As many readers already know, Shirley Sherrod has filed a lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart over his statements, and the doctored and manipulated video he published, that resulted in her to losing her job at the US Department of Agriculture. Although Ms. Sherrod was not technically fired by the Obama Administration, she was ordered to resign immediately. Ms. Sherrod promised in late July of 2010 that she would sue Breitbart, and now she has done so, with the added ironic addition of effecting service of the summons and complaint on him at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
What no one has seen yet is the actual complaint filed in the matter. Here it is in all its 42 page glory.
The first thing you will note is that the complaint is filed against not just Andrew Breitbart, but Breitbart associate, writer and putative producer of BreitbartTV, Larry O’Connor, as well as the “John Doe” from Georgia Breitbart claims originally forwarded the video.
The second thing you will note is the complaint is framed in terms of “defamation, false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress” and was filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court. The choice of DC Superior Court is fascinating; at first glance, it appears the complaint could have been filed either in Georgia District or DC District federal courts, perhaps even a Georgia state court (although that seems more problematic). Why exactly did the plaintiff choose DC Superior Court? I have already made inquiry of Ms. Sherrod’s attorney on this question but, until a formal answer is received, I think it a safe assumption they considered it the most favorable venue for convenience, procedure and potential jury composition. And I think that is pretty smart lawyering by the way.
The complaint is long, and very well composed, but the gist of the case is contained here:
3. Although the defamatory blog post authored by Defendant Breitbart purported to show “video proof” that Mrs. Sherrod exhibited “racism” in the performance of her USDA job responsibilities, the short two-minute thirty-six (2:36) second video clip that Defendants embedded in the blog post as alleged “proof” of this defamatory accusation was, in truth, an edited excerpt from a much longer speech by Mrs. Sherrod that demonstrated exactly the opposite. In sharp contrast to the deliberately false depiction that Defendants presented in the defamatory blog post, the unabridged speech describes how, in 1986, working for a non-profit group that helped poor farmers, Mrs. Sherrod provided concern and service to a white farmer who, without her help, would almost certainly have lost his farm in rural Georgia.
4. Specifically, Defendants defamed Mrs. Sherrod by editing and publishing an intentionally false and misleading clip of Mrs. Sherrod’s speech and added the Read more