A February 28, 22020 article by legal reporter Kevin Featherly in the Minnesota Lawyer, a weekly newspaper covering law and politics in Minnesota, quotes TMB Shareholder V. John Ella on the topic of Minnesota defamation law. The article, headlined simply, “Court of Appeals: MacDonald Loses” concerned a decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals to affirm a lower court ruling in the case MacDonald v. Brodkorb, No. A19-0665 (Feb. 24, 2020).
MacDonald, a former candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, sued Brodkorb, a blogger, for defamation because he described her as a “person of interest” in an investigation; allegedly falsely reported she had a DWI and because he published a “false image” purporting to be her “mug shot.” The district court dismissed the defamation claim because it found that MacDonald, as a perennial, albeit unsuccessful, candidate for state-wide office, was a limited-purpose public figure which meant the higher actual malice standard under the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan applied. It also held that MacDonald could not maintain a claim of defamation by implication. The lower court found that MacDonald had not demonstrated actual malice and the Court of Appeals agreed, affirming dismissal.
The article stated, in part:
“V. John Ella, a shareholder at Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. who represents defendants in defamation claims, has been monitoring the case. He said the case was one of first impression as it relates to Minnesota political candidates and defamation. The result came as no surprise, Ella said, ‘I would have assumed that a candidate for statewide office would be treated to the higher standard,” he said. ‘I think its a case of first impression with an obvious outcome – made even more likely by the . . . nature of the case that came up.'”
Note: The original Minnesota Lawyer article is behind a paywall.