Friday, July 29, 2005

Fourth Circuit reinstates defamation suit against New York Times

In Hatfill v. The New York Times, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill sued The New York Times and columnist Nicholas Kristof for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Hatfill's claims arose from The Times' publication of a series of Kristof's columns concerning the federal investigation into the mailing of letters laced with anthrax in the fall of 2001. Five people died in the attacks, which heightened national anxieties after the Sept 11 attacks. The district court dismissed Hatfill's complaint under Rule 12(b)(6).

After an examination of the Kristof columns, the paneconcludeded that a "reasonable reader" of Mr. Kristof's columns would have concluded that Dr. Hatfill was responsible for the anthrax attacks and that the columns intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him.

A New York Times account of the ruling can be found here.

No comments: