A Lawsuit Against Harris Stowe
If you were to read a recent article on the internet by a law firm who specialises in sexual harassment and other lawsuits, you would find an interesting piece of information. The author of this article is filing a lawsuit against a prominent personality, because the plaintiff has been harassed and endured extreme emotional distress as a result of that person’s conduct. The victim filed the lawsuit after learning of the conduct from another source. The source had told the plaintiff that the harasser was a prominent attorney and a well-known celebrity. The source further stated that the celebrity in question was “floating around” and had “done a lot of questionable things.” Now, here is where the problem arises.
Harris Stowe Lawsuit
Assuming the accuracy of the article and assuming that the plaintiff provided accurate information when it was provided to the media, the question becomes whether or not the statements made in the article constitute negligence on the part of the defendant? If there are statements in an article that are found to be untrue or misleading, are they actionable? As a matter of law, if the statements in question constitute negligence on the part of the defendant (or if the plaintiff was engaged in some kind of intentional misconduct towards the plaintiff), then those statements may constitute actionable harm.
In a related case, there were two attorneys who were engaging in a sexual harassment case.
One attorney was telling a female attorney that her client had been sexually harassed by her ex-boyfriend. The second attorney was telling the same attorney that his client was dating a man with whom she had been involved in a sexual affair. The first attorney did not state that the plaintiff had actually been subjected to any wrongdoing, nor did he indicate that he had any knowledge that the plaintiff’s sexual relationship with the man was improper. Consequently, the second lawsuit was brought against him.
It should be noted that in both instances, there were statements that should have been identified as being false or otherwise misleading. In one instance, the attorney may have said that the plaintiff’s sexual relationship with the man from the firm was approved by the firm’s HR department. In another case, the attorney may have said that the case was settled due to financial reasons. However, neither of these statements was made explicitly or materially false. Therefore, those statements may have actually been accurate and legally accurate.
Now, let me turn to the specific language of the Stowe lawsuit.
At issue here is a claim for defamation of character. This claim refers to a breach of a person’s reputation in the community. Simply put, the plaintiff had alleged in his complaint that defendant had made a number of statements about him, which were untrue. That conduct may have actually caused harm or damage to plaintiff.
In the case of the second lawsuit mentioned above, plaintiff did file a complaint with the court denying liability.
However, the complaint was later enjoined by the judge from naming the defendants individually and from naming any more than three of them. plaintiff then filed another lawsuit against defendant. The complaint herein (and the second lawsuit) are part of the complaint in this case. Thus, they may well support the proposition that defendants breached their contractual duty to exercise care in dealing with plaintiff and thus may have also violated the law.
It is noteworthy that both lawsuits were ultimately “dismissed without prejudice.”
This simply means that the case was dismissed for want of subject matter. A case dismissed without prejudice essentially means that the court has no further case to determine regarding the parties. (In other words, there is no chance that the defendants will be able to win on the complaint.)
Assuming that defendants did violate the statute of limitations, there is still an argument as to whether or not the court should allow this breach of contract to result in a judgment against defendants. There are a number of issues that are unique to the facts of this case. They include (but I am not saying all of them are necessarily unique to this case): whether there was a breach of express or implied warranty; whether there was a contractual or equitable duty owed; and whether any harm resulted from the breach of this duty. There are also issues of negligence and damages. In my opinion, a review of this case is in order.