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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. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

  2. What a fine example of the best of the Hoosier tradition! How sad that the AP has to include partisan snark in the obit for this great American patriot and adventurer.

  3. Why are all these lawyers yakking to the media about pending matters? Trial by media? What the devil happened to not making extrajudicial statements? The system is falling apart.

  4. It is a sad story indeed as this couple has been only in survival mode, NOT found guilty with Ponzi, shaken down for 5 years and pursued by prosecution that has been ignited by a civil suit with very deep pockets wrenched in their bitterness...It has been said that many of us are breaking an average of 300 federal laws a day without even knowing it. Structuring laws, & civilForfeiture laws are among the scariest that need to be restructured or repealed . These laws were initially created for drug Lords and laundering money and now reach over that line. Here you have a couple that took out their own money, not drug money, not laundering. Yes...Many upset that they lost money...but how much did they make before it all fell apart? No one ask that question? A civil suit against Williams was awarded because he has no more money to fight...they pushed for a break in order...they took all his belongings...even underwear, shoes and clothes? who does that? What allows that? Maybe if you had the picture of him purchasing a jacket at the Goodwill just to go to court the next day...his enemy may be satisfied? But not likely...bitterness is a master. For happy ending lovers, you will be happy to know they have a faith that has changed their world and a solid love that many of us can only dream about. They will spend their time in federal jail for taking their money from their account, but at the end of the day they have loyal friends, a true love and a hope of a new life in time...and none of that can be bought or taken That is the real story.

  5. Could be his email did something especially heinous, really over the top like questioning Ind S.Ct. officials or accusing JLAP of being the political correctness police.

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