Sarah Palin’s attorneys are trying to salvage her defamation claim against the New York Times – which was dismissed with prejudice by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York only one month ago – by filing a new motion for reconsideraton criticizing the judge’s early-stage evidentiary hearing and subsequent decision to dismiss her complaint with prejudice before permitting an amended complaint.
We previously covered Palin’s defamation suit against The New York Times and Judge Rakoff’s decision to dismiss her complaint with prejudice at the pleading stage, see http://www.dryewit.com/2017/08/palin-v-the-new-york-times-co-newspaper-wins-palin-loses. Palin originally sued the newspaper over an editorial published in June 2017, in which the Times cited a map from her political action committee illustrating certain congressional districts marked with crosshairs. Palin asserted that the map wrongfully linked the 2011 shooting in Arizona that injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords to Palin’s political action committee. The newspaper published a correction one day later that denied any connection between Palin’s political action committee and the Arizona shooting.
As a public figure claiming defamation, Palin is required to plead that the author acted with actual malice. Following an evidentiary hearing, Judge Rakoff determined that Palin did not sufficiently allege enough clear and convincing evidence to show that the New York Times’ author published the editorial with the knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard as to their falsity. The court found that the primary author of the purportedly defamatory statement did not act with actual malice in this instance.
Palin’s legal team is now challenging Judge Rakoff’s decision to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, in contending that the court “incorrectly presumed based on limited legal briefing that she could never adequately allege actual malice.” In her motion for reconsideration filed on September 25, Palin argues that her proposed amendment complaint would cure the purported deficiencies upon which the court based its dismissal with prejudice based on new facts which have come to light, and that the court is bound to accept as true her allegations about the author’s motivations.
We will continue to provide updates on this case following the court’s decision on whether to vacate its prior judgment.