August 30, 2010

District Court Awards $10 Million in Punitive Damages Against Blog Publisher

Legal Blog Watch reports that the proprietors of a gossip blog called TheDirty.com have been hit with an $11 million default judgment, including $10 million in punitive damages.

I get a little uneasy whenever I hear about a punitive damages award for something published on a blog. We bloggers shouldn't have to live in fear of a big punitive damages award every time we sit down at the keyboard, right? Well, in this particular instance, it wouldn't have been too difficult to predict that the material in question would cause trouble.

The plaintiff, a cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals, alleges she was defamed when the blog reported accusations that she had sex with Bengal football players and had two venereal diseases. Did I mention that the plaintiff is not only a cheerleader but also a school teacher, and that the blog accused her of having sex in her classroom?

Anyway, Politico reports that the entire judgment may unravel because the plaintiff's lawyers inadvertenly named the wrong defendant in the lawsuit.

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