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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Michael Bloomberg, Adventure Outdoors, Bob Barr, and Libel

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr is representing a gun dealer suing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for libel.  The gun dealer, Adventure Outdoors, was named in a public nuisance suit brought by the City of New York against a number of dealers to stop "straw-person sales."   At a news conference concerning the suit, Mayor Bloomberg  called the dealers targeted in the suit a “group of bad apples who routinely ignore federal regulations” and stated that they had “New Yorkers’ blood on their hands.”  Barr sued for libel on behalf of Adventure Outdoors, and Bloomberg's lawyer Peter Canfield invoked Georgia's Anti-Slapp law.  The law requires, among other things, that a libel plaintiff file a "verification" that his claim is well-grounded or filed in good faith.  Barr refused to file the verification, and the trial judge dismissed his claim.  Barr then appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, where, according to a newspaper account, he continued to make the fairly ridiculous argument that  Georgia's anti-SLAPP law did not apply because the defendant's speech was defamatory.  This argument is ridiculous because the anti-SLAPP law is designed to prevent plaintiffs from using frivolous libel claims to chill free speech; if all it takes to get around the anti-SLAPP law is an allegation of libel, then it really wouldn't be of much use, now would it?   Barr also made the more plausible argument that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply to Bloomberg because he isn't a Georgia citizen.    The story is in the Daily Business Review.

Posted by Lyrissa Lidsky on September 14, 2010 at 04:39 PM in Current Affairs, First Amendment, Lyrissa Lidsky, Torts | Permalink

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Comments

"Barr, humbug" say I as he "Bobs" for the Big Apple's Bloomberg. George ain't so peachy.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | Sep 15, 2010 7:10:24 AM

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