Cornell Researcher Sued for Town Hall Testimony

In 1998, Professor Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University, was sued for defamation by nursing home company Beverly Enterprises, Inc. over testimony she gave at a congressional town hall meeting.

The district court held that her statements were privileged communications made in the course of a legislative proceeding and dismissed the suit. Bronfenbrenner said:

I am deeply gratified that not only has the lawsuit against me been dismissed… and that [the] decision prevents Beverly from pursuing their effort to gain access to my confidential research data on union and employer behavior in organizing and first contract campaigns. This is a relief not only to me, but to the people I surveyed, and to all other researchers in other fields who have been watching my case very carefully. For, if Beverly were to succeed in gaining access to any of my data, researchers across the country would be hesitant to speak about their findings publicly, in articles, lectures, speeches and congressional hearings, for fear that they, too, might be forced to hand over their raw data to the very groups their research criticized.

See Beverly Enterprises, Inc. v. Bronfenbrenner.

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