As Gannett Co., the parent company of leading national newspaper USA Today, faces off against tax services provider Ryan LLC in a defamation and fraud lawsuit, Jackson Walker partner Paul C. Watler shared insight with the ABA Journal on the increase of libel cases and the changing legal landscape.
“Cases are being filed to teach the news media a lesson,” Paul stated. “It is the result of the political discourse of the past few years. In the past, these same lawsuits sought $1 million to $5 million; now, they want $10 million to $100 million.”
He added, “The whole tapestry that protects free speech and a free press—from the anti-SLAPP laws to Times v. Sullivan—seems to be under attack. The interlocutory appeal and stay provisions are a critically important component of anti-SLAPP. The challenges are everywhere.”
For the full story, see ABA Journal’s “The Defame Game: Libel cases are on the rise and increasingly politicized” (subscription required).
Paul C. Watler is a board-certified civil trial lawyer who is widely recognized for First Amendment, media law, “Bet-the-Company” cases, and commercial litigation. He has successfully represented numerous newspapers, television stations, media companies, websites, and journalists in libel, anti-SLAPP (Texas Citizens Participation Act), public information, invasion of privacy, copyright, news gathering, and commercial lawsuits.
Throughout his career, Paul has held leadership positions on the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Board, the Dallas Bar Association Media Relations Committee, The University of Texas at Austin – Moody College of Communication Advisory Council, and the North Texas Public Broadcasting (KERA) Board.
Paul is lead counsel to Gannett Co. in the Ryan litigation.