Read the Documents Here! LA Times Responds to Cartoonist Ted Rall’s anti-SLAPP Appeal

I sued the LA Times for wrongful termination and defamation in 2016. The Times responded with an anti-SLAPP motion asking the court to order me to pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars in their legal fees. They prevailed at the trial court level.

In 2017 I filed my anti-SLAPP appeal to the California Court of Appeals. Now the Times has responded to my appeal with their own brief.

Here are the relevant documents:

My Opening Brief for my anti-SLAPP appeal:

Ted Rall vs. Los Angeles Times: anti-SLAPP Appellate Brief by Ted Rall on Scribd

The Times’ Respondents Brief:

LA Times’ Respondents Brief for anti-SLAPP Motion in Ted Rall v. Ted Rall et al. by Ted Rall on Scribd

Now we are working on our response to their response. We will post our response brief here after it is finished and filed. After we file that, the court will advise of a date when they will hear my anti-SLAPP appeal.

Obviously my attorneys and I have thoughts about the Times’ arguments as stated in their brief, but Times attorney Kelli Sager reads my blog (hi!) so it would be unwise for me to say anything here about what we think.

However, thousands of heads are better than three! We might be missing something important in this struggle for free speech and against police control of the press. So if you have any thoughts about any of this, please comment here or feel free to contact me directly at rall.com/contact. Thank you for your support!

15 thoughts on “Read the Documents Here! LA Times Responds to Cartoonist Ted Rall’s anti-SLAPP Appeal

  1. The heart of Ted’s case is defamation. I would stick with arguing about that.

    There are many types of employees, such as salespeople who spend much of their time on the road, but I would not build an argument for appeal on the weakest part.

  2. Some thoughts on the respondents’ brief.

    I wouldn’t waste energy trying to claim that I was an employee. Companies turn people into free lancers because they don’t want to pay salaries and benefits, but the bottom line is that Ted was not there from 8 to 6 wearing a suit and doing the other tedious contractual duties employees are required to do. He did his work, submitted it, and got paid. I’d let that claim rest.

    I’d concentrate on Sager’s argument, ‘Rall did not Show that any Statements are Materially False or Defamatory’ and ‘Subjective Expression is Not Actionable.’ (Pp74-89.) Sager argues that the Times ‘cannot be held responsible for the discrepancies between Rall’s account and the LAPD’s.’

    True, but the Times can be responsible for leading the reader to one conclusion, that Ted lied. Discrepancies are just that, discrepancies. A benefit does not have to be given until further investigation and many times discrepancies come down to he said/she said. But when a writer leads a reader to one conclusion and one conclusion only it is the same as explicitly calling the subject a liar.

    ‘Rall’s contemporaneous record did not mention use of force’ The nature of memory is tricky. People remember different things at different times in different ways. Some things get blotted out and some things are in sharp focus. That is that nature of memory and of storytelling.

    Asking someone for restaurant advice deescalates a situation.

    The brief goes on, but the point is that discrepancies are not proof and subjective conclusions drawn from them cannot be protected when they cannot be proved.

    • I know a woman who is an employee of a pharmaceutical company, and she spends close to zero time in the office, and she is also usually hard to reach at her home due to the nature of her work.

      Being out of the office doesn’t make her work freelance.

  3. The heart of the matter is not truth, unfortunately, but are the claims actionable under California law?

    I would try to refute one or two of Sager’s claims, find the relevant case law, and show why they are actionable.

  4. Ted,

    One crucial point. And I mention it because, well, you’re a liberal/progressive type and (sorry) they, invariably are, gosh diddly darn it, nice people who get screwed over.

    If someone did something like this to me? I would sue EVERY single person who helped. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I would be absolutely without mercy or compassion. I would make it my sole objective for the rest of my life to drive every single person who did this to me over the brink. Professional ruin. Financial devastation. Suicide. I would make revenge my god, and I would not stop until I had exhausted every single possible LEGAL method available to me.

    At some point, probably LITERALLY on your way into the courtroom, they’re gonna try to negotiate a settlement. You know what? You’re an adult, Ted. It’s your call to make. Me? After all this? I wouldn’t let them get away with a settlement unless they paid me a sum equivalent to whatever the LAPD pension fund is worth, fired every LATimes employee who was involved (and I mean fired, not resigned, not left to spend time with family, I mean fired), ran a full-page retraction on the front cover, five days in a row, in 24-point font (I’d be the one to write the copy, which as part of the settlement, could not be altered one jot or tittle) and then hired you full-time as the paper’s ombudsman with a 25-year contract.

    But, like I said, you’re in charge. If all you want is a super-genuine apology and your $300-a-week gig that you could lose two days after the trial’s dismissed, go right ahead.

    Ted, I wish you luck because this is, genuinely, one of the most troublesome-looking cases of newspaper treachery I can recall. If they get away with this, I doubt it will take much longer for the rest of the pension funds to take over what’s left of the industry. And we can all look forward to headlines like “Amazon Is Great.” “Yet Again, Facebook Does Something Super Great.” “Pepsi.”

      • Very true. But after arriving at the other end of all this treachery, what else would I have anyway? My professional reputation in tatters, a bunch of fair-weather friends who suddenly misplaced their fingers when I needed them to come to my aid? Win or lose, Ted’s going to be looking at a lot of contact information in his address book and going, “Oh, right. Him. The one who didn’t help while they were trying to slice off my professional balls. And her. Same thing. And him. And him. And her. …”

        Ted’s case is, at its core, a simple one: Did he do something journalistically wrong in his work for the LATimes? Did he lie? So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that would allow me to arrive at a conclusion that he did. The “evidence” against Rall appears to be limited to a copy of a recording (of very poor quality) that was made over 15 years ago. Everything I learned in school tells me that the quantity and quality of evidence involved is simply not sufficient.

        Possibly, Ted will lose on a technicality. That’s how the powerful usually screw over the everyman. But I hope ted wins. I really do. I hope he writes a book about it, and I hope he wins the goddamned Pulitzer for it.

      • But the issue now isn’t whether Ted told the truth or not. That is for trial.

        The issue is, based on what the Times wrote about him, does he have a claim? Can he go to trial?

    • Alex: Based on the Times’ duplicitous and aggressive behavior for the last three years, I assume we’re going to trial. Which I very much look forward to.

      So it’s hard to imagine them offering any kind of settlement.

    • Been there, done that. In my case I settled – but there’s a good chance it fucked me for life. It’s on my ‘permanent record’ and potential employers can easily find it in today’s connected world. Looking back, I wish I’d gone to trial; the facts were overwhelmingly in my favor.

      So, I’m now unemployed – but I can look myself in the mirror without flinching. If more people refused to BOHICA, the world would be a better place.

  5. See Kavanaugh’s opinion in Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group (2014) where he writes that anti-SLAPP has no place in federal courts, but belongs under the direction of Congress.

    • “belongs under the direction of Congress”

      No, it belongs in the D.C. courts (which decided in a similar fashion to state courts, contrary to Federal court rules) to where that case was remanded and dismissed.

    • > See Kavanaugh’s opinion

      Will wonders never cease? You CAN list precedent.

      Unfortunately the one you chose is one in which the little guy got screwed over by the big guy with Kavanaugh’s whole-hearted support. That’s the exact opposite of what the anti-SLAPP laws are ostensibly about; as well as the exact opposite of the intent of the constitution. (“Equal justice under the law” ring a bell?) (yes, that’s a paraphrase, you either recognize the concept or are too ignorant to participate in this discussion.)

      So … now you want congress trying civil suits? I guess that means its up to the courts to pass laws? And here I thought you were against such things.

      But anyway, you just disproved your own assertion that Kavanaugh makes decisions based on Constitutional Law, and corroborated mine that he makes decisions based on his own superstitious biases.

      I win again.

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