North Carolina SLAPP Stories
Sued for Speaking Out in North Carolina!
- During the 2008 elections, Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole was sued for defamation and libel because of a campaign ad against her democrat challenger, Kay Hagan. The ad questioned Hagans involvement with a group called Godless Americans PAC. Hagan quickly filed a lawsuit providing a deadline for when the ad should be pulled by and claiming that the ad was misleading. The lawsuit consisted of a “summons without complaint” and was eventually dismissed.
- During the 2006 school board election, candidate Ron Price was seen removing campaign signs for Congressman Brad Miller, a member of the opposing party, and a police report was written. Price won his own election and the county party organization did not press charges. But independent newspaper publisher Richard Moore, who also maintains the “Rockingham Tattler” website and hosts a television show on local politics, allegedly claimed in each of these venues that Price was a “thief” and a “crook.” Despite the fact htat he won his election, and clear state and federal precedent that such hyperbolic comments about a public official will rarely, if ever, sustain a claim of defamation, Price filed suit against Moore and Moore’s wife, seeking a restraining order and $140,000 in damages. Price v. Moore, No. 07CVS746 (N.C. Super. Ct., Rockingham County filed Apr. 20, 2007).
- During the 2005 Raleigh City Council race, a local organization ran ads indicating that, if candidate Thomas Craven were elected, he would raise taxes. The ads also showed Craven’s name and picture sticking out of the jacket pocket of a developer fat cat. Craven sued for, among other things, libel per se, an exceedingly narrow category of libel. The trial court dismissed, and the Court of appeals affirmed, holding that unkind political mailings that are hyperbole or opinion and cannot be mistaken for factual assertions simply do not constitute defamation. Craven v. SEIU Cope (Wake County No. 06-CVS-14559 Feb. 19, 2008)
- In 2008, Leslie Richard, who runs a small organic clothing store in Leicester, was contacted a company called Vision Media TV about featuring her business in a documentary. After further discussion, Vision Media then asked Richard for $25,000 upfront to finance the costs of including her in the documentary. Richard did some investigating and concluded that Vision Media TV was not exactly what they presented themselves to be. She wrote the story on her blog under the title “Scam Taking Advantage of Green Businesses,” and reported Vision Media to the Better Business Bureau. A few months later, Vision Media sued Richard in Florida federal court, alleging defamation and interference with business, and claiming damages of $20 million. Unable to secure an attorney, Richard wrote her motion to dismiss and to transfer venue pro se.