***Update***: Carrier tells me, “If I can find affordable counsel I’m just going to refile in their jurisdictions, going after each of them separately.”
***Update 2***: Carrier has posted his own response here.
After two years, a lawsuit that could have shut down two large atheist blog networks has been dismissed by a judge.
The lawsuit began in September of 2016, when Dr. Richard Carrier (below), the author of several books about ancient philosophy, religion, and science, sued individual atheists, Freethought Blogs and The Orbit (atheist blog networks), and the Skepticon conference on charges of defamation, interference with his business, and emotional distress. Those charges stemmed from posts made about his alleged sexual harassment, an accusation he repeatedly denied.
The lawsuit hit a snag when the defendants called for it to be dismissed for two technical reasons: They said that none of them lived in Ohio, where the case was filed and where they’d have to appear in court, and that there was no good reason for the case to be heard in the state at all. (Carrier had moved to Ohio after the incidents in question took place.)
Under Ohio law, Carrier had to show that an injury happened in that state… and that wasn’t possible, the defendants argued, since they didn’t even know he was moving there. (Carrier claimed they did know this.) In addition, they argued that reporting on alleged harassment wasn’t about trying to screw him over, but rather “to protect his possible future victims.”
It’s worth noting that Ohio lacks any anti-SLAPP protections — making it easier to sue people who may not have the money to fight back.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson dismissed the case “for lack of personal jurisdiction” — essentially saying there was no good reason for this lawsuit to take place in Ohio. It was, however, dismissed “without prejudice” so it’s possible Carrier could sue again in a more appropriate venue… but it would have to happen in a handful of states with anti-SLAPP protections (which could cost him if he loses).
As of last night, Carrier had not responded to my request for comment. But the defendants are celebrating — and why wouldn’t they? After two years and a lot of money for lawyers, their ordeal is over… at least for now.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Portions of this article were published earlier)