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Appeals court affirms rejection of YouTube defamation claims

October 3, 2014

The sister-in-law of a Boston woman who disappeared in 1981 and whose body was found buried in Massachusetts nine years later lost a defamation appeal Friday stemming from comments to a YouTube video she posted about the case.

Eve Carson hosted a YouTube channel called “eveknowsthetruth” that featured videos about the highly publicized slaying of Harvard graduate Joan Webster. Stacy Palombo commented on a video Carson posted, telling her to stop attacking an officer who was involved in the investigation and related to Palombo.

Stacy Palombo accused Carson of being “an angry ex wife whose kids have been taken from her for god known reasons.” Based on such comments, Carson later sued Palombo for defamation per se, defamation per quod and invasion of privacy by false light.

Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer granted partial summary judgment in favor of Palombo based on a prior COA order in the case.

Friday, the appeals panel in Eve Carson v. Stacy Palombo, 49A02-1312-PL-1052, affirmed summary judgment on Carson’s bid to amend her complaint and seek almost $60,000 in expenses she said were related to the alleged defamation, not including all legal fees.

“Pursuant to the law-of-the-case doctrine, Eve cannot amend her complaint to add facts that she knew — but omitted — at the time she originally filed her complaint in order to defeat the grant of partial summary judgment on this issue in favor of Stacy,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the panel.

“In addition, because there is no genuine issue of material fact that Eve’s claimed damages were not incurred as a natural and proximate consequence of Stacy’s alleged defamatory statements, we affirm the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of Stacy on Eve’s claim for defamation per quod.

“Finally, in light of the other videos that Eve herself posted on YouTube that cast her in essentially the same light as Stacy’s comment, we conclude that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Stacy on Eve’s claim for invasion of privacy by false light. We therefore affirm the trial court,” the panel held.

The panel noted that in one video, Carson told a daughter, “People don’t understand what it’s like for a mother to have her children ripped out of her life.” The court noted that in another YouTube video to her daughters, Carson said, “I know you’ve received a lot of support from people who think that I am some sort of horrible monster, that I am threatening, that I am abusive, that I am mentally ill … .”

“In light of the videos that Eve herself posted on YouTube that cast her in essentially the same light as Stacy’s comment, the trial court properly granted summary judgment on this issue in favor of Stacy,” Vaidik wrote.
 

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