Libel Lawsuit Format by brc12670

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									CELEBRITY UNDERTAKER ASKS COURT TO MUZZLE FUNERAL CONSUMERS ALLIANCE
Wednesday, 24 September 2008 19:41 - Last Updated Wednesday, 11 November 2009 22:53




UPDATE August 4, 2009 -

 COURT TOSSES FUNERAL DIRECTOR LAWSUIT; UPHOLDS FREE SPEECH
FOR CONSUMER ADVOCATES


The US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan threw out prominent funeral director
Thomas Lynch’s libel and defamation suit against Funeral Consumers Alliance and two other
defendants. On July 31, Judge Robert H. Cleland granted summary judgment for the
defendants, ruling that Lynch had no case for libel or defamation.

“We’re delighted the court has upheld FCA’s right to free speech,” said Joshua Slocum,
Executive Director. “The Constitution protects Americans’ right to engage in vigorous public
debate, and that includes criticizing the words and deeds of public figures like Mr. Lynch. Simply
because the target of that criticism does not enjoy it does not make such critique illegal. FCA
will continue commenting on matters of importance to funeral consumers, and that commentary
may take the form of critiquing the writing or statements of prominent funeral directors. We
expect this ruling will discourage any disgruntled funeral industry figures from attempting in the
future to intimidate and silence consumer organizations through legal bullying.”

Click READ MORE for the rest of the story. . .




Lynch filed suit against Funeral Consumers Alliance, the FCA of Idaho, Funeral Ethics
Organization, and FEO Executive Director Lisa Carlson, in September of 2008. He accused the
defendants of defaming his reputation and libeling him because of various articles and
documents the defendants published. In FCA’s case, Lynch claimed a PowerPoint presentation
titled “ Deconstructing Thomas Lynch ”  — a piece that critiqued one of Lynch’s widely read
syndicated articles on funerals — made libelous, false statements against him.

The Court disagreed:


None of the evidence presented by Plaintiffs exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth or
knowledge that statements were false. In fact, many of the statements alleged to support a
finding of malice appear                                                 , based on the record
before the court,                                                                           to be
true                                                                                            ,
and certainly [Plaintiffs] have not produced evidence that shows them to be patently false.




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CELEBRITY UNDERTAKER ASKS COURT TO MUZZLE FUNERAL CONSUMERS ALLIANCE
Wednesday, 24 September 2008 19:41 - Last Updated Wednesday, 11 November 2009 22:53




Here's a .pdf copy of the court's ruling .




September 24, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UPDATE 1/21/2009 - Detroit's weekly paper covers the Lynch lawsuit.

South Burlington, VT. - In an attempt to stifle legitimate criticism from consumer advocates, 
Michigan funeral director and author Thomas Lynch sued the oldest and largest national
nonprofit funeral consumer advocacy organization in federal court September 12.
 Lynch's suit
, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, accuses Funeral Consumers
Alliance, Inc., of "defamation," and causing "substantial economic injury" and "harm to [the]
business reputation" of Lynch's funeral home businesses in Michigan. The document in
question is a PowerPoint presentation titled
 "Deconstructing Thomas Lynch,"
available at www.funerals.org. The presentation quotes an article by Lynch and criticizes the
article's presentation and viewpoint.

"To call this lawsuit ‘frivolous' would be too kind  -  it's outrageous," said FCA Executive Director
Joshua Slocum. "Mr. Lynch appears unaware of the constitutional and common law rights
citizens and journalists enjoy in this country. We don't expect him to enjoy FCA's critique, but his
irritation does not cancel the rights of consumer advocates to publish fair comment on and
criticism of his writings. Even worse, his attempt to extract money from a nonprofit charity  is
reprehensible."

  Lynch is widely known as the author of several books on American funerals and other topics.
He was featured in the 2007 PBS Frontline documentary, The Undertaking. As a well-known
commentator on funeral practices, Lynch has written and spoken widely about what he sees as
the value of funerals -usually the more involved and costly type that includes viewing the body
and associated ceremonies. FCA's critique of Lynch's article points out the inherent economic
interest Lynch and any funeral director has in promoting this type of funeral. The presentation
highlights this, and notes families have a wide array of meaningful choices to memorialize their
dead that may not include the practices Lynch favors.




"Mr. Lynch is entitled to his point of view, and we are entitled to disagree with it," FCA's Slocum
said. "He is a public figure who has offered insight into American funeral customs. But he is not
a disinterested party. Consumer advocates are within their rights to point out that Mr. Lynch's
favored funeral rituals happen to be among the most profitable for the conventional funeral
home industry. Families planning funerals deserve to learn about all the available options, and
about the commercial interests that may influence how a funeral home presents those."



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CELEBRITY UNDERTAKER ASKS COURT TO MUZZLE FUNERAL CONSUMERS ALLIANCE
Wednesday, 24 September 2008 19:41 - Last Updated Wednesday, 11 November 2009 22:53




"Funeral Consumers Alliance will not be intimidated or silenced by Mr. Lynch," Slocum
continued. "We were formed as a national organization in 1963 to advocate for the rights of
grieving families to choose funerals they find meaningful, dignified, and affordable - whatever
those choices may be. We will fight this lawsuit vigorously, and we will continue our work on
behalf of the American public, whether or not industry heavyweights approve of it."

Funeral Consumers Alliance, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity headquartered in Vermont.
FCA is a federation of nearly 100 nonprofit funeral consumer information societies from Maine
to Hawaii. Originally formed in 1963 as the Continental Association of Funeral and Memorial
Societies, FCA and its member organizations were instrumental in the passage of the Federal
Trade Commission's Funeral Rule in 1984 - a funeral consumer's "bill of rights" guaranteeing
grieving families the right to accurate information and freedom of choice in funeral
arrangements. Visit us at www.funerals.org.




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