Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Snooze: No News

I don't really know if precedent-setting fits, but enough people the legal blogs that reviewed the initial filing and the appeal...that whatever decision is handed down will be studied, picked apart, and judged on its merits. It has almost the same feeling as the Scopes Monkey trial as portrayed in "Inherit The Wind": The judge was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.

The solution that was given in the play/movie however, won't play in this instance. The reality equivalent was that of the appeals court when it sent the case back. They emulated the (movie) judge (a non-decision decision) in bumping it to the previous court, thereby placing the hot potato back in Judge McDowell's lap. Hence, the spotlight on McDowell.

Lawsuit still on hold
By Bill Hankins
The Paris News
Published April 9, 2009

In what could be one of the most precedent-setting lawsuits involving bloggers, First Amendment rights and Paris Regional Medical Center, movement in the case seems to be on hold.

Attorneys for Essent, the parent company of Paris Regional Medical Center in its last request to 62nd District Court Judge Scott McDowell asked McDowell to order the release of information about the blogger or bloggers, whom they say have damaged the hospital’s reputation.

Attorney James Rodgers, defending one of the unknown bloggers, said today nothing has changed in the suit since the 6th Court of Appeals ruled the hospital must first meet the threshhold of proof the statements damaged the hospital before proceeding with the case.

“They have made another run at getting information, but we do not think they have complied with the appeal court ruling, and we expect the district court will agree,” Rodgers said. “As far as I am concerned, until the judge finds Essent has complied, no movement will happen in the case, and it does not appear the hospital is taking any steps to comply.”

Rodgers said no hearings are scheduled and no decisions expected.

“No news is good news.” Rodgers said.

The 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana ruled the hospital first must prove the statements damaged the hospital before seeking the identity of the blogger or bloggers.

The lawsuit by Essent was filed June 19, 2007, when the hospital accused 1 to 10 unknown bloggers of wrongful conduct in publishing “false and misleading” information detrimental to the hospital and asking the bloggers be silenced.

After the appeals court ruling turning the burden of proof of damage back on the hospital, attorneys for the hospital issued a statement that said: “We appreciate how carefully the court is proceeding with this important issue. We understand the rules surrounding the Internet are new and evolving and that the court wants to proceed deliberately. That said, we are very confident in our ability to meet the standards articulated by the court. We intend to pursue all available legal options.”

No movement has been made in the case since.

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