Friday, January 29, 2010
The Nebraska Supreme Court has affirmed the dismissal of a libel per se claim on grounds of absolute privilege. The complaint was filed by an attorney licensed in California. The attorney represents clients in Florida matters on a pro hac vice basis and has "apparently been unable to obtain a license in Florida. This in at least in part because of drug-related felony convictions that occurred in Nebraska 30 years ago."
The defendants in the libel actions were a former Florida client, who the attorney had represented until his pro hac status was revoked, and the client's new attorney. The plaintiff had filed a complaint against the new attorney with the Florida State Bar alleging that the lawyer had solicited the client. Plaintiff also sued lawyer and client for defamation in Florida.
Defendants learned that plaintiff was seeking a pardon in Nebraska and they opposed the pardon, "allegedly out of vindictiveness" for the Florida lawsuit. Defendant lawyer sent a letter on the client's behalf to the Board of Pardons asserting that plaintiff had lost his pro hac status due to misrepresentations, lied about his convicted felon status in order to vote in Florida, illegally practiced law and charged exorbitant fees. The libel suit was filed the day the pardon application was denied.
The court here agreed with the district court that the communications to the Board of Pardons were protected by absolute privilege. (Mike Frisch)