Judge dismisses suit by filmmaker
Variety has won a victory in court — a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has dismissed a suit by a filmmaker over a negative review of his film “Iron Cross.”
The judge granted Variety ‘s strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) motion, meaning filmmaker Joshua Newton is responsible for paying Variety’s legal fees.
“We are extremely pleased with the judge’s ruling,” said Variety president Neil Stiles. “It is a shame that a filmmaker saw fit to use the law in this way, but good sense and justice prevailed. We hope that this decision sends a clear message against meritless lawsuits being filed against Variety , Reed Elsevier or any other news organization.”
The court on Wednesday agreed with Variety that the entire lawsuit was impermissible based on Variety ‘s exercise of its First Amendment rights (i.e., the publication of the film review) and that the plaintiff’s complaint was fatally defective. Newton wrote, directed, produced and edited “Iron Cross,” and began taking ads in Variety in March 2009.
In his suit, Newton claimed the negative review was a breach of that relationship. After the review appeared in December, Newton gave several interviews with bloggers making claims against Variety and its employees that were similar to the claims dismissed by the court.
The news org’s litigation was spearheaded by David Jacobs from the L.A. office of Epstein Becker Green, working in conjunction with Andrew Rak, senior VP and general counsel of Reed Business Information U.S. (a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.).