Week of February 1

DEFAMATION

The offense of injuring a person’s character, fame, or reputation by false and malicious statements. The tort of defamation includes both libel (written statements) and slander (spoken statements).

Ongoing Defamation Lawsuit Filed Against Al Jazeera Over "The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers"

Shortly after the documentary first aired on December 27, 2015, a defamation lawsuit was brought by Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and retired Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard against Al Jazeera America and parent Al Jazeera Media Network. However, a newly unsealed court document could pose a problem for the plaintiffs...


In a memorandum dated Jan. 28, attorneys for Al Jazeera asserted they are in possession of “sealed evidence” that “includes an invoice showing that, in autumn 2014, Howard paid for needles and an [MLB-banned] substance called human chronic gonadotrophin.” The memo also referred to “email exchanges between Zimmerman and Charlie Sly, the PES dealer who unwittingly revealed that Zimmerman used performance-enhancing substances banned by MLB.” Read more from Sportico here.


Zimmerman and Howard need to (1) prove that the documentary’s claims against them are false and damaged their reputations and (2) meet the “actual malice” standard for public figures in defamation lawsuits. To that end, they must establish that Al Jazeera America knowingly published false and damaging information. Further, the plaintiffs must be able to show Al Jazeera America acted with “actual malice” by airing the documentary. Among the standards for actual malice is that the plaintiff must show the author had serious doubts as to the veracity of what was being published or acted "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." NBC Sports.

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