Friday, March 09, 2007

(Re)inviting the Slander

The resolution (pending appeal?) of the Blois v. MDE suit provides a teachable moment for the overly-litigious.

Defamation suits are a double-edged sword - if you win, great. But if you lose...

Well, you more than lose.

Look at it from Blois' perspective. He claimed that something MDE posted was defamatory to him and his business. When the suit was first filed, the story hit the papers, and the accounts, out of necessity, included the allegedly defamatory statement. Thus MDE's statement was spread to a much wider audience. That's really not such a big deal, since litigation was pending and it was still left to determine whether or not the statement was defamatory. All those stories included that fact too.

Flash forward to present day. The case is resolved in the defendant's favor. As before, the media report that story...

A judge threw out a libel suit this week against one of Minnesota's most popular conservative bloggers, issuing a ruling that put the political Web site on the same legal ground as newspapers and broadcast news outlets.

Michael Brodkorb, a political operative behind minnesotademocratsexposed.com, expressed relief at the dismissal.

***

St. Paul-based public relations executive Blois Olson sued Brodkorb in January 2006. The suit centered on a Brodkorb blog posting suggesting Olson criticized a Democratic congressional contender because her campaign had rebuffed political services offered by one of Olson's associates
.

...which repeats the same allegedly defamatory statement, only this time colored with the court's imprimatur of "NOT DEFAMATORY".

A statement that would have gone largely unnoticed by most, and forgotten within a week by all, is not only dragged back out into the public eye several months after it should have died an obscure death, but now the statement takes on an air of legitimacy.

So tell me now: who hurt Blois and his business more - MDE or Blois himself?

And let's not forget about all those legal fees...

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