Judge denies National Review's Motion to Reconsider ruling in Michael Mann's defamation case

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Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Superior Court of the District of Columbia

"The Court finds that there is sufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate that Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits," said a DC Superior Court judge in her latest procedural ruling in the defamation case of Michael Mann v. National Review, et al. "The evidence before the Court indicates the likelihood that 'actual malice' is present in the [National Review's] conduct." 

On August 30 the Court denied the Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's July 19 order, which had affirmed Prof. Mann's right to proceed in his defamation lawsuit. The text of the August 30 Court Order is here in PDF.

Some excerpts from the Court Order denying Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration:

Defamation

... The Court finds that there is sufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate that Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits. As the Court stated in its previous Order, the NR Defendants’ reference to Plaintiff “as the man behind the fraudulent climate change ‘hockey stick’ graph” was essentially an allegation of fraud by Plaintiff. ...

The Court clearly recognizes that some members involved in the climate-change discussions and debates employ harsh words. The NR Defendants are reputed to use this manner of speech; however there is a line between rhetorical hyperbole and defamation. In this case, the evidence before the Court demonstrates that something more than mere rhetorical hyperbole is, at least at this stage present. Accusations of fraud, especially where such accusations are made frequently through the continuous usage of words such as “whitewashed,” “intellectually bogus,” “ringmaster of the tree-ring circus” and “cover-up” amount to more than rhetorical hyperbole. ...

The evidence before the Court indicates the likelihood that “actual malice” is present in the NR Defendants’ conduct. ...

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress ("IIED")

... The Court finds that Plaintiff’s claim for IIED is similar to that for defamation. There is sufficient evidence before the Court to indicate “actual malice.” The NR Defendants have frequently accused Plaintiff of academic fraud regardless of their awareness that Plaintiff has been investigated by several bodies and his work found to be proper. The NR Defendant’s persistence despite the findings of the investigative bodies could be likened to a witch hunt. In fact, Plaintiff had nothing to do with the Sandusky case yet the NR Defendants seized upon that criminal act by a pedophile and did more, this Court finds, than simply comment on another article.

The Court agrees with the arguments advanced by Plaintiff. To place Plaintiff’s name in the same sentence with Sandusky (a convicted pedophile) is clearly outrageous.

Stay tuned.

Earlier posts of documents in the case:

August 19: Michael Mann v. National Review et al. defamation lawsuit - new Plaintiff's briefs

July 19: DC Court affirms Michael Mann's right to proceed in defamation lawsuit against National Review and CEI

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11 Responses to Judge denies National Review's Motion to Reconsider ruling in Michael Mann's defamation case

  1. Desertphile says:

    The court found what was and is bloody obvious. There is hope for America after all.

  2. Martin Lack says:

    Congratulations to Michael Mann: The judge has rejected attempts to prevent this case proceeding. However, scientists must go further; and pursue those funding stunts like this... After decades of obfuscating science to protect their commercial interests, tobacco company executives were eventually prosecuted. We must now do the same to the leaders of the World's fossil fuel companies. This is the only way to wake up the majority of people on the planet to what has been going on for the last 50 years.

  3. Pingback: Judge Drops Hammer on Deniers: Climate Scientist’s Case against Slander Goes Forward | Climate Denial Crock of the Week

  4. Mal Adapted says:

    Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress ("IIED")? If I were Mike Mann I'd be distressed all right, but I presume the defendants didn't care about his emotional state, their objective was to poison the well of public understanding about climate science. I don't expect them to argue that in court, of course.

    • Greg says:

      Well, Mike has standing to sue over IIED, but he doesn't have standing to sue over poisoning the well of public understanding. :-) Unfortunately, in our legal system no one has standing to sue over the latter.

      • Martin Vermeer says:

        Yes that's true, but usually karma comes to the rescue: crooks will be crooks and they will always also do mischief mentioned in some statute book. They got Capone on tax evasion.

    • Raymond DeBrane says:

      Micheal Mann has had his life and family's life threatened in the past by climate deniers. Not sure if they are one and the same set of deniers, but having his life threatened is obviously going to cause emotional distress. The deniers in this court case kept impugning Michael Mann's reputation and making him prove over and over again that he has his facts together as repeated accusations of fraudulent science persisted. That is malice and it does cause emotional upset. Imagine if you had to keep proving over and over again that you were not guilty of a crime you could be punished for. That would certainly cause you emotional distress.

  5. chriskoz says:

    This latest finding is even closer to the "bloody obvious" judgement confirming all plaintiff's claims.
    The only question now is: how big damages will be awarded. Knowing Mike's impecable integrity as the Scientist and as the Man, I am sure he will make a good use of it, so I'm not concerned how high it's going to be: the higher the better. In the end, it's not the money at stake but the integrity and freedom of science and solid precedence to scare denialati movement from attacking the scientists.

  6. Russell says:

    Representatives and Senators may enjoy a measure of political immunity against becoming the namesakes of hurricanes, but Congressional aides who defect to K-Street lobbying shops and magazine and weblog editors remain fair game.

    All sorts of unpleasant phenomena might be rechristened in their honor , starting with the Morano Moraines left behind by retreating glaciers.

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