Portnoy's complaint dismissed

Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, was accused by several women of violent behavior and filming them during sex without consent. Portnoy sued Business Insider, which reported their claims, for libel. His lawsuit was today dismissed by a federal judge.

However, even assuming that the articles imply that plaintiff sexually assaulted one or more of the women, the complaint nevertheless fails to plausibly plead facts alleging that defendants published the articles with a reckless disregard for the truth. The complaint does not allege that Insider's anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told defendants. Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his press conference and his lawyer's full denial letter, thus "undercut[ting] any inference of actual malice." See Lemelson, 903 F.3d at 24 (finding that the plaintiff failed to plausibly allege actual malice where the publisher had, prior to publication, "reached out repeatedly to secure an interview with [the plaintiff] and to otherwise solicit his comment, and then published his denial").

One one hand, it looks like a classic SLAPP suit designed to harass Insider with the cost of defending itself, and warn off anyone else thinking of reporting Portnoy's behavior. On the other hand, I remember this lawsuit focusing more on trying to prove the women were lying than trying to prove Insider committed libel in reporting what they claimed. Whether he knew what he was doing or not, the outcome isn't surprising now it's got to the judge.