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Free Speech

$300K Settlement in Libel Lawsuit Over Allegations of "Stalking and Harassing" American Mensa Official


Further evidence that libel lawsuits, though not easy to win, can indeed sometimes yield substantial recovery; for the details on the deal, which I assume is being paid for by Mensa's liability insurance company, see here. Here's a summary of the undisputed facts, to give a sense of the underlying claim (in Levine v. American Mensa Ltd.):

(1) Mr. Levine was a member of American Mensa for thirty years up until 2008, when he was expelled from the organization. Mr. Levine objected to his expulsion from membership as unfair and unjustified.

(2) Since his expulsion in 2008, Mr. Levine has attended many of the yearly Mensa Annual Gatherings which occur in different cities across the United States.

(3) The events of this lawsuit relate primarily, but not exclusively, to the Mensa Annual Gathering that occurred at the JW Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana in July 2018.

(4) During the week of July 4, 2018, Mr. Levine contends that authorized representatives of Mensa, including its Chairwoman LaRae Bakerink published statements, both written and oral, accusing Mr. Levine of "verbally abusing" multiple members, and of "stalking" and "harassing" a Mensa leader, staff and members during the 2018 AG.

(5) Mr. Levine alleges that to carry out a pre-meditated attempt to exclude him from the JW Marriott Hotel during the 2018 Annual Gathering, representatives of American Mensa orally and in writing informed hotel management that Mr. Levine was harassing, verbally abusing and stalking Mensa members who were in attendance, including Chairwoman LaRae Bakerink.

(6) Mr. Levine claims that on September 10, 2018, Chairwoman Bakerink repeated the alleged false accusation of "stalking" on MensaConnect, an American Mensa internet forum restricted to American Mensa Committee Members (the Mensa board of directors) and director Trevor Mitchell only.

(7) Levine alleges that on or after July 3, 2018, Mensa, through Chairwoman Bakerink, intentionally repeated and republished the false charge of stalking by Levine to other members of American Mensa, including allegations of a repeated history of stalking by Levine.

(8) Levine claims the statements were false because he did not engage in any harassment or stalking of American Mensa members or any other J.W. Marriot guests. Levine also alleges the statements were defamatory per se because he was accused of a crime: stalking.

(9) Prior to the 2018 Annual Gathering Mr. Levine created a website at, which has garnered scant attention from the public.

Congratulations to John P. Atkins (Thompson Coburn LLP) and Alan E. Lubel, who represented Mr. Levine; my sense of the matter is that the settlement is indeed on balance a victory (given the difficulty of litigating libel claims), though I might be mistaken.