Law Professor Sued for Defamation over Law Review Article

New Jersey banker and local politician Robert Catalanello recently filed a lawsuit against Zachary Kramer, an associate dean at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law. Mr. Kramer wrote a law review article which discussed an earlier lawsuit brought by a fired employee who alleged that Catalanello committed acts of discrimination on the basis of vegetarianism and perceived homosexuality.

Catalanello claims that the Kramer article, which analyzes the lawsuit brought against him by the former employee, contains false and defamatory statements which have exposed him to “contempt, hatred and ridicule” and have injured his reputation. Catalanello also claims that Mr. Kramer injured him further by making defamatory statements to students and the public at a lecture. Catalanello is a manager in the foreign exchange division of French investment bank Crédit Agricole and serves on the council of the Borough of Madison, N.J.

Admittedly not having read either the original complaint of the fired employee, or the law review article in question, it nonetheless appears to me that it is going to be extremely difficult for Catalanello to prevail on these claims. Reporting in the media the substance of a lawsuit, even if the lawsuit is itself baseless and false, does not, in my view, constitute defamation under normal circumstances.