Back in 2006, I wrote two posts about Western Seafood Co. v. City of Freeport, a potentially important post-Kelo eminent domain case decided by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (see here and here). The case became the subject of an excellent book by legal journalist Carla Main, who documented how the condemnation of the property was likely instigated by H. Walker Royall, the Texas oil millionaire who sought to acquire the land in order to build a luxury marina.
Now Royall is suing Main for libel, and also suing University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein because Epstein wrote a laudatory blurb for the book. Tim Sandefur has the details and additional links here. As Tim points out, it is unlikely that Royall will win his suit because he is clearly a "public figure" under New York Times v. Sullivan, and a public figure cannot prevail on a libel claim unless he proves both that the statements about him were untrue and that the the defendants knew it or acted with "reckless" disregard for the truth.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST WATCH: Richard Epstein and I have worked together on some other eminent domain issues, though not on this case. I also have done a variety of eminent domain-related pro bono work for the Institute for Justice, which is representing Epstein and Main.
Related Posts (on one page):
- Prof. Richard Epstein Dismissed from Book-Blurb Libel Case, on Jurisdictional Grounds:
- Journalist Carla Main Responds to Developer Who is Suing Her Claiming that She Defamed Him in Book Chronicling His Effort to Acquire Property Through Eminent Domain:
- Texas Developer Who Used Eminent Domain to Acquire Property for Himself Sues Journalist Carla Main and lawprof Richard Epstein for Libel: