Rolling Stone Challenges Verdict in UVa Defamation Case | NBC Southern California
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Rolling Stone Challenges Verdict in UVa Defamation Case

Attorneys for Rolling Stone said the judge should overrule the jury's verdict because there is no evidence that the publication acted with actual malice



    Steve Helber, AP
    In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, students walk to campus past the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. Rolling Stone is challenging the verdict in a defamation case awarded to a former dean at the school for a published story that was later shown to contain false information.

    Rolling Stone magazine urged a federal judge on Monday to overturn the verdict of a jury, which found that the publication and a reporter defamed a University of Virginia administrator with their botched story about a gang rape on campus. 

    Jurors awarded former Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo $3 million last month for her portrayal in Sabrina Rubin Erdely's November 2014 "A Rape on Campus" about a woman identified only as "Jackie." Jackie told Erdely that she was raped by seven men in a fraternity initiation, but a police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims.

    Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    [NATL] Tennessee Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    Lawmakers in Tennessee are crying foul after Republican Rep. Mike Sparks sneaked in a resolution to honor former Ku Klux Klansman Nathan Bedford Forrest with a bust under a different name. The resolution passed unanimously, 94-0, and the bust was installed at the state Capitol before lawmakers realized the mistake. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    In a motion filed Monday, attorneys for Rolling Stone said the judge should overrule the jury's verdict because there is no evidence that Erdely acted with actual malice. They're also challenging the jury's finding that the magazine's December 2014 online version of the article — with an editor's note acknowledging problems with the story — counted as "republishing" the false statements.

    Rolling Stone argues that punishing the magazine for trying to warn the public with the editor's note could prompt other outlets to stay silent when there are errors in an article in the future.

    "If the jury's verdict is allowed to stand, the severe legal risk of adding a warning editor's note to a story will force publishers not to make the very disclosures that the law encourages. Such a result is not only at odds with the law, it flies in the face of common sense, public policy, and the best interests of an informed public," attorneys for Rolling Stone said.

    Eramo, who counseled Jackie, had been seeking $7.5 million from the magazine, arguing that the story portrayed her as indifferent to Jackie's plight and interested only in protecting the university's reputation. She said during the trial that she feared for her life and contemplated suicide after the article was published.

    UC Davis Now Sells Plan B and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    [NATL] UC Davis Now Sells Plan B, Pregnancy Tests and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    Students at the University of California, Davis, can now purchase $30 Plan B emergency contraceptives, pregnancy tests, condoms and other personal care products from a vending machine. The idea came from UC Davis senior Parteek Singh, after a friend was unable to buy emergency contraceptives in time. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    Jurors awarded her $2 million for statements made by Erdely and $1 million for the republication of the article by Rolling Stone and its publisher, Wenner Media.

    An attorney for Eramo did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. 

    Rolling Stone's attorneys argued throughout the three-week trial that although it may have been a mistake to trust Jackie, their portrayal of the university and Eramo was fair and accurate. 

    Rolling Stone said Monday that to prove the editor's note version was a "republication" of the debunked story, Eramo's attorneys would have had to show that Rolling Stone was actively trying to target a new audience. Its attorneys wrote that it "defies logic" that Rolling Stone would try to recruit a new audience for a story that had become a "major black eye" for the publication.

    Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    [NATL] Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    A new study finds that it is not the elderly who are most susceptible to scam phone calls, but millennials, who are six times more likely to give away credit card information than any other age group. 

    (Published Saturday, April 29, 2017)

    The magazine did not officially retract the article and pull it down until the following April. 

    Because Eramo was deemed a public figure in the case, she had to prove that the magazine and Erdely acted with actual malice, meaning that that they knew what they were writing about Eramo was false or entertained serious doubts about whether it might be true.

    The magazine argues that the court should reverse the jury's finding that Erdely defamed Eramo, saying the reporter never entertained serious doubts that the statements were false.

    Rolling Stone also faces a $25 million lawsuit from Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity where Jackie claimed her assault took place. That case is scheduled to go to trial late next year.

    Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    [NATL] Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    Elizabeth "Lulu" Gilreath talks about her recovery from a carnival ride gone very wrong. Gilreath was scalped when her hair was caught on the King's Crown ride in Omaha, Nebraska, but she does not dwell on the incident, saying "My scars don't define me."

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)