014 before Circuit Judges Kavanaugh, Srinivasan, and Senior Circuit Judge Edwards. For the background facts giving rise to the case, the proceedings in the district court and the issues on appeal, see my posts here, here, here, here, and here.  For now, however, I thought I would take a quick look at prior defamation/libel/First Amendment decisions involving these judges.

David v. Goliath in DC Superior Court

A “David versus Goliath” battle is playing out in the DC Superior Court, with the DC anti-SLAPP statute in the role of the slingshot.

Evidence That Defending a Libel Suit = Big Dollars

When it enacted the DC anti-SLAPP Act, the DC Council recognized that SLAPPs “have been increasingly utilized over the past two decades as a means to muzzle speech or efforts to petition the government on issues of public interest.” The Council explained that “the goal of the litigation is not to win the lawsuit but punish the opponent and intimidate them into silence” because “defendants of a SLAPP must dedicate a substantial amount of money, time and legal resources.” As we pass the three-year anniversary of the effective date of the DC anti-SLAPP Act, we now have a more precise …

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Doctor’s Slapp at Yelp Reviewer Largely Dismissed by DC Superior Court

Yelp, and websites like it, have certainly added to the development of law in the First Amendment area. The Virginia Supreme Court is poised to decide the standard for unmasking anonymous commentators on websites like Yelp.  Last month, a Texas law firm filed a defamation suit against a former client over his Yelp review; stay tuned for the likely anti-SPAPP motion there. Which brings us to Dr. Akl and his former patient, John Kandrac. Kandrac visited Alk’s Washington Travel Clinic, and had a poor experience.  He posted a review to Yelp in which he gave Akl one star (out of …

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PissedConsumer.com SLAPPs Back

From the land of Wayne Newton and Brittney Spears comes news of an interesting lawsuit implicating the Nevada anti-SLAPP statute.  Techdirt.com explains that the lawsuit, Opinion Corporation d/b/a PissedConsumer.com v. Nevada Corporate Headquarters, came after Nevada Corporate Headquarters twice sued Opinion Corporation, which runs the website PissedConsumer.com (which, as its name suggests, allows consumers to complain about companies). According to the complaint, Nevada Corporate Headquarters’ first lawsuit was dismissed because of 47 U.S.C. § 230.  (Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects websites against libel suits for otherwise defamatory comments/statements made on the website, as long as the website …

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Could the DC Circuit Decide the Abbas Appeal While Avoiding the “Erie” Issue?

I have previously explained that Yasser Abbas’s appeal from the district court’s decision, granting the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, will likely force the DC Circuit to decide whether the DC anti-SLAPP statute applies in federal court (“the Erie issue”) because, unlike the Sherrod appeal (which also involved timeliness issues) and the Farah appeal (in which the motion to dismiss was also granted under Rule 12(b)(6)), the Abbas complaint was dismissed only under the DC anti-SLAPP statute and there are no other potentially dispositive issues (e.g., timeliness). As such, the threshold question of whether the statute applies in federal court might be outcome …

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DC Court of Appeals Holds that Denial of Motion to Quash Under DC Anti-SLAPP Statute Is Immediately Appealable

Yesterday, in its first decision interpreting the DC Anti-SLAPP statute, the DC Court of Appeals (DC’s highest court) held that: –           the denial of a special motion to quash under the statute is immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine; and –           a party making a motion under the DC anti-SLAPP statute does not need to disprove, in the first instance, that it was not commercially motivated. (For background on the Burke v. Doe case, see here).

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