You Mean They’re Suing Lawyer/Bloggers Now?
Guess I better be careful. But apparently, Chicago lawyer Meanith Huon is suing the legal blog, Above The Law based on a posting that he says incorrectly implied that he’d been arrested multiple times for sexual assault, when in fact, he’d only been arrested once. He believes that calling him a serial offender, as opposed to accurately reporting that he’s only been arrested once, is worth $50 million. Is it any wonder people make lawyer jokes? But the suit raises two interesting issues as far as I can see. The first is the concept of “incremental harm.” And that is, there comes a point where even untrue information isn’t actionable simply because it just doesn’t really cause any more harm than the truth. Let’s say Tiger Woods was unfaithful 5 times. If I report it was 6 times, the incremental harm defense would apply. It will be interesting to see if it applies here. One could argue that the difference between one arrest and two arrests is more significant than even the difference between 2 and 3. But the other issue is whether the federal Communications Decency Act will apply here. That Act says that users and providers of interactive computer services (it would include bloggers) are not deemed the publisher of content provided by third parties. Huon’s complaint is that Elie Mystal, the blogger, linked to two stories that talked about Huon and in so doing, gave the impression that Huon had been involved in multiple incidents. In fact the stories to which she linked were all about the same incident. But she didn’t write those linked stories, and she never actually says Huon was a multiple offender. So the only way to get to the conclusion is based on the juxtaposition of the third party content. And if Mystal is not the “publisher” of those linked articles, she can’t be liable for defamation. This will be interesting. But let’s just hope that this notion of suing lawyers with blogs doesn’t catch on.