Patterico's Pontifications


Two Libel Cases Destined To Go Down In Flames (Thank Goodness)

Filed under: Buffoons,General,Law — Justin Levine @ 9:08 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

Two prominent libel cases in the news.

First off, today will be the court hearing to toss out the defamation lawsuit against – one of the more high profile Internet libel suits going on right now. I made an early prediction that this lawsuit would lose from the start – and made a gentleman’s bet with a commenter who felt otherwise. (Be sure to read the comments section in the post – which has seemingly become one of the main Internet gathering points for debate about this case. But be warned, it gets ugly!)

Related links here and here. Interesting comments here. Meanwhile, The Happy Feminist is admittedly “unamused” at my misogyny. 

I’ll confess that I have some sympathy for the Plaintiff in the lawsuit. But I’m still very glad to know that his lawsuit will likely fail because of the bigger picture regarding threats to Internet freedoms. 

Such sympathies do not extend to Gary Condit, the Frankenstein Monster of libel lawsuits. He has regretfully risen from the grave once again. This time,

the defense attorney had the good sense to seek sanctions against the attorney who brought the lawsuit. That’s a good sign, and the court should definitely come down hard on him – even though has now asked to withdraw from the case. The majority of libel suits in this country are frivolous. They are simply ways to try and intimidate speaks with limited resources to fight in court. You have to fight these shysters the same you fight terrorism – show no signs of weakness, otherwise they will keep coming at you in the future. Dominick Dunne is learning that harsh lesson now, even after I tried to warn him

I long for the day when we develop a legal culture where civil attorneys are personally judged by the kind of clients and lawsuits that they take on. Attorney Mark E. Goidell deserves a very hefty fine. He should know better – and I have never bought into the excuse that lawyers are just conduits to serve whatever end and means the client hires him to do in the course of business. I hope to see more sanction motions against such lawyers in the future.

As for Gary Condit himself – I still can’t believe that this guy was actually one of the highest ranking members of the Congressional Intelligence Committee. It is beyond disgraceful to make a living by threatening people with lawsuits (even if you fail at trying to run an Baskin Robins ice cream store). 

Need an updated list of the Condit family’s legal exploits? Here we go…  

July 2001 – Gary Condit threatens to sue artist Terry Aley for using his likeness in a collage that commented on the Chandra Levy scandal. He also manages to get Ebay to remove Aley’s work from its auction site. (Condit backs down after Aley threatened to counter-sue for civil rights violations by a Congressman who was still in office).

February  22, 2002 –  Carolyn Condit sues National Enquirer for $10-million for a story that claimed that Condit’s wife had a heated discussion with Chandra Levy on the phone just days before she disappeared. (Settles out of court in 2003. Terms confidential – but Condit receives a public apology from the Enquirer as part of the settlement.)

February 26, 2002 – Lawyers for Carolyn Condit issue a “Demand for Retraction” letter to NBC over an episode of Law & Order that aired earlier that month. The episode contained a fictional story line featuring the disappearance of a 24-year-old aide to a state senator from her Manhattan apartment. The show’s ending implies that the wife of another official was involved in her death.

Condit’s lawyers insist that the show is a thinly veiled reference to their client and threaten to sue the show unless a retraction and apology is aired at the start of the next episode. (NBC and the show’s producers reject the letter and no legal action is filed.)

August 19, 2002 – Carolyn Condit sues the Star tabloid for $15-million over a story claiming that she threatened to commit suicide over her husband’s relationship with murdered intern Chandra Levy. (Apparently settled in July 2003.)

December 16, 2002 – Gary Condit sues writer Dominick Dunne for defamation over comments made nearly a year earlier suggesting that he may have been involved with Levy’s abduction. The lawsuit is filed just 4 days before the New York statute of limitations expires and asks for $11 million in damages. (Settled out of court in March 2005 for an undisclosed amount of cash – after Condit displays reluctance to answer questions in the case.)

July 2003 – Carolyn Condit files suit in New Mexico against USA Today, the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun newspapers for reprinting the allegations from the Enquirer article that sparked the February 2002 lawsuit. Complaints were filed in New Mexico because of its three-year statute of limitations concerning libel claims (whereas California’s one-year statute of limitations had already expired). The lawsuits seek “unspecified” damages. (Carolyn Condit voluntarily dismissed her lawsuits against the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun in April 2004. A New Mexico judge tossed out her lawsuit against USA Today in August 2004 for lack of jurisdiction – suggesting that the suit’s lack of connection with New Mexico was striking.)

December 2003 – Gray Condit sues the Enquirer, Star, and Globe tabloids for $209-million (not be confused with the previous lawsuits from his wife Carolyn). (Confidentially settles out of court in late August 2004.)

July 2006 – Gary Condit sues the Sonoran News, a weekly paper in Arizona, for defamation after it prints that Condit was the “main focus in the Chandra Levy case in 2001, after lying to investigators about his affair with Levy.” (Unclear what amount Condit was seeking or what the current status of the case is.)   [Update:  July 2007 – A judge dismissed Condit’s case against the Sonoran News. The judge noted that an affidavit provided by Condit did not deny that he lied to investigators, and that he balked at answering questions on whether he told investigators that he had a “romantic and-or sexual relationship with Chandra Levy.” The newspaper is now asking that Condit be forced to pay their legal fees.]

November 2006 – Gary Condit sues Dominick Dunne for defemation again after Dunne states on television, “I think [Gary Condit] knows more about what did happen than he has ever said.” (referring to Chandra Levy’s disappearance and subsequent murder.) (Condit’s attorney asks to withdraw from the case after being threatened with Rule 11 sanctions. Condit reportedly is still attempting to go forward with the case with new representation.)

Am I missing any lawsuits between December 2003 and July 2006? Quite possibly. If anyone finds any links or info, feel free to send them to me.

Meanwhile, The Condits have been sued by Baskin-Robins for mishandling the operations of two ice cream stores in Arizona. [Son] Chad Condit has also been sued for $2-million for mishandling political action committee funds established by his father Gary.

These people just need to quietly go away. That way, both they and the rest of society will be equally satisfied.

[posted by Justin Levine]

8 Responses to “Two Libel Cases Destined To Go Down In Flames (Thank Goodness)”

  1. Isn’t “Happy Feminist” an oxymoron?

    Doug (bfbba1)

  2. Doug: THAT’S NOT FUNNY.

    Voice of Reason (d737be)

  3. Man S&M Clubs must be charging a big premium these days. Condit sure seems desperate for cash.

    PS, any chance of getting a list of the KFI bumper music from yesterday?

    Gabriel (6d7447)

  4. Which show/time of day Gabriel? Did you mean Handel’s show?

    Justin Levine (40473d)

  5. So I guess “dump the skanky whore” is by default worse than “a slob and […] STD-ridden player and cheater” because it’s directed ad womyn, right? I guess some people just don’t understand reductio ad absurdum. I found it amusing that some of the commenters seemed to be of the opinion that you have to have done something to warrant getting, for lack of a better term, libeled. No one lies “exaggerates” just for personal gain ever, right?

    Henry Dorsett Case (71646f)

  6. Yeah its like that jerk doctor NEAL BERNARD and its idiot group PHYSICIANS COUNCIL for RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE filed astupid lawsuit to ma make them put dumb warning labels on milk. I say the only arning lebels we need are the ones on their health freaks with connections to PETA and other wackos

    krazy kagu (9a4519)

  7. Darn newbs…

    Scott Jacobs (90eabe)

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