John Oliver defeats 'geriatric Dr. Evil'

Brunilde Fioravanti
Febbraio 25, 2018

John Oliver has emerged from a defamation lawsuit unscathed.

Robert Murray, Murray Energy and other associated coal companies sued both the network and Oliver in June, arguing the host created a "villainous" portrait of the coal baron. Judge Jeffrey D. Cramer has dismissed the case on the basis of that second claim.

The attorneys for HBO argued that Murray did not have a case for defamation, as the critical portions of Oliver's segment were based on judges' opinions and government reports, and the more personal jabs at Murray counted as satire, which is protected speech and can not be proven false.

"I find the arguments set forth in the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and Reply well-founded, appropriate in this matter and will grant the same", writes Cramer. "I stand by everything I said", said Oliver, who called the CEO a "geriatric Dr. Evil".

They added: 'Presumably to boost ratings, line their pockets with profits, and advance the show's anti-coal agenda, Defendant Oliver intentionally, falsely, and outrageously conveyed that Mr Murray has no evidence to support his statements that an quake caused the tragedy'. Oliver noted during the segment that he had been threatened with a lawsuit if he made a decision to air said segment, but went ahead and did so anyway because why not?

The energy chief's lawyers had claimed Oliver "executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies".

According to their submitted brief on the issue, Oliver, HBO, and Partially Important Productions contended that Murray's complaint "disregards long-settled First Amendment and common law protections for the two types of speech challenged here: accurate reporting on government activity, and commentary and satire on matters of public concern".

Cramer then asked attorneys for HBO, Oliver and producers to prepare a proposed order within 20 days for the court's review.

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