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E. Q. Taft 22 June 2017 11:19 PM

Coal company sues HBO's John Oliver for defamation
Coal company Murray Energy has sued HBO and its Sunday-night host, John Oliver, for what it says was a “false and malicious broadcast” last Sunday evening. It's seeking financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the segment's “defamatory statements.”

Errata 23 June 2017 12:20 AM

If HBO can release a documentary critical of Scientology, I don't think their lawyers are going to be fazed by an obvious attempt at a SLAPP lawsuit by a mining company. HBO has deep pockets and would open themselves up to more of the same if they show weakness here, and the case isn't winnable for the plaintiff as long as HBO doesn't flinch and makes them actually go to court. I think someone miscalculated this.

ganzfeld 23 June 2017 01:00 AM

I would think the calculation is simple: Let the investors (and potential investors) know you're not going to let it go without a fight. That's all. Whether it works or not is a different question but it's probably nothing about it being winnable in court. (I suppose the same goes for the SLAPP case - just make people think twice before they repeat the same claims. No need to win in court.)

Mouse 23 June 2017 01:40 AM

I wonder if that's the one company talked about in the segment where John Oliver said that they basically sue anyone who says anything remotely critical about them. Please tell me it's the one where the CEO was inspired by a squirrel.

Psihala 23 June 2017 01:52 AM

Yes, its the one with the squirrel.

Copyright attorney Leonard French did his livestream covering the suit earlier today where he goes over the whole document.

I don't expect everyone to sit through all 2-and-a-half hours of it, but I'll post it here for reference.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


ganzfeld 23 June 2017 02:18 AM

Oh, cripes, this dumb butt. I spoke too soon. Yeah, everything Errata said. Delusional SLAPP. But the actual Oliver piece is worth watching if you like Oliver.

E. Q. Taft 23 June 2017 07:47 PM

Yeah, considering that the company sent Oliver a Cease & Desist letter before the segment aired, it definitely seems they have a strategy of trying to scare people into keeping quiet. It's not surprising that Oliver's crew didn't back down, and I doubt HBO is too worried.

Ali Infree 23 June 2017 08:15 PM

Murray Energy is headquartered close to me in eastern Ohio. He is a litigious guy, suing EPA over the Clean Energy Plan among other things. The Utah mine disaster may have been initially triggered by an earthquake, but 2 or 3 rescuers, including federal mine people died in a second roof collapse. Mr. Murray cried for the cameras then fought a rear-guard action--he denied that what the miners were doing--which was pillar recovery.
This is one of the more dangerous aspects of room and pillar mining. Continuous mining machines leave a checkerboard of pillars of coal behind. Miners take these pillars and leave the remaining top to fall. (Long wall and short wall machines simply cut the coal, move it out on conveyor belts and let the top fall behind them.) Companies do this at the end of a mine's productive life to get the last dollar out of their investment.
Murray has also sued gas drilling companies because of fracking operations near his mines. This guy closed a local mine in 2012, supposedly because of "Obama's war on coal." He reopened it four months later. He is a bully and so fits in well with the current Washington powers-that-be. Doesn't always judge the political climate well--he did a big ($5000 a plate) fundraiser for Ted Cruz and then turned around and did one for Trump a few months later.
I hope HBO kicks his butt, he is public figure who cannot be defamed in a meaningful way.


Lainie 23 June 2017 10:26 PM

To quote Matewan, I wouldn't piss on him if his heart was on fire.

musicgeek 24 June 2017 03:38 AM

Great movie. (And one of my favorite lines.)

Mouse 25 June 2017 12:08 AM


Originally Posted by E. Q. Taft (Post 1952345)
Yeah, considering that the company sent Oliver a Cease & Desist letter before the segment aired, it definitely seems they have a strategy of trying to scare people into keeping quiet. It's not surprising that Oliver's crew didn't back down, and I doubt HBO is too worried.

I am so hoping and praying for the Streisand Effect to work its magic. :p

damian 26 June 2017 05:43 AM

John Oliver essentially dared Murray to sue. There will be a lot of comic material in this court case. And John went to great lengths to say that The John Oliver show and it's producers did not believe the squirrel story was true.

E. Q. Taft 26 June 2017 07:11 PM

Last night, Oliver mentioned the suit but on advice of show's attorneys could not go into any detail. He promised we'd hear all about it when the time was appropriate (including, of course, any consequences for Mr. Nutterbutter).

Lainie 26 June 2017 07:35 PM


Originally Posted by musicgeek (Post 1952369)
Great movie. (And one of my favorite lines.)

Seemed a fitting source, too. :)

musicgeek 27 June 2017 01:56 AM

In that spirit, maybe Murray can go by the nickname "Few Brains."

E. Q. Taft 02 August 2017 04:32 PM

Anyone Can Legally Say "Eat NFBSK, Bob."
The ACLU of West Virginia has filed an amicus brief in the case that makes for some fun reading...


It is apt that one of Plaintiffs’ objections to the show is about a human-sized squirrell named
Mr. Nutterbutter, because this case is nuts. Which also begs the question: is Mr. Nutterbutter one
of the 50 Doe Defendants included in this action?

And with regard to the Dr. Evil remark, it should be remembered that truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation....It should be noted that the very mean comparison arose from both a striking physical resemblance between the two characters and a statement by Plaintiff’s General Counsel with an uncanny similarity to statements made by a more youthful Dr. Evil. Compare Coal Operator Sues Beacon Journal Over Portrayal of Him in Article...(Plaintiff’s General Counsel noting that although he could not legally demand one billion dollars, the figure did reflect the potential damages of the article that gave rise to that suit—this can reasonably be interpreted to mean Plaintiff’s General Counsel wanted to demand one billion dollars) with (a young . . . er Dr. Evil demanding “one million dollars,” “one hundred billion dollars,” and “one billion gajillion fafillion shabadoodalooyim[inaudible]million yen”)

GenYus234 02 August 2017 04:58 PM

I like this bit:

Apparently because Plaintiffs’ delicate sensibilities were offended, they clutched their pearls and filed this suit.

E. Q. Taft 02 August 2017 06:02 PM

There is one passage that has what I think is an interesting typo:


All prior restraints on expression are presumptively constitutional; prior restraints on matters of public concern are even more so.
That should of course be "presumptively unconstitutional."

(Also, my spell-checker seems to think that "presumptively" is not a real word.)

Ali Infree 02 August 2017 08:29 PM

If, as with the other Murray lawsuits that ACLU-WV cited, this one is dismissed, this brief may be the longest lasting relic of the whole thing. Outside of of John Oliver.:fish:
In a democracy, the right to speak is a means to paint a picture or draw a target on the object of your ire. I think this has been done admirably in this case.


Mouse 03 August 2017 03:09 AM

Skimmed through the ACLU document. Maybe Murray should save his money and spend it on the ointment he'll need for that sick burn they dished him. :lol:

It's one of life's little pleasures, seeing a well-executed takedown of an assholish idiot.

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