Poop cult leader Jillian Epperly lost in an Ohio court. A judge in the Small Claims division tossed out her lawsuit against Katie Joy of Without a Crystal Ball. The decision by the court ends a month-long dispute between the two women where Epperly accused Katie Joy of defamation and libel.
In an update from the court, the judge announced the dismissal of the case.
“This matter came before the court on Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisidiction filed April 30, 2019 and Plaintiff’s objection to Defendant’s motion to dismiss filed May 1, 2019.
The court finds that the small claims court doest not have jurisdiction over Plantiff’s small claims complaint. Plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed without prejudice. Is is so ordered.”
According to Ohio law, libel and defamation cases cannot be tried in the small claims division. Lawsuits alleging defamation or slander must be tried in a civil district court. By Epperly’s own admission in April, she was unable to find a lawyer willing to take the case to the district court.
Dismissal without prejudice means that Epperly could take the case to a court with jurisdiction. However, defamation cases are tough to prove and expensive to litigate. According to a civil attorney we interviewed, laws around defamation almost always favor the press.
Digital Media Law Project explains that the United States Constitution protects opinions and fair comments made by journalists.
“The right to speak guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes the right to voice opinions, criticize others, and comment on matters of public interest. It also protects the use of hyperbole and extreme statements when it is clear these are rhetorical ploys.
Accordingly, you can safely state your opinion that others are inept, stupid, jerks, failures, etc. even though these statements might hurt the subject’s feelings or diminish their reputations. Such terms represent what is called “pure opinions” because they can’t be proven true or false. As a result, they cannot form the basis for a defamation claim.”
Additionally, journalists and writers are safe to report allegations against individuals as long as there are factual statements in the article that support their claim.
In defamation cases, the plaintiff needs to prove that a person published untrue statements. According to the law firm Novins, York, and Jacobus, individuals must show that the lies published about them harmed them. The firm says these cases are costly because they require extensive research and experts to verify the claims.
If the plaintiff’s wish to collect damages for lost wages, the court requires them to provide bank statements, records, and other supporting documents proving the statements led to the loss in income.
Because Epperly does not sell a product, she would have a difficult time proving a loss of income. Epperly has written a book that is self-published by Lulu.com.
The court would require Epperly to prove the published articles caused hundreds of people not to purchase the book. She would need to provide affidavits from consumers that state they did not buy the book based on lies published in the articles.
Nearly a dozen media outlets have published articles about Epperly since the spring of 2018. Also, Dr. Phil aired an episode with Epperly where she claimed her drink could regrow limbs. During the episode, two women shared that the cabbage drink caused them to have strokes. A doctor on the show discussed the dangers associated with drinking too much sodium.
For years Epperly has hosted daily live streams on Facebook. However, she announced this morning that she was taking a break from Facebook. Perhaps the news of her lawsuit dismissal prompted her sudden silence.
While Jillian plans her next steps, the court case will end. She may have other plans for her takedown of the media. However, a judge in Ohio spoke loudly and clearly today.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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