Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Thomas Cooley Law School Sues Lawyers and Bloggers for Defamation

Who exactly has standing to complain of defamation here?  What am I missing?  (I haven't read the complaints, I should add, I am just going off the news story.)

http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2011/07/thomas-cooley-law-school-sues-lawyers-and-bloggers-for-defamation.html

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Whether or not the defamation causes of action are mispleaded, the complaints also include counts of tortious interference with business relations. The complaints themselves are on Cooley's website at http://www.cooley.edu/newsevents/_docs/2011_07_14_Summons_and_Complaint_startpage.pdf and http://www.cooley.edu/newsevents/_docs/2011_07_014_Summons_and_Complaint_startpage.pdf

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Jul 15, 2011 9:40:03 AM

A corporation can be a defamation plaintiff. See, e.g., Restatement (Second) of Torts section 561.

BL COMMENT: Thanks, I didn't realize the Cooley Law School was incorporated.

Posted by: Chris | Jul 15, 2011 11:03:31 AM

The problem is going to be damages. Since this is a business, the tort is injurious falsehood (restatement's name for it). Though an individual in this case could claim this is defamation per se, and thereby get presumed damages, a business needs to establish pecuniary damages. Even if enrollment is down at Cooley, it would be difficult to show a link between the activity of these bloggers and the reduced enrollment.

Posted by: Beau | Jul 15, 2011 6:54:31 PM

Cosign Beau. I don't have data on injurious falsehood claiming but defamation is exceedingly tough for plaintiffs. The recurring paradigm is win at trial (if the judge lets the plaintiff over the "special damages" hurdle and doesn't dismiss), lose on appeal. Cooley has next to zero chance of collecting a penny. It's probably hoping for some kind of non-monetary victory. It won't get that either.

Posted by: Anita Bernstein | Jul 16, 2011 9:10:29 AM

Don't they really want an injunction? Bloggers do not have money; the firm might - but it is really difficult to calculate damages in a case like this.

Posted by: DARREN HUTCHINSON | Jul 18, 2011 6:10:25 AM

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