You’ve been in business long enough to know how harmful a negative review of you or your business is online. You go to great lengths to protect your reputation, so when a defamatory post pops up, you’re understandably upset.
That was the case for Melania Trump who filed a defamation lawsuit against a Maryland blogger who knowingly published false statements about her past.
On August 2, 2016, Maryland blogger Webster Tarpley wrote an article about the now First Lady Melania Trump. A similar article, also written by Tarpley, was published on the Daily Mail’s website.
Tarpley is a 71-year old blogger who works out of a townhouse in Gaithersburg, Maryland, but that does not mean he’s immune to a lawsuit from the first family. What he wrote in the article was cause for alarm for the first lady. He made false, unsubstantiated claims that she had a past work history as an escort.
The article has since been retracted, but Tarpley is now paying the price for his carelessness.
The first lady filed the lawsuit in Maryland against Tarpley and the Daily Mail online in a single proceeding. Although the Daily Mail is based in London, the article was published on the Daily Mail’s website, which is frequently read by people in Maryland, so, in an effort to reduce court time and complications, Trump’s attorneys kept the proceedings local to where Tarpley operates. While the case against the Daily Mail was thrown out due to the court’s lack of jurisdiction, the case against Webster Tarpley was allowed. The Trump family refiled their case against the Daily Mail in the proper jurisdiction soon after.
Trump’s attorneys claimed that the article damaged her reputation and commercial prospects. The Trump family feared that the false claims could cost her millions of dollars in potential business.
Tarpley’s attorneys rebutted this claim saying the blogger did not defame Trump, but merely passed along unsubstantiated rumors and opinions. They went on to say that Trump’s lawsuit was filed in an effort to “curb his efforts to write about her,” according to the Washington Post.
Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell issued the rulings on the case. The claim against the online Daily Mail was tossed out. Judge Burrell cited that the claim was made in the wrong venue since the publication operates out of New York and London.
The ruling against Tarpley remained, and on February 7, 2017 settled the defamation lawsuit against Tarpley for a “substantial sum.” Tarpley also submitted a public apology.
“I posted an article on August 2, 2016 about Melania Trump that was replete with false and defamatory statements about her,” Tarpley said in a statement from Trump’s attorneys.
“I had no legitimate factual basis to make these false statements and I fully retract them.”
The Harm of Defamation
Defamatory remarks go beyond being a nuisance. They’re deeply harmful and can cost business owners and public figures millions of dollars.
If your business has had defamatory remarks published online, it’s time to fight back against the people who harmed you. Even if they were published anonymously, you might still be able to uncover the author’s identity and file a lawsuit against the person. We can help. Contact Hutcherson Law to discuss the details of your case and learn more about your options.