Idyllwild Newspaper Defeats Defamation Claim

By Anne Lowe

FREE PRESS – A former Chamber of Commerce president has filed a motion to dismiss his defamation lawsuit against the Idyllwild Town Crier, the Press-Enterprise in Riverside reports.

In two May 6 articles, the newspaper said former Idyllwild chamber President Ken Carlson had unilaterally inserted his name on the organization's ballot, even though he was not nominated under its bylaws.

Carlson asked for a retraction, was denied, and sued for defamation in federal court.

Attorney Jim Manning, of Riverside-based Reid & Hellyer, filed an anti-SLAPP motion — which stands for strategic lawsuit against public participation — that led to Carlson's filing to dismiss his own suit. The newspaper reported that Carlson agreed to pay $5,000 in attorney fees.

Under the anti-SLAPP motion procedure, the Town Crier first had to show it was being sued for an activity protected by the Constitution. When that succeeded, the burden shifted to Carlson to show he had a reasonable chance of prevailing. He settled instead.

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