Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian Blog

Torts/Constitution—First Amendment: Defamation Involving Statements Made in Political Race

Posted by Ted A. Schmidt | Feb 02, 2022 | 0 Comments

Rogers v. Superior Court, No CV-21-0001-PR (February 1, 2022) (J. Bolick)

First amendment protects speech in political advertisement implicating nonpolitical third party.

Defendant ran for U.S. House of Representatives running a political ad disparaging her opponent and the modeling agency where he worked. The  radio  ad, among other things, stated, “Smith is a slimy character whose modeling agency specializes in underage girls and advertises on websites linked to sex trafficking.” The ad did not identify Smith's employer the Young Modeling Agency [Young] and plaintiff here. Young sued for defamation. The defendant moved for summary judgment which was denied by the trial court but  was reversed on Special Action by the Arizona Court of Appeals. The Arizona Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals decision and reversed and remanded the trial court.

To allow a defamation action to proceed where

the publication is a political advertisement directed

at an opposing candidate, where the plaintiff is

unnamed in the publication, where the challenged

statement is conceded to be true, and where the alleged

offending implication is not obvious, would not only

chill free speech in this case but also open the floodgates

to litigants who are aggrieved by perceived indignities

visited upon them by politicians.

About the Author

Ted A. Schmidt

Ted's early career as a trial attorney began on the other side of the fence, in the offices of a major insurance defense firm. It was there that Ted acquired the experience, the skills and the special insight into defense strategy that have served him so well in the field of personal injury law. Notable among his successful verdicts was the landmark Sparks vs. Republic National Life Insurance Company case, a $4.5 million award to Ted's client. To this day, it is the defining case for insurance bad faith, and yet it is only one of several other multi-million dollar jury judgments won by Ted during his career. He is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in "wrongful death and bodily injury litigation".


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Our team works together - for you!

Our award-winning lawyers are backed by a talented, caring team of legal professionals, paralegals, bilingual assistants, notaries, and others - all dedicated to you, your case, and the compensation you deserve.

No fees and no costs until we win.

As such we always have your case and your best interest in mind. When you win, we win too by providing the best legal care possible.

Thorough investigation and preparation.

We tirelessly and thoughtfully prepare every case we represent as though it was going to trial. This lets insurance companies know that we are a force to be reckoned with. As such, we settle successfully 98% of the time.