Abovethelaw.com Sued for "Nutty Professor" Comments
In November of 2009, Miami law professor Donald Marvin Jones sued the popular website Abovethelaw.com, along with its parent company and editor David Lat, alleging $22 million in damages. Jones had been arrested on suspicion of soliciting an undercover officer for sex, and Abovethelaw commented on the arrest, calling Jones the “Nutty Professor.”
Jones sued for this statement, and for damages he alleges arose from a collage posted by an anonymous commenter featured him soliciting sex. In his rather strangely-worded complaint, Jones makes allegations of false light, invasion of privacy and copyright infringement, and posits that each of these injuries was motivated by racism.
Each of these claims appears weak: False light is no longer recognized as a tort in Florida, and Abovethelaw.com is not legally liable for material posted there by other authors. Jones brought the suit in federal court, where there is no anti-SLAPP law. Even if the court were to apply the state’s anti-SLAPP law, Florida’s anti-SLAPP statutes do not protect statements such as those made by and posted on Abovethelaw.com about Jones.
See Jones v. Minkin, et. al., Case 1:09-cv-23256-MGC (Filed Oct. 27, 2009).