On Monday, famed climate scientist Michael Mann filed suit against National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute over some allegedly defamatory blog posts. Now some of the defendants have responded.
Here is CEI’s official response, and a legal analysis from their lawyer. Of note, while CEI refused to apologize for the initial blog post (which was edited long before Mann threatened to file suit), it has offered to publish Mann’s response on their climate blog, an offer Mann has refused. Perhaps this is because, as Mann has commented on his Facebook page, ” There is a larger context for this latest development, namely the onslaught of dishonest and libelous attacks that climate scientists have endured for years by dishonest front groups seeking to discredit the case for concern over climate change.” Of course is Mann is suing others for defamation, he may wish to be more careful about repeatedly attacking them as “front groups” for industry.
An interesting twist in this case is the fact that Mann filed his suit in D.C. Superior Court, which means it is subject to the District’s anti-SLAPP suit law which makes it particularly difficult to maintain libel and defamation suits. Alison Frankel explains:
The law, in effect, shifts the way courts decide motions to dismiss, doing away with the assumption that the plaintiffs’ allegations are true. It also restricts discovery, so plaintiffs usually have to show they’re likely to prevail without the benefit of depositions and documents from the other side. . . .
Mann’s lawyers at Cozen filed his complaint against CEI, Simberg, the National Review and Steyn in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, not in federal court. Had they brought the suit in federal court, citing Mann’s Pennsylvania citizenship and the National Review’s New York headquarters, Mann might have been able to avoid Washington’s anti-SLAPP law, . . . But it’s hard to see how, otherwise, Mann’s case won’t be subject to dismissal under the anti-SLAPP statute, since the scientific backing for climate change evidence is certainly speech of public concern.
More popcorn please.