The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a partial settlement in John Lott's defamation settlement against Steven Levitt.
In documents filed today in federal court, the two parties outlined a settlement that requires Mr. Levitt, who is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the best-selling book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything, to send a letter of clarification to John B. McCall, a retired economist in Texas.
Mr. Lott's lawsuit alleges that Mr. Levitt defamed him in a 2005 e-mail message to Mr. McCall . . .
The letter of clarification, which was included in today's filing, offers a doozy of a concession. In his 2005 message, Mr. Levitt told Mr. McCall that "it was not a peer-refereed edition of the Journal." But in his letter of clarification, Mr. Levitt writes: "I acknowledge that the articles that were published in the conference issue were reviewed by referees engaged by the editors of the JLE. In fact, I was one of the peer referees."
Mr. Levitt's letter also concedes that he had been invited to present a paper at the 1999 conference. (He did not do so.) That admission undermines his e-mail message's statement that Mr. Lott had "put in only work that supported him."
The provisional settlement is simple: Beyond the letter of clarification, the agreement does not require any formal apology from Mr. Levitt, and no money will change hands.
But the settlement also explicitly allows Mr. Lott to appeal the court's January dismissal of a major portion of his lawsuit.
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