An Ohio City and Its Police Chief using defamation claims to identify chief’s critics

Late last week we filed an amicus brief in an Ohio court case in which the City of Beachwood is financing litigation, purportedly seeking to recover damages for the police chief based on an anonymous email and a handful of anonymous posts to the police department’s Facebook page that denigrated the police chief’s leadership. We argue for the application of the Dendrite standards, which appears to be especially important in light of a number of statements by the sponsors of the financing arrangement, appearing in a video of the council meeting where the city decided to spend $25,000 to “investigate” the postings, indicating that the city does not have in mind to pursue the litigation to a conclusion: that the case will end once the critics are identified, in that if the critics are police officers the case will be dropped but the officers will be fired, and if the critics are members of the public the case will still be dropped.

It was just this pattern of suing for the discovery followed by extra-judicial retaliation that encouraged other courts to adopt the Dendrite standard.

Many thanks to Cleveland lawyer Tom Haren for serving as local counsel.

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