Preacher sues gay rights organization
Louisiana preacher Grant E. Storms sued gay rights organization Action Wisconsin and its executive director Christopher Ott for defamation after Action Wisconsin issued an online press release on its website that said Storms had advocated the murder of gays in a speech he made in October 2003 at the International Conference on Homo-Fascism. Storms sued in Wisconsin state court.
Soon after Storms filed his complaint, Action Wisconsin warned Storms and his lawyer, James Donohoo, that it considered Storms' claim frivolous, as Storms was a public figure and would have to prove Action Wisconsin had acted with "actual malice" in publishing the press release. Action Wisconsin added that if Storms and Donohoo did not withdraw their claim, it would seek sanctions against them.
Storms and Donohoo did not withdraw their claim, however, so Action Wisconsin moved for summary judgment and for sanctions against Storms and Donohoo. The court granted both motions, finding that Storms's claims were frivolous as Storms lacked sufficient legal and factual basis to bring them. As a result, the court awarded Action Wisconsin more than $87,000 in costs and attorney's fees.
Donohoo appealed the court's decision to award costs and attorney's fees to Action Wisconsin, arguing that the court erred in determining there was insufficient basis to warrant Storms's claims. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed and overturned the award of costs and attorney's fees.
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