James MacDonald is suing critics again

"Harvest Bible Chapel’s founder and former leader James MacDonald has slapped Chicago radio personality Matthew 'Mancow' Muller with a lawsuit alleging multiple counts defamation and is seeking at least $50,000 in compensatory damages for the spread of false information which caused him emotional distress and significant harm to his reputation." - Christian Post

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Bert Perry's picture

It's fifty grand a pop for eighteen seemingly overlapping charges of defamation, and it's really built around the argument that since he didn't sign off on Mancow's playing his recorded remarks, that it somehow amounts to defamation to publish what he actually said and wrote.  The trouble with this is that the courts have rarely applied such privacy laws against journalists--the basic counter-argument is "it isn't defamation to say what a person has actually said, so if you don't want it to be public, don't say it".  

You would think that MacDonald would have learned something from the debacle with his lawsuit against Julie Roys and the "Elephant's Debt" crew, where the legal process of discovery led him to pull the suit, but apparently not.  In this case, he's also facing two opponents with much deeper pockets, one of which (Cumulus Media, Mancow's employer) is not bound by any 1 Cor. 6 restraints on lawsuits of believers.

(significance of pulling the first suit when discovery was clarified as mandatory: it means that MacDonald knew that the documents Roys subpoenaed would torpedo his case)

Put gently, this one could work out really, really badly for MacDonald, and quite frankly, for his lawyers as well.  Part of professional ethics is, after all, to warn the prospective plaintiff "the way I see the evidence, you are risking not only losing very badly, but also a counter-suit that could bankrupt you."  And if a lawyer goes ahead with such a suit, or worse yet does not warn the prospective plaintiff, yes, he should face disciplinary action.

Next up: what's going to happen as the financial audits of Harvest get done.  It is not outside the realm of possibility that he could do some hard time in prison.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.