Former Activist/FBI Informant v. Major Newspaper and Reporter
Sedgwick obtained summary judgment on behalf of our clients, a major newspaper and one of its reporters, in a $187 million defamation suit filed in Texas state court. The plaintiff, a former activist and FBI informant, sued our clients for an article they wrote about a then-recent arson at the Texas governor’s mansion and a possible link to some local activists, including some who were involved in protest activity at the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC). The article, which was primarily about the mansion bombing and the suspected arsonists, included one sentence that mentioned the plaintiff and advised readers that the plaintiff was working undercover as an FBI informant at the 2008 RNC and had informed authorities of a plot by two men to use incendiary devices at the convention. The one sentence also mentioned - after advising readers that the plaintiff had alerted authorities to the plot – that the plaintiff had encouraged the men’s activities. Sedgwick filed an answer and, very soon thereafter, a motion for summary judgment asserting affirmative defenses of truth or substantial truth, privilege, no defamatory statement, lack of actual malice – which the plaintiff was required to prove to defeat the privileges – and other defenses. After a hearing on our clients’ motion for summary judgment, and before any depositions had been taken, the court dismissed the case in its entirety.