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Competitive Enterprise Institute v. Mann

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20196
Nos. 14-CV-101, -126, (D.C. Cir., 12/22/2016)

The D.C. Circuit affirmed in part a lower court's decision that a climate scientist may go forward with his defamation suit against two journalists for writing articles that criticized his conclusions about climate change and accused him of deception and academic and scientific misconduct. The journalists argued that the lawsuit infringes on their First Amendment right of free speech and moved for dismissal under the District of Columbia’s Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation Act (Anti-SLAPP Act), but the trial court denied their motion to dismiss. The journalists then sought interlocutory review.The appellate court held that the Anti-SLAPP Act’s “likely to succeed on the merits” standard for overcoming a properly filed motion to dismiss requires that the plaintiff present an evidentiary basis that would permit a reasonable, properly instructed jury to find in the plaintiff’s favor. Here, the scientist supplied sufficient evidence to meet that standard. Having reviewed the record, the court affirmed the lower court's decision not to dismiss the defamation claim based on the articles. But the court reversed the lower court's decision not to dismiss the scientist's defamation claims with respect to an editorial, as well as the scientist's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.