Infamous Blogger Files Internet Defamation Lawsuit Against Gawker. Who Will Probably Win?

Internet defamation case study: blogger v. gawker Gawker Media (“Gawker”) is the target of yet another high-octane Internet defamation lawsuit. This time, the infamously litigious and polemical blogger Chuck Johnson is going after the Internet media company for online libel.

Why? The Huffingtonpost.com explains (selected excerpts from the article):

“In the complaint, Johnson seeks at least $66 million for what he claims is damage caused by two Gawker articles and their attendant comments. The articles address rumors that Johnson defecated on the floor at some point during his time at Claremont McKenna College in California.

“The lawsuit, embedded below, says that the first offending post was J.K. Trotter’s Dec. 9 article “What Is Chuck Johnson, and Why? The Web’s Worst Journalist, Explained.”

“In the comments section of that post, an anonymous writer who claimed to have attended Claremont McKenna with Johnson said he was notorious among their classmates for “pooping on the (I think I’m remembering the floor right) 7th floor of Stark (a dorm).”

“The second article — Greg Howard’s “Wait, Did Clowntroll Blogger Chuck Johnson Shit On The Floor One Time?,” which appeared Dec. 9 on the Gawker site Deadspin — doesn’t say the anonymous comments are true. But in the comments section of his own article, Howard does say there is some “good-ass Kinja” — a reference to Gawker’s proprietary commenting tool — on the subject of whether Johnson has maybe pooped where he shouldn’t have. (Howard’s post also includes a rebuttal from Johnson himself.)”

Some People Think Chuck Will Lose This Internet Defamation Lawsuit

A quick Google search reveals that Chuck Johnson is somewhat of an Internet firebrand; like many of today’s shock pundits, people either love Chuck or hate him. And since the news of his Gawker defamation lawsuit hit, detractors have been setting their keyboards ablaze, sneeringly prognosticating the dismissal of Johnson’s case.

Why Missouri?

Johnson filed his Gawker defamation lawsuit in Missouri. His legal team’s reasoning, according to the claim:

Because Plaintiffs have been injured in the State of Missouri, the matter is properly before a circuit court of Missouri. Venue is determined solely by statute. State ex rel. Selimanovic v. Dierker, 246 S.W.3d 931, 932 (Mo. banc 2008). Because the matter alleges torts, including defamation and invasion of privacy, venue is proper in this Court.

In other words: I’m filing this lawsuit in Missouri because people in Missouri may have seen the Gawker post and thought less of me after reading it.

In other words: I’m filing this lawsuit in Missouri because people in Missouri may have seen the Gawker post and thought less of me after reading it.

Internet Pundit Peanut Gallery: “What Is Chuck Doing!? He Can’t File In Missouri!? Can He?”

California-based Johnson’s decision to file a Missouri defamation lawsuit against New York-based Gawker has the digital peanut gallery shout-typing some variation of: “What is he doing!?” Some outlets, like TechDirt, have smartly speculated that Johnson picked Missouri because its weak anti-SLAPP law.

Other people are questioning Johnson’s wisdom to cry defamation over the statement “Web’s worst journalist” because, as folks have pointed out, such statements are pure opinion, and hence perfectly legal.

Twitter famously kicked Chuck Johnson off its service, time will determine if the U.S. justice system will throw out this case before it sees a trial.

To learn more about the particulars of United States slander and libel law, check out our defamation law database. If you’re ready to speak with an Internet defamation lawyer, contact Kelly Warner Law.