Two law professors may proceed with their defamation claim against West Publishing Corp., a federal judge has ruled.
In David Rudovsky & Leonard Sosnov v. West Publishing Corp. et al. (NO. 09-cv-00727), U.S. District Court Senior Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania John P. Fullam rejected the defendants' argument that Pennsylvania was an improper forum to hear the case because the parties' contract selected Minnesota, home of the legal publishing giant, as the venue for any dispute.
Rudovsky of the Univ. of Pennsylvania Law School, and Sosnov of Widener University School of Law, co-authors of "Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure: Law, Commentary and Forms" (1987), allege that West damaged their professional reputations by including a poorly researched pocket part supplement to the text in December 2008, to which the authors did not contribute. In contrast to the average 150 cases the authors have added to the text in annual updates for more than two decades, the December 2008, pocket part added only 3 cases, according to the Complaint. The pocket part at issue listed the Plaintiffs as authors, but included "and the publisher's staff" in the byline as well. The defendants subsequently informed subscribers that the pocket part contained errors and that neither Rudovsky nor Sosnov had anything to do with its preparation. The defendants, "in rather small print," as Judge Fullam noted, offered subscribers who so requested, a financial discount on future pocket parts.
Judge Fullam ruled that the case could proceed in Pennsylvania, rather than Minnesota, because the Complaint was not grounded in the parties' alleging breach of contract, but rather, in alleged tortious conduct by the publisher after the contract was terminated. Judge Fullam, however, denied the Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction.