Tuesday, February 8, 2005
A Louisiana appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against New Orleans television station WVUE Channel 8 for reporting allegations that the plaintiff, a minister, had been accused of embezzling funds from his church. The court found that the station and its reporter did not state that Reverend Norwood Thompson did not embezzle, merely that he had been so accused. Further, because he was and is a public figure and the matters involved are of public concern, "we find that the speech contained in the WVUE broadcasts was speech that was protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as under La. Const. Art. I, § 7. Therefore, the allegations in the second amended petition are subject to the provisions of La. C.C.P. art. 971. As discussed above, article 971 provides that a cause of action based on the furtherance of a person's right of free speech is subject to a special motion to strike except when a court has determined that the plaintiff in the action has established a probability of success on the claim. In the instant case, the trial court did not find that Reverend Thompson had established a probability that his claim against WVUE would succeed." The case is Thompson v. Emmis Broadcasting, 2005 La. App. LEXIS 62 (2005).
It's Mardi Gras. From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, laissez les bon temps rouler!