Will Daniel Snyder’s Lawsuit Go Anywhere?


‘Statue of Iustitia’
courtesy of ‘ralpe’

In my family, to my mother’s constant disappointment, I’m the one who didn’t go to law school. But I grew up around legalese and learned to argue at the kitchen table, so I like to read legal filings and opinions more than the average non-lawyer.

This is how I came to read the filing in Daniel M. Snyder vs Atalaya Capital Management, LP, et al.  I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but here’s a quick analysis of the filing and what it might actually mean. Postscript: TBD has also written about the suit’s merits

  • Section 7 of the filing claims that the City Paper “competes directly with Mr. Snyder’s Red Zebra Broadcasting for local advertising in the Washington metropolitan area.” This point is reiterated in section 17.

Eh? Mmmmaybe, but they fail to make this relevant anywhere else in the filing.

  • Sections 18 and 19 translate roughly to, “the mean people at the mean paper were mean to me.”

He’s a public figure; the court just won’t care.

  • On the other hand, though, there are references in sections 1 and 6 to the characterization of his wife’s role as a spokeswoman for breast care awareness “as that of being a mere ‘salesperson’ for the ‘transformation’ of her husband’s public image.”

The court might choose to look into that some more. He’s a public figure, and by becoming a spokeswoman she also entered that realm, but this characterization might make the court more sympathetic to the plaintiff’s case.

  • Section 20 complains of “an anti-Semitic depiction of Mr. Snyder with horns on his head, bushy eyebrows, and surrounded by dollar signs.”

Here I’ll let Mike Madden respond for the WCP.

  • In section 21, items a-d make specific claims. Section 22 attempts to claim that the defamatory implication and effect was “magnified and aggravated by the outrageous anti-Semitic depiction.”

This is where the case will actually move forward in a meaningful way. This stuff is all a matter of public record and it will depend on who else reported on it and how (for instance, there’s a Slate article on the Six Flags mess, but it was written by … wait for it … Dave McKenna). But since the allegation that the illustration was anti-Semitic won’t hold any water, neither will the claim that it magnified and aggravated the defamation.

My prediction: the defense will move for summary judgment and won’t get it, but the case will proceed only on the narrow grounds of section 21, and maybe on the allegations about Snyder’s wife.

Again: I am not a lawyer, and this is not to be construed as legal advice, just a diversion on an afternoon.

Fedward Potz has lived in the District for fifteen years. He enjoys good food, craft cocktails, photography, music, and long walks on the beach.

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