Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Roy Moore's Claims Against Sacha Baron Cohen Dismissed
In 2018, Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, former U.S. Senate candidate agreed to be interviewed by Sacha Baron Cohen. As is his wont, Cohen misrepresented the purposes of the interview. It did not go well, as you can see below, and the problems go well beyond Cohen's mock unibrow:
Moore and his wife sued Cohen for intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud. Moore added an additional cause of action for defamation.
In a ruling issued today, Judge John P. Cronan of the S.D.N.Y. dismissed Moore claims, as barred by a contractual waiver, and dismissed Mrs. Moore's claims as barred by the First Amendment. We have covered Mr. Cohen's encounters with the law of waivers before (linking to five other posts!). The outcomes have been pretty uniform. The only twist here is that Mrs. Moore didn't sign a waiver, but that's where the First Amendment comes in. Read all about it on some other blawg.
As to the contracts issues, Mr. Moore signed a consent agreement that expressly waived each of the claims that he attempted to bring. One might be concerned that the law should not protect those who knowingly commit fraud but get away with it because they made you sign a consent agreement in which you waived any fraud claim. New York law refuses to enforce "general releases." But this agreement was not a general release, and even if it were, even a general releases is enforceable where, as here, the release language clearly, unambiguously, and specifically encompasses the claims brought.