Wednesday, April 27, 2011

60 Minute Egg: Poultry Co. Scrambles to DC Circuit Court to Appeal Libel Dismissal

Since the late-70s, 60 Minutes' opening featur...Image via WikipediaMar-Jac Poultry, Inc., v. Rita Katz et al (Case No. 11-0736), filed this week in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeks to reinstate a defamation suit incubating since 2003 until U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Rosemary Collyer last month granted summary judgment to defendants Rita Katz and CBS News' 60 Minutes.

As reported by the Legal Times blog, the suit arose from a segment aired by the popular tv news magazine in May 2003, involving an interview with researcher and self-anointed terrorist hunter Rita Katz, appearing in disguise and using an alias. In the story, Katz allegedly made defamatory comments about the Georgia-based plaintiff, purportedly linking it to terrorist financing.  The poultry farm was not verbally identified by name in the story, though the Mar-Jac name was displayed.

In her 34-page Memorandum Opinion granting defendants' summary judgment motion (Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc. v. Rita Katz et al. Case No. 03-cv-2422-RMC), Judge Collyer said, based on the flamboyant Katz's account, "no reasonable jury could find Ms. Katz's statements about laundering money through misreporting dead chickens were anything but rank speculation, surmise or hyperbole, engendered, perhaps, by her thrill at being involved in an undercover capacity."  In other words, going undercover in a henhouse is exciting stuff for a researcher used to being cooped up, as it were.

The plaintiff hopes for a less fowl reception from the appellate court.

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