There is no denying it; Bill Donohue, President and CEO of the Catholic League, is one of the fiercest defenders of the Catholic Church on the planet. I’m sure most of you have seen him on national TV, responding to controversial attacks made on the Church. So, when he asked the Thomas More Law Center to defend him and the Catholic League in a defamation lawsuit, without hesitation we agreed.
Beginning in 2014, the case wound its way through both the state and federal courts. Yesterday, the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Bill Donohue and the Catholic League by affirming a lower court decision dismissing the defamation lawsuit.
Responding to the decision, Erin Mersino, the Thomas More Law Center attorney handling the case, commented: “The three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit reached the just result today. The lawsuit filed by Jon David Couzens lacked legal merit and required dismissal of all claims. The Thomas More Law Center exalts the court's decision both as a victory for free speech and as a victory for our legal process that allows meritless and improper lawsuits to be dismissed at the earliest possible time."
The plaintiff still has a right to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court, but, hopefully, this decision ends the matter.
Here follows an excerpt of the summary of the court's opinion:
Jon David Couzens, Jr., filed suit against William Donohue, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (the Catholic League), KC Catholic League, Inc. (KCCL), Joe McLiney, and James E. O’Laughlin (collectively, Defendants) in Missouri state court. Couzens’s petition set forth claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, alleging that Defendants published false information to discredit and humiliate him in retaliation for Couzens’s public allegations that he was sexually abused by priests. Defendants removed the case to federal district court. Couzens appeals from the district court’s orders denying his motion to remand and dismissing his causes of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. We affirm.
You can read the entire 8th U.S. Circuit Court opinion here.
Richard Thompson Esq. is president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Legal Center, a publlic interest law firm, which is based in Michigan.