Jul 13, 2023 - News

Nashville council member victorious in defamation suit

Illustration of Nashville City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

A defamation lawsuit by a former Republican state House candidate against Metro Councilmember Dave Rosenberg was dismissed Wednesday.

  • The suit was from Michelle Foreman, who lost last year against state Rep. Caleb Hemmer. Rosenberg backed Hemmer in the race and criticized Foreman in a newsletter to supporters.

Why it matters: Daniel Horwitz, Rosenberg's attorney, heralded the ruling as another victory under a relatively new state law aimed at curbing lawsuits intended to chill political speech.

The latest: Circuit Court Judge Lynne Ingram dismissed Foreman's lawsuit and ordered her to pay Rosenberg's legal fees.

Flashback: The lawsuit arose after Rosenberg criticized Foreman for her stances on COVID, vaccines and election conspiracy theories.

  • Foreman said Rosenberg's comments defamed her and asked for at least $300,000 in damages.

State of play: Horwitz's law firm has won a series of lawsuits since the Tennessee Public Participation Act was passed into law in 2019. The law sped up the review of evidence in defamation lawsuits.

What he's saying: "Failed, thin-skinned politicians who believe that the solution to their unpopularity is to file bogus defamation claims against their critics should take heed," Horwitz said in a press release.


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