Sunday, October 6, 2013
ABA Journal, Cooley Law Defamation Suit Against Law Firm and Bloggers Critical of its Job Stats Is Nixed by Judge:
A federal judge has nixed a defamation suit filed by Thomas M. Cooley
Law School against a law firm and bloggers who criticized the
institution's portrayal of its graduates' employment statistics.
Finding that the law school is, at minimum, a limited-purpose public figure, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker on Monday ruled that, as a matter of law, Cooley could not show clear and
convincing proof of actual malice and granted a summary judgment motion
by the plaintiffs, dismissing the case. The law school vows to appeal. ...
[T]he judge offered a zinger
amidst a discussion of non-defamatory hyperbole. "Further, the statement that 'Cooley grossly inflates its graduates’
reported mean salaries' may not merely be protected hyperbole, but
true," Jonker wrote, citing two opinions in which courts had reached
"MacDonald v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 880 F. Supp. 2d
785, 794 (W.D. Mich. 2012) (finding that the average starting salary for
all graduates specified in Cooley’s 2010 Employment Report 'does not
represent the average starting salary for ‘all’ graduates; nor does it
even represent the graduates’ average starting salary for whom Cooley
knew the employment status. Standing alone, the representation is
objectively untrue.'); MacDonald v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 724 F.3d 654 (6th Cir. 2013) ('We agree with the district court that this statistic is "objectively untrue.”')."