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Justices hear Simon defamation appeal

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The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments on whether Indianapolis billionaire Herb Simon may proceed with a defamation suit against a California attorney. The suit involves comments the lawyer made to an Indianapolis TV station regarding allegations that Simon and his wife employed illegal immigrants at their California home.

California attorney Joseph A. Davis granted an interview to WTHR-13 to discuss suits he filed on behalf of former Simon employees, and the Simons sued claiming defamation and false light publicity. A Marion County trial court denied a defense motion to dismiss, but the Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court granted transfer in Joseph A Davis v. Herbert Simon and Bui Simon, 49S04-1208-CT-498.

“This is a jurisdictional issue,” argued Davis’ attorney, Maggie L. Smith, who said that Indiana should not have jurisdiction because the case involves mostly California litigants. “Returning a phone call in and of itself is not sufficient to establish jurisdiction.”

Smith said Davis returned a telephone call from a TV news reporter and gave a taped interview. “He did nothing more than quote the allegations of the complaint” filed against Simon in California.

The Simons’ attorney, David K. Herzog, told the justices that Indiana had jurisdiction in the case because Davis directed his comments to the state with the intent to cause harm. “Mr. Davis purposely delivered defamatory comments to a person he knew to be an Indianapolis TV reporter,” Herzog said.

“It took a jury 30 minutes to determine there were no illegal aliens in the household,” he said of a suit in California against the Simons.

The justices asked about the fairness of bringing a defendant 3,000 miles to face a civil action, but Herzog told the justices any burden for Davis was of his own doing.

Simon, chairman emeritus of Simon Property Group and owner of the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, has an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion, and was listed No. 218 on the Forbes 400 in September.

Just three justices heard arguments in the case – Chief Justice Brent Dickson and Justices Robert Rucker and Steven David.

 

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  • whoa
    A meritless and vindictive attack on free speech by a billionaire. Pathetic. The courts need to stand up to this or look weak in the face of plutocracy.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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