Anyone can file a lawsuit against anyone else at anytime. I recall I went to the federal courthouse in San Antonio, wrote a check for a $300 to $400 filing fee, filled in a form by hand, and I had a lawsuit going. That was without a lawyer at the time.
Most lawyers recommend that you leave the amount of damages open rather than specifying an amount. I was told that judges don’t like to be told how much you want early in a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit is easy. Winning is more difficult.
O’Reilly’s Facebook critic, Michael Panter, will need to come up with at least $200,000 to defend himself. There will probably be 60 to 100 pretrial motions that his lawyer will need to respond to. At $300 an hour the lawyer’s fees will add up.
If his critic told the truth about O’Reilly or if what he wrote is OPINION, then he should win. As a public figure O’Reilly can be criticized. In order for him to win his case, he will have to prove that Panter acted with malice.
You may recall that Sarah Palin sued the New York Times earlier this year for defamation. Her case was quickly dismissed.
With more revelations about multimillion-dollar sexual harassment settlements becoming public, ex-Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly threw some muscle around in the courts today to the tune of $5 million.
“The relief includes, but is not limited to, reputational damages, monetary damages, special damages, punitive damages, costs, fees, injunctive relief, and such other relief as is just and proper, in an amount not less than $5 million,” said the two-page summons of notice filing (read it here) in New York Supreme Court against Michael Panter over a social media posting that didn’t exactly paint O’Reilly in the best of lights.
As a potential deal with Sinclair Broadcasting and return to the small screen looms for the former Factor frontman, the self-described “not a litigious guy” this morning followed up on his promise of yesterday to go after anyone who uttered what he considered untruths about him. A category into which former New Jersey state assemblymen Panter now falls, in O’Reilly’s view.
“This action seeks redress for Defendant Panter’s intentional, malicious, and bad faith actions in making defamatory and false statements in a publicly-available social media post,” says O’Reilly attorney Fredric Newman on Friday, designating Nassau County as the specific jurisdiction for the matter.
As damage spread from the news earlier this week of a $32 million sexual harassment settlement by O’Reilly just before Fox reupped his contract to $25 million annually, Panter went on Facebook claiming that an FNC-employed ex-girlfriend of his had once settled a harassment case with O’Reilly. He then asserted the NDA-bound ex was later contacted directly by O’Reilly looking for “anything you have” on another woman accusing the then-FNC host of sexual harassment.
“Plaintiff seeks damages for the public hatred, ridicule, disgrace, and permanent harm to his professional and personal reputations as a result of Defendant Panter’s publication of knowingly false defamatory statements about Plaintiff, which were made with actual malice, as well as Defendant Panter’s intentional infliction of emotional distress upon Plaintiff,” the summons adds without taking a breath.
While not actually a lawsuit — nothing like that has been filed, it seems — O’Reilly is clearly taking a page from ex-colleague Eric Bolling’s legal book and going after those he thinks are going after him.
Like the $50 million action this summer by the then-suspended and later pink-slipped Bolling against Huffington Post freelancer Yashar Ali over suggestive texts from the former Five co-host to female co-workers, this is not an actual lawsuit. O’Reilly, who was canned from FNC in April as more than $13 million in sexual harassment settlements by him and the company were revealed, may be trying to intimidate more than litigate.
Variety adds this information about Panter’s scribblings:
Panter is a one-time New Jersey politician who took to Facebook on Tuesday to write about how the one-time Fox News Channel star treated a former girlfriend of his after she had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment. The summons says O’Reilly believes he has been defamed.
In the Facebook post, Panter offered details of how O’Reilly purportedly called his ex-girlfriend and solicited information from her about another woman who had also made harassment allegations against the former Fox News star.