The criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is spawning a host of civil suits as those involved work to repair their damaged reputations. The first was a libel suit filed in Bronx County civil court, where Strauss-Kahn's unnamed accuser claimed the New York Post libeled her with a front page calling her a "HOOKER" reporting that she worked as a prostitute on the side of her normal housekeeping duties in Manhattan's Sofitel hotel. We mentioned yesterday that libel suits can be very hard to prove, especially in New York. Since then, some good analysis has come out explaining just why this one will be complicated, and how the Post will be able to defend itself.
New York State tends to be friendly to first amendment defenses, both freedom of the press and free speech, according to Sandra Baron, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center, who spoke to Daily Intel's Noreen Malone. "Over the past 30 years, the number of such libel cases that have actually gone to trial has decreased, even as the proportion won by the media defendants has increased." In addition, there's the "anti-slap" statute. "If the Post believes that the lawsuit doesn't have any real grounds and the paper was sued just for the purposes of shutting it up, it could ask a judge to dismiss the suit outright." Of course, as Malone points out, it would be hard to argue the woman's reputation hadn't been damaged, as she claims, by having her labeled a "HOOKER" on the front page of one of the biggest newspapers in the U.S.