$60k damages awarded against blogger who reported truth

A blogger must pay $60,000 after reporting a link between a local community leader and mortgage fraud. From the Star Tribune:
The jury awarded [Jerry] Moore $35,000 for lost wages and $25,000 for emotional distress. The civil verdict culminated a nearly two-year legal scuffle between John Hoff, whose blog, The Adventures of Johnny Northside, has 300 to 500 readers daily, and Moore, former director of the Jordan Area Community Council.
Because the story was true, according to the Star Tribune, Moore (who was fired after the report) sued not for libel but for 'meddling' in his employment.


  1. If anything falls into “What a bunch of fucking bullshit!”/ angrily-waving-fists territory, it’s this.

      1. I would fight that all the way to the Supreme Court!

        Easier said than done, that’s a very expensive proposition… but, I hope so too. And I hope everything reverses and the blogger is awarded damages from this idiot, fraudster Jerry Moore.

  2. Sounds to me like Moore is profiting from his crime when he was awarded the $60k. Shouldn’t that also be illegal?

  3. If you can be successfully sued for making true statements, then the 1st amendment might as well not exist. I really, REALLY hope the jury was pressured to find for the plaintiff. The only alternative is that there are 12 Minnesotans who are…

    You know what? I probably shouldn’t say what they are. I don’t want to get sued for telling the truth.

    1. chip, this is a civil suit, so I believe the magic number is 7. You don’t need unanimous idiots to make this happen.

    2. chip, the first amendment doesn’t apply here, since it speaks to suppression of speech by the government, not to private actions.

    3. The way this piece is written, of course you are angry and you think badly of the jury. But having served on a couple of juries, I suspect there is more to this story. It’s possible that the defendant’s lawyer was totally incompetent or that the judge mangled the law or that the jurors were idiots or didn’t care about right and wrong. But I doubt any of that is the case. Absent more information, I will bet that the jurors tried their level best to render a true verdict in accordance with the law.

  4. Jerry Moore is a douchebag and I hope that he never gets hired by anyone for anything ever again. Let’s Streisand effect this jackass.

  5. from the article it sounds like the single act that caused this to occur was the fact that the blogger “gloated” about it later and claimed some responsibility for getting the guy fired. Telling the truth did not seem to be a part of this. Very clever on the part of the lawyers.

    I would have thought that MN anti-SLAPP law would have protected against this in the first place, except when I looked it up, the law seems to be specific with regards to SLAPP protection against THE GOVERNMENT.

    from the MN anti-SLAPP statute:
    “Lawful conduct or speech that is genuinely aimed in whole or in part at procuring favorable government action is immune from liability, unless the conduct or speech constitutes a tort or a violation of a person’s constitutional rights.”

  6. Boing boing is next for reporting truthfully on the truth that was reported.

    (I’m next after that for agreeing that a truth was both reported and reported on.)

    ((And anyone who reads this comment and agrees with it, even silently, tacitly becomes complicit in the truth that was commented on, reported and reported on.))

    (((Anyone who associates with a tacit truth-acknowledger becomes a knowing accomplice to the chain of truth-reporting-summarizing-commenting-and-agreement.)))

  7. We may complain as much as we want. Words will not make a difference, only massive action. And that, is more than doubtful in our society.

  8. Sure, its a private suit but the public parallel would be like if the owner of a major drug cartel who got busted by the FBI/ATF was able to successfully sue the US gov’t for his own loss of income and emotional duress. If the FBI agents involved “gloat” about it later does it make any difference?
    Only the most convoluted abstractions of a legal system would allow for something like this. Common sense obviously plays no role.

  9. Johnny Northside is a pc f sht wingnut who spews a constant virulent diatribe of racism and hate. His blog is about the revitalization of northern Minneapolis, which is predominantly black. “Revitalization” for Johnny = gt rd f ll th fckng n@@rs.

    He is in good company and along with the westboro baptist church he also enjoys freedom of speech.

    1. It’s not about being a good person (decidedly subjective) , it’s about the law (hopefully objective).

      Would you give up rights just so douchebags don’t get to enjoy them? It sounds as though you might.

      1. I would never give up a single human right for anything. The subjectivity of man and the objectivity of the basis of law are meant to come together to reach a rational, justified conclusion.

    2. I don’t care if this blogger guy is the worst, most insipid dumb-ass right winger in the world, he has rights, and as a progressive, I think tea bagger, right winger idiots have rights too. I don’t agree with them and will certainly fight against them, but I won’t stoop to their level, either.

      So, anyway, I hope this gets appealed and overturned.

  10. I had originally used te word fine. I fixed it quickly but it’s probably cached in google reader and twitter retweets, etc.

        1. no, really, checking your comment history, calling you a troll is probably not entirely fair.

          Instead, can you tell my what you’re calling me out on? for? Did you not understand that the miscommunication caused by the editor changing the post? Do I need to apologize to you for that?

          Or was I fair with my first attempt to understand your short, trite, nonspecific post addressed at me?

          1. I’m guessing Tamooj was calling you out for accusing PattyCake of posting a strawman, when in fact PattyCake was responding to a previous version of the text. The responsible thing to do in a situation like would have been to acknowledge that PattyCake was not posting a strawman and that you were wrong when you made that accusation.

            But instead all you posted was a response to Rob’s statement that he had changed the text, saying “good to know. Thanks. (i miss the old style strikethrough changes)”.

            Not an apology.

  11. Does anyone have a link to the case, or even the name of the case (Moore v. Hoff didn’t bring up anything on Westlaw)-I’d like to see what the court said, because as it is described by the reporter, the case should have probably been dismissed on a 12b(6) motion, so I am pretty sure there is something missing from that side of the story (or perhaps the guy had the worst lawyer ever…)

  12. I’ve known John Hoff for years. He’s a huge community activist and he is not afraid to tell the truth. I thought reader’s might also like to know that he wrote two seminal works on dumpster diving called “The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving”. He also used to run the blog towingutopia.com that focused on predatory towing issues. I hope he appeals and get out of this. He’s an asset to the community and something like this does not bode well for North Minneapolis or bloggers.

  13. I’ve been following this case for a while. I don’t have a copy of the result, but I do have a copy of Moore’s complaint. It’s not very well-written, and one claim (that comments posted on the blog are anonymous and can’t be traced) is patently untrue: blogger logs IPs.
    Moore was a public figure, and the court held that all things posted about Moore by Hoff are true, so the only issue is tortuous interference. (NY Times v Sullivan [holding that the standard for public figures is ‘actual malice’] and Moreno v Crookston Times [reaffirming that the standard for defamation in Minnesota for public figures is ‘actual malice’, where the individual published statements they knew were untrue, as opposed to ‘common-law malice’, which is that statements were published to make an individual feel bad] are the guiding cases here.) Here’s where things get fun.

    Anon #10 at 8:39, the issue of tortuous interference §772 (second restatement of torts), doesn’t apply in cases where the material posted is true. In fact, the tort goes out of its way to make that point explicitly clear.

    Furthermore, the use of infliction of emotional distress was a BS claim, because the jury held it to a far weaker standard than the law. The legal standard is three-pronged and the emotional damage inflicted has to be immensely crippling, to the point where an individual’s ability to function is impaired. Furthermore Moore has to allege that the actions taken by Hoff shock the conscience with how extreme and outrageous Hoff’s conduct was. Posting true facts on an issue of societal importance and about a public figure on a blog does not meet this prong. (Freihofer, Howell and Messenger may provide guidance)

    IANAL, but I think I do a better job than those jury members did at interpreting the law.

    1. OMG Tort Reform! The Republicans were right! (Well I guess they can’t be wrong all the time :P ).

  14. The statement that John Hoff was found to have told the truth in all of his statements by the Jury is not true.

    The Jury was not able to answer that question because another question disqualified them from answering.

    The Jury did award damages which would have been in line with the determination that the defendant made statements of fact which were not true. These untrue statements were found to have contributed to interference with a contract.

    Free Speech is still alive and well but it does not protect one from malicious and intentionally acts. Bottom line is that you have to make it clear that you are stating an opinion if you are not going to tell the truth. Even then, a victim deserved some protection.

    1. Really? Have a source for your claim “The statement that John Hoff was found to have told the truth in all of his statements by the Jury is not true”, Anon? Because both Minnesota Public Radio (http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/news_cut/archive/2011/03/sometimes_the_truth_doesnt_set.shtml) and the Daily Planet (http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2011/03/11/jury-says-hoff-didnt-lie-has-pay-anyway) say otherwise. Granted, you may be right that the specific question was preempted by another question, but please, tell us what that question is.

      If two legitimate news organizations are claiming that all that Hoff stated about Moore was true, then the tort in question doesn’t apply.

      You are right, a victim does deserve protection, but Moore, (whom it is alleged was involved in a mortgage scam and stood to gain thousands of dollars from a single property alone) is no victim.

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