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.



  • 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. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

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  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...