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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Motion to Dismiss in Catalanello v. Kramer Law Review Defamation Case

Back in early January, news broke that New Jersey banker and alleged anti-vegetarianite Robert Catalanello had sued Arizona State law professor Zachary Kramer over an article in which Kramer discussed then-pending litigation involving Catalanello (see Workplace, TaxProf, and Leiter for more).  Wash U, which published the article in its law review, and Western New England College of Law, where Kramer lectured on the topic, were also targetted.

This led to some discussion on the Research Dean Listserve and I'm sure on many faculties of whether professors should more aggressively negotiate with law reviews on the expansive indemnification provisions frequently included in publication agreements.

Defendant Kramer has now filed a motion to dismiss the case and to stay discovery.  In a March 11 memorandum of law in support of that motion, 2013 WL 1127784, defendant advances a combination of substantive and procedural arguments to convince the court to toss the case: (1) the "fair report" privilege applies since Kramer was discussing nothing beyond filed pleadings; (2) Kramer's article consisted of expressions of privileged opinion; (3) that the complaint provides only a cursory allegation of actual malice; (4) that Catalanello failed to provide a pre-suit notice to Kramer, an Arizona public employee, as required by that state's laws;  (5) that the NJ court lacks personal jurisdiction over Kramer; etc.

I expect the Court to grant the motion.  I would say more about what this lawsuit really tells us about Mr. Catalanello (up for reelection to the Madison Borough Council this fall), but I don't want to get my gracious hosts sued. Although I will  say that the suit itself does seem a bit at odds with the public positions taken by "Robert Catalanello"  on the Madison Patch web site that "tort reform is the only way to prevent ridiculous strike suits" and that he wants to "push ambulance chasing lawyers off the ladder" (!).

Earlier, Western New England and Wash U had moved to dismiss. See 2013 WL 798056 and 2013 WL 798056.

Posted by Geoffrey Rapp on April 3, 2013 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

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