Confidential Settlement Obtained in Defamation Action

An executive who was embroiled in tense labor management disputes was the subject of a defamatory article published in a labor union newsletter. The labor union portrayed the executive as a witch who relied on wearing short skirts to advance her career. This article harshly criticized the management skills of this manager and falsely stated that she had been removed from her position. The defamatory article was posted on the labor union website and distributed nationwide in the union newsletter.

An action was filed against certain union members and the labor union. The labor union defended the action arguing that the article was actually satire and intended to be a humorous, comedic portrayal of the manager. The labor union also argued that the manager was a public figure.

To counter these arguments, Plaintiff's counsel hired an expert on defamation law who is a journalism professor and also licensed attorney. The defamation expert offered opinions regarding why the article was defamatory and not merely satirical in nature. Plaintiff's counsel also retained an employment expert who opined that the Plaintiff's career had been harmed as a result of the publication.

Because the Plaintiff was traumatized by publication of this article, she voluntarily sought another position involving less interaction with the labor union. Transferring to an alternative position affected the Plaintiff's benefits and pension as a federal employee. Establishing the Plaintiff's loss of earning capacity required hiring a vocational economist who calculated the value of Plaintiff's damages, including her loss of employment benefits and pension contributions.

Plaintiff's counsel, Theodore Karavidas, also took depositions of numerous union officials, including regional officials and the union president, who represented over 20,000 employees. Ultimately, Plaintiff's counsel mediated the case and obtained a successful confidential settlement with the labor union.

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