Daniel Snyder’s defamation lawsuit against the Washington City Paper’s owners should not be dismissed because the new District law the newspaper argues protects it is unconstitutional, Snyder’s attorneys said in a court filing Monday.
In a filing to D.C. Superior Court Judge Todd E. Edelman, Snyder’s attorneys argued that the $1 million lawsuit was valid because the City Paper libeled the Washington Redskins owner in a Nov. 19 article by writer Dave McKenna, also named in the suit, when McKenna falsely reported Snyder “got caught forging names as a telemarketer with Snyder Communications.”
Snyder contends that the City Paper has admitted it has “no reason to believe”that statement but has refused to retract it; City Paper attorneys argued the statement did not refer to Snyder personally, but his company.
Attorneys for the weekly paper and its owner, Florida-based Creative Loafing, had previously argued Snyder’s lawsuit should be dismissed in part under the new Anti-SLAPP — for “strategic lawsuits against public participation” — Act.
The act, which the D.C. Council passed in the spring is intended to prohibit lawsuits designed to intimidate or silence critics by burdening them with litigation.
But in Monday’s filing, Snyder’s attorneys said the City Paper’s request for dismissal was “frivolous” and “legally wrong” for invoking the Anti-SLAPP Act, and “factually wrong” by “defending the blatantly false statements made” against Snyder.
Snyder’s attorneys argued that Congress, not the D.C. Council, has the authority to pass laws that affect the procedures of the D.C. Superior Court. They also argued that the law does not apply to the suit becahse the statements in the City Paper were “plainly false” and were not regarding a “matter of public concern.”
City Paper attorneys have until Aug. 24 to file a response. A hearing is scheduled for September, after which Edelman will issue his ruling on whether the case can continue.