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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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