Reflections from a reporter born in 1987

This week in the Dan Snyder lawsuit

February 11, 2011 - 03:36 PM
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Been a quiet week on the legal front was we continue to wait for an official legal response from Atalaya Capital Management and Creative Loafing, the parent companies of the Washington City Paper, to this libel lawsuit filed December 2 by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

But this is a town that loves to talk and write, and sure enough, there has been a lot of both happening this week.

Newly minted Washington Post sports columnist and former Redskins beat writer Jason Reid devoted much of his first print column Wednesday to the lawsuit, focusing largely on the role Redskins senior vice president Tony Wyllie played in bringing the case. Reid concluded that Wyllie had "overreached, negating whatever gains he may have made as part of his plan for Snyder."

Wyllie declined to comment further on his role in the suit, telling TBD in an e-mail, "We've told our side many times and would like the lawyers to work on our behalf."

The City Paper, the organization that started it all, came out with another couple of pieces on the suit this week, with editor Michael Schaffer writing that the paper's Legal Defense Fund had raised just over $18,000 in five days. Quoth Schaffer: "The First Amendment was written to keep government from abusing our rights. But citizens also need to be able to speak freely about influential public figures in the private sector. When wealthy individuals can use the threat of lawsuit to sway coverage of their questionable actions—or to jeopardize the employment of a journalist who had the temerity to report on those actions—it’s dangerous for all of us."

Also this week, the City Paper uncovered a defamation lawsuit in which Dan Snyder was the defendant. The suit, which was tossed out of a Virginia court in 2001, was brought by the former groundskeepers at Redskins Park, who claimed that Snyder's disparaging comments about the state of the Ashburn fields in this 1999 Sports Illustrated story would hinder their efforts to find other jobs. Snyder's attorneys correctly claimed that the owner's criticism was a matter of opinion. Sound familiar?

Elsewhere on the Internet, the original City Paper story by Dave McKenna is doing quite well, thank you. Deadspin, the Web's most prominent sports blog is linking to McKenna's story each weekday until Snyder's lawsuit is dealt with, and has also provided a selection of anti-Snyder vanity plates for your viewing pleasure.

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  1. verrylake verrylake

    Verone Lake

    Feb 12, 2011 - 10:44:34 AM

    Is isn't kind of sketchy for a newspaper with a libel insurance policy and that is owned by a billion-dollar hedge fund to be asking its readers to kick in their hard-earned cash for its legal defense fund? I mean, come on, where is that money really going to go? The whole thing smacks of a scam to me. This reminds me of those supposedly homeless people begging for cash who're really using it to buy drugs.

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    • Laine Laine

      Elaine Clisham

      Feb 13, 2011 - 04:18:44 PM

      The Washington City Paper certainly doesn't need me to speak for it, but I believe it started the fund in response to requests from members of the public looking for a way to show their support. Anything they don't spend on legal fees will be donated to a local charity. See the letter from the City Paper's publisher here. Doesn't sound like they're trying to strong-arm anybody. (Disclosure: Through a former employer I had a professional relationship with the paper, concluded in December 2009. I have no current involvement with the paper or this lawsuit.)

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    • psu_eddie psu_eddie

      Edward Martin

      Feb 13, 2011 - 03:00:32 PM

      That's a little harsh, don't you think? You call this a scam based on what? That a company - going through some severe financial difficulties as of late and being sued by a billionaire for what the majority of sensible people feel is simply a bullying tactic - you think its unreasonable for them to start a fund to assist them to pay their legal fees? Even though they have insurance, just like any other insurance, they will have to pay a sizable deductible. Even though its a deductible, it's not the $500 level you would have to cover a car accident. Not to mention that I'm certain there are limits and restrictions on what that insurance actually covers, so I'd have no doubt there's plenty of additional fees this fund could support should this case actually get to trial. Also, I believe they said on their website that any money that does not go towards the defense will be donated to a local charity. I think its safe to say they're still not anywhere near these donations having covered their legal costs yet.

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