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Ohio


Federal judge dismisses Murray energy defamation suit
ACLU calls the suit a SLAPP suit, designed to intimidate activists
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
This blog launched the lawsuit, and Murray still has week's to appeal its dismissal.
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A federal judge in Columbus has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the owner of the country’s largest privately held coal company against an online journalist and the Huffington Post. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that the ACLU of Ohio has also launched a do-it-yourself kit to defend against what it regards as such “SLAPP suits.”

LISTEN: Murray defamation suit is dismissed

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The lawsuit was filed after the blogger, Mike Stark, posted a piece that began with the headline: “Meet the Extremist Coal Baron Bankrolling Ken Cuccinelli's Campaign.”

The billionaire he was referring to was Robert Murray, whose Ohio operations and political positions have drawn a lot of attention over the years. Murray sued, claiming defamation and invasion of privacy. He said the statements were false and caused him and his family “great mental anguish and emotional distress.”

U.S. District  Judge Robert Frost threw the suit out this week at the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union. It calls such suits SLAPP suits, which stands for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.

The ACLU’s Jocelyn Rosnick says such suits are designed to intimidate.

“And most of the time the individual or corporations that are filing the slap suits are the haves, they have a lot of resources… And those that usually get slapped are those with less means.  … One of the goals is to bleed the person who got slapped of their resources. That would be time and money.”

Murray did not respond to a call or e-mail asking for comment, and has more than three weeks to appeal. Meanwhile, the ACLU has posted an on-line toolkit for activists who may face such suits. 

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