IA Justices Decline to Raise Bar for Libel Suits
by Associated Press
January 21, 2013 11:32 AM
The Iowa Supreme Court has declined to adopt a tougher standard for libel lawsuits in the age of Internet communication.
The court ruled Friday it will continue to recognize a doctrine that makes it easier for plaintiffs to win defamation claims against private individuals than against media outlets.
In a 5-2 decision, the court says the doctrine helps to "keep our social interactions from becoming ever more coarse and personally destructive."
Media groups asked the court to abandon the doctrine, which presumes that allegedly defamatory statements published by individuals are false and that plaintiffs suffer damages. Similar lawsuits against media defendants require proof of falsehood and damages.
Critics say the doctrine hurts free speech and is no longer workable since the line between media and non-media publishers has been blurred.