Beck Defamation Suit May Cost Him Huge Money

The defamation suit filed by Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi against Glenn Beck, who publicly declared him to be the “money man” behind the Boston Marathon bombing, may have just gotten a lot more expensive. The judge has allowed Alharbi to add a count of unjust enrichment, which could push the damages should Beck lose much higher.

In order to prove defamation, a plaintiff must show that false statements were made about him and that those statements caused harm to the plaintiff’s reputation. It is now clear that indeed false statements were made by Beck about Alharbi and it should not be difficult for Alahrbi to prove that his reputation was harmed by those statements, however, the case does not end there.

In the landmark Supreme Court case of New York Times v. Sullivan and in a series of cases since then including Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, the Supreme Court ruled that when it comes to public officials and public figures, there is an additional burden of proof for a plaintiff alleging he has been defamed by the media. In those cases, a plaintiff will not be successful in a defamation case unless he can prove in addition to the statements being false and that he was harmed by the statements that the statements were made with malice either knowing the statements were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth. This higher standard makes it much more difficult for a public official or public figure to win a defamation lawsuit. Thus Beck’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by arguing that Alharbi was a public figure and Alharbi had not alleged that Beck had made his statements with malice. In December the judge denied Beck’s motion.

Now in a significant ruling, Judge Patti B. Saris has allowed Alharbi to amend his defamation lawsuit by adding a count for unjust enrichment. In allowing this count to be added to the complaint, Judge Saris has significantly upped the amount of a possible judgment. In her decision, Judge Saris stated that “Massachusetts courts have recognized that misuse of confidential information may lead to unjust enrichment.” Judge Saris also cited the defamation and unjust enrichment lawsuit brought by former Minnesota Governor and former Navy SEAL, Jesse Ventura against Chris Kyle, the author of the book and the subject of the movie “American Sniper.” In the book and in a later interview with Bill O’Reilly about the book, Kyle described an alleged bar fight involving Ventura during a wake for one of Kyle’s comrades killed in action. In his O’Reilly interview account of the fight, Kyle quoted Ventura as saying the Seals deserved to “lose a few” due to their involvement in an unjust war in Iraq. In Kyle’s version of the altercation, Ventura ended up “on the floor” with a black eye. The case went to trial after the death of Kyle and ended with a largely reported verdict in favor of Ventura, the plaintiff. What was less reported was the jury’s verdict consisted of an award of $500,000 for defamation and $1.35 million for unjust enrichment.

I hope this costs Beck every single penny he’s made. I hope he goes down so hard that he’s on the sidewalk begging for change after it’s done.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • StevoR

    If only it could cost Glenn Beck his audience and job too ..

  • llewelly

    I am not too sure about this. I think Americans need people like Glenn Beck who defend our rights to fill our basements with fake gold, improperly stored food, and squirrel hunting ammo.

  • D. C. Sessions

    llewelly: The world can never have too many Hitler/Nazi comparisons.

  • Big Boppa

    I hope this costs Beck every single penny he’s made. I hope he goes down so hard that he’s on the sidewalk begging for change after it’s done.

    If that happens, I will gladly toss a few fake gold coins in his cup.

  • John Pieret

    A consummation devoutly to be wished.

  • sundiver

    If Beck winds up begging for change on the sidewalk I hope he gets his ass thrown in jail for vagrancy.

  • StevoR

    I also wonder who makes up Beck’s audience, how he got them and how many actually take him seriously and believe the words he spews and chalks out and why?

  • k_machine

    I also wonder who makes up Beck’s audience, how he got them and how many actually take him seriously and believe the words he spews and chalks out and why?

    He got his start as a radio shock jock. One way of looking at it that he still is, only his subjects are political rather than the usual fare. One can wonder if people listen to him because they agree, or if they just want to laugh at the latest outrageous stuff that Beck is saying. It might also be a Fox News situation where Beck makes a living scaring doddering senior citizens.

  • Michael Heath

    I know Glen Beck fans. I ones I know love him because he gives voice to their false beliefs, fears, and bigotries. He also makes them feel like their beliefs have merit. That’s in spite of their inability to defend their beliefs outside their tribe.

    It appears to me that Mr. Beck’s fans largely overlap Sarah Palin’s fan base. That’d be dumb people who lack self-esteem because their beliefs can’t withstand scrutiny yet they cling to those beliefs.

    A dependence on fundamentalist faith has generated an enormous amount amount of resentment since science falsified creationism, that optimal economic policies are predominately promoted by the out-tribe political party, that the U.S. Constitution demands equal protection for women, black people, non-Christians, and LGBTs, and that reality reveals the end of the world via Jesus is absurd.

    I think Ms. Palin’s fantastical faith that she will be a leader in Armageddon where billions will die is a [unconscious?] desire to hurt the people that make her feel like the stupid, hateful, vengeful person she demonstrates herself to be. Glenn Beck also taps into that resentment and justifies the hatred these people feel towards others.

  • raven

    Even if Glenn Beck loses, quite likely IMO, and gets a big dollar judgement against him, he won’t really notice.

    He is worth something like $100 million and has a high cash flow. A million or two to settle a lawsuit is a minor cost of doing business.

  • raven

    Exclusive: Glenn Beck’s company makes how much? – Fortune

    fortune. com/2013/…/exclusive-glenn-becks-company-makes-how-much/

    May 6, 2013 – Glenn Beck doesn’t just hawk gold, he mints it. … TheBlaze is generating between $35 million and $45 million in revenue per year, according to …

    Beck’s gross is ca. $40 million a year.

    I don’t know the profit although that may also be known. But much of that $40 million is going to be profit. The main asset is Beck’s weird brain and the main cost is communications.

  • dingojack

    Bek begging for quarters? Nah — he’ll just set-up ‘FundMyBigotry’ account and sit back to let the ‘martyrdom express’ send the cash rolling in…

    Let’s not forget Bek’s audience are largely gullible idiots.

    :( Dingo

  • grumpyoldfart

    Is it possible for a character like Beck to organize his affairs in such a way that he can tell the judge that paying the cash could cause him hardship – and then request that he be allowed to pay it off in small weekly installments?

  • John Pieret

    Is it possible for a character like Beck to organize his affairs in such a way that he can tell the judge that paying the cash could cause him hardship – and then request that he be allowed to pay it off in small weekly installments?

    Well, yes and no. Personal injury awards (which is what this would be) are not subject to the bankruptcy laws. They are among the first paid out, and without reduction. in any bankruptcy. Beck’s other creditors could (depending on the bankruptcy type … it’s a maze) be made to wait for partial payment. That said, I seriously doubt that any award in this case would put Beck in bankruptcy.

    Most likely he’ll have to put on one of his cryie faces before he writes a very large but not bank-busting check.

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    All Beck has to do is put out the begging bowl, and much of the money will come from his fans. He’ll be fine, unfortunately.

  • dmcclean

    Has Beck yet disclosed what he was planning to release after the three day ultimatum he gave the FBI? Because, unless he releases something that at least plausibly could have been construed, on the basis of what was known at the time, as evidence against Alharbi, it seems that making a showing of actual malice wouldn’t be insurmountable even if the motion had gone the other way.

    There’s no way the damages awarded in this case will make a dent in Beck’s personal fortune, but I’ll certainly join the chorus of those who wish that they would.

  • whheydt

    Is there any showing the plaintiff could make that would treble any damages awarded by a jury?

  • Paul Neubauer

    My son and I were talking about this case a couple of weeks ago and I suggested that (if and/) when the subject of punitive damages (or unjust enrichment) comes up, I would want Alharbi’s lawyers to point out that $1 million is approximately the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad and that any kind of punitive damages ought to be higher than what Beck could plausibly regard as simply the cost of publicity. I would then ask for something like $5 million, whether awarded directly to Alharbi or to 1-5 journalism schools to fund “Ethics in Journalism” studies (and NOT named after Beck). IMHO, that might be enough to be felt. Even if he is worth $100 million, a 5% hit on his net worth ought to have some deterrent effect. (And if he were to repeat something comparably egregious after a $5,000,000 judgment, the next victim should ask for $20,000,000 on the basis that $5 million was obviously not enough for deterrence.)

  • lorn

    My one question: Is there anything I can do to assist or expedite Beck losing in as big a way as possible?