On June 29, 2010, an Essex County Superior Court jury returned a verdict in a public figure defamation case against Beverly, Massachusetts trial attorney Jan R. Schlichtmann. Howard M. Cooper and David H. Rich of Todd & Weld LLP represented The Cadle Company in its suit against Mr. Schlichtmann. (Mr. Schlichtmann was portrayed by John Travolta in the 1998 motion picture, “A Civil Action.”)
The case was brought by The Cadle Company following Attorney Schlichtmann's creation and promotion of an internet website, first launched in April 2003. The Cadle Company contended that the website contained numerous false statements concerning The Cadle Company including statements that The Cadle Company was a “fraudulent enterprise.” Attorney Schlichtmann asserted claims against The Cadle Company and its Chairman, Daniel C. Cadle, alleging fraud, abuse of process, conspiracy and violation of his civil rights. All of Attorney Schlichtmann's claims were either dismissed by the Court or rejected by the jury.
After a month-long trial, the jury found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Attorney Schlichtmann had published his false and defamatory statements about The Cadle Company with actual malice and awarded $149,000 in damages to The Cadle Company. With interest, the judgment exceeds $240,000.
“It is not often that a financial company which is in the business of attempting to collect distressed debt wins a public figure defamation case, particularly a case involving a lawyer portrayed by John Travolta in a movie” said David H. Rich of Todd & Weld LLP.