Court Dismisses Lawyer’s and Client’s $120M Libel Lawsuit Against Legal Newspaper

Start at Beres v. Daily Journal Corp.Judge William Dimitrouleas, S.D., ruled Monday in favor of the petition. Fla.):

Plaintiff Christopher T. Beres, a Florida lawyer, and Plaintiff Andrew Delaney, one of Beres’ clients, bring one count for defamation against Defendant Daily Journal Corporation based on the Daily Journal’s publication of a two-part article….

According to the amended complaint, the Daily Journal published two articles entitled “The Daily Journal’s April 28, 2020 and April 29, 2020” Does Covid-19 Threaten Your Trade Secrets? It does. (Part I)Please see the following: Does Covid-19 Threaten Your Trade Secrets? Yes. (Part II). The plaintiffs claim that the articles have made them look bad. Plaintiffs also claim that these headlines are offensive because they “conclude” that [P]Six days later, the laintiffs were found guilty: “Yes it does,” Plaintiffs claim that Part I contains the following statements:

Trade secrets can be stolen or lost if an employee leaves. Consider the following potential scenarios: …

  • Unemployed employee can’t find new work, so he or she decides to utilize the trade secrets of his/her former employer as an income source. See, e.g., HC2 Inc. v. DelaneyNo. 2:20-cv-01178 (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York). The complaint alleges that a former employee of an legal staffing firm attempted to extort clients $450,000. He threatened to release confidential data after they had suspended their document review project because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plaintiffs claim that the “[e]Very large part of the bulleted paragraph’s first sentence is false because Delaney wasn’t “a terminated employee.” [who]Delaney could not find any new work”Take the decision To use trade secrets of the ex-employer as a source for income” and since there was no SDNY Action. Plaintiffs allege also that they were threatened with “confidential information disclosure” and subject to “extortion”. [t]he Daily Journal is a clear reference to Beres’s April 7, 2020 employment demand letter to Toyota …, thereby imputing these crimes to him.” Plaintiffs allege that the contents of the articles were “spread as a virus on social media” and cause substantial damage. Plaintiffs seek twenty million dollars ($20,000,000.00) in compensatory damages and one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000.00) in punitive damages….

According to the court of district, no

[1.] Beres, the lawyer, loses “because nothing contained within the article—including the statement, citation, and parenthetical—are ‘of and concerning’ Beres.”

[2.]Delaney is the only section of Delaney’s article that contains a parenthetical with accompanying citation. There are no material falsities in this portion. The parenthetical’s introductory phrase, “complaint alleges”, makes it clear that it only describes the allegations of the complaint and not that they are true. The parenthetical accurately describes these allegations: “An examination of the SDNY complaint and the parenthetical reveals that the parenthetical does not contain substantial or materially false allegations.”

[3.]Delaney can’t be believed on Delaney’s claim that the sentence preceding the citation and the parenthetical insult him. This material “presents only an hypothetical ‘terminated worker’ in a ‘potential situation,’ and the “‘see.e.g. denotes the numerous sources indirectly “Support the proposition,” not because the case itself is the literal equivalent of its predecessor. (The court cites as authority the Bluebook—likely the most broadly used legal citation manual—and a source related to it; that likely makes sense, I think, given that the article is aimed at a lawyer audience.)

To me, it seems perfect.