The Muslims of America lose

Yesterday’s The Muslims of America, Inc. v. Mawyer (N.D.N.Y. Apr. 23, 2014), involved The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA) — a corporation formed on Jan. 24, 2013 — suing over statements made by defendants in 2012 about Muslims of Americas, Inc. (MOA). Those statements generally alleged that MOA was involved in training American Muslims for terrorist activity; they allegedly appeared in Martin J. Mawyer & Patti Pierucci, “Twilight in America: the Untold Story of Islamist Terrorist Training Camps in America,” were made in various media outlets, and were posted on www.Christianaction.org.

But plaintiff’s counsel went to court on Feb. 6, 2013 to dissolve Muslims of Americas, arguing

that “[t]he entire incorporation filing stemming from the [1985] amendment [to the articles of incorporation] was fraudulent as it identifies a fictitious board of trustees, signatures and dishonest notary attestation,” and … that “cunning members” who were Wahhabists “falsely presented themselves” and “created a Trojan horse by linking MOA’s legal status with the negative history of IM,” IM being Ikhwanul Muslimin [apparently meaning the Muslim Brotherhood -EV].

MOA was indeed dissolved in response to this petition, and, the court concluded, TMOA was not its legal successor. TMOA therefore had no standing to sue over the alleged damage to MOA’s reputation:

Defendants argue that Plaintiff lacks standing because it was not injured by the allegedly defamatory statements made before Plaintiff existed, and because there is no evidence or legal support for the proposition that Plaintiff is legally entitled to prosecute tort claims on behalf of MOA. Plaintiff argues, in essence, that TMOA is one and the same as MOA so TMOA is entitled to prosecute this action. But Plaintiff offers no factual or legal support for this proposition, or for the more pertinent proposition that TMOA subsumed the assets and liabilities of MOA — the party against which the allegedly defamatory statements were made. As the record stands, TMOA and MOA are two distinct religious corporations with the former incorporated after the allegedly defamatory statements, and with no legal relationship between the two. Further, the reason given for the dissolution of MOA — namely, the fraudulent pretenses under which it operated, seems to be antithetical to the contention that TMOA was formed merely to implement a name change.

(If the statements about MOA would have also been understood by reasonable listeners as accusing particular members of MOA, those individual members would be able to sue for defamation of themselves. But they didn’t sue, perhaps because they weren’t widely known as MOA members, so the statements would not have been seen as “of and concerning” them.)

The People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front could not be reached for comment.

Thanks to MLRC MediaLawDaily for the pointer.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read National
Next Story
Paul Cassell · April 24