Today U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in favor of Councilmember Sawant in dismissing a defamation lawsuit filed against her by two SPD officers who claimed that she called them murderers.
From the ruling:
Sawant asks that the claims not advance to trial because Miller and Spaulding have failed to identify sufficient evidence that her words were defamatory. The Court agrees and finds in Sawant’s favor for three independent reasons.
First, Sawant’s remarks are inactionable statements of opinion. Second, even if the Court were to construe Sawant’s remarks as actionable, factual statements, Miller and Spaulding have failed to provide evidence that might allow a jury to find them to be false. Third, Miller and Spaulding have failed to provide sufficient evidence that Sawant acted with “actual malice.”
Each of these findings separately and independently support entry of summary judgment in Sawant’s favor on Plaintiffs’ claims. The Court’s ruling makes a trial and any further proceedings unnecessary.