EFF has urged an Oregon district court in a friend-of-the-court brief to overturn a multi-million dollar defamation verdict against a blogger that could chill free speech.
In December, a jury found Montana blogger Crystal Cox liable for defaming Oregon lawyer David Padrick in a highly critical blog post and awarded him $2.5 million in damages. In its brief, EFF supported several arguments raised by Cox in her motion for a new trial, arguing that the court applied the wrong First Amendment defamation standard and that the jury’s award was excessive and unsupported by the evidence. Under the First Amendment, EFF argued, all speakers are entitled to the same defamation standard, regardless of their media status. Moreover, as most of the plaintiff’s “reputational harm” came as the result of protected speech, the jury’s $2.5 million verdict was unsupportable.