Image via WikipediaAttorneys for West Publishing are appealing a $5 million libel verdict awarded to two law professors last December by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In David Rudovsky & Leonard Sosnov v. West Publishing Corp. et al. (Case No. 09-cv-00727-JF), the plaintiffs, Rudovsky, of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Sosnov, of Widener University School of Law, each was awarded $90,000 in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages. The two professors co-authored West's Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure: Law, Commentary & Forms in 1987 and continued to provide yearly updates, or pocket parts, containing recent cases and revisions to the law, for roughly two decades before walking away from the project in a dispute over compensation and royalties.
West published a pocket part in 2008 that contained only three cases and omitted significant changes in the law, in a version that listed Rudovsky & Sosnov "and the publisher's staff" as the authors. The plaintiffs sued for defamation and right of publicity invasion of privacy, among other claims, asserting that their reputations were tarnished in the academic community by being associated with the shoddy update. (See "TUOL" post 6/10/09.)