The Volokh Conspiracy

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Two Procedural Orders from the Trump Media & Technology Group Libel Lawsuit Against the Washington Post


The factual backstory (just a snippet), as summarized in the Post's notice of removal to federal court:

In its Complaint, Plaintiff asserts a claim for defamation and a claim for conspiracy to defame against the Post. Compl. at ¶¶ 21-32. Plaintiff operates a social media platform called "Truth Social." Id. at ¶1. Plaintiff alleges that on May 13, 2023, the Post published an article allegedly reporting that plaintiff arranged an $8 million loan from a Caribbean bank associated with servicing the adult entertainment industry. Id. at ¶¶11-12. Plaintiff asserts causes of action for defamation and conspiracy. Plaintiff alleges compensatory damages of at least $2,780,000.00 and punitive damages of at least $1,000,000.00.

(You can also see the full Complaint.) The orders today from Judge Thomas Barber:

Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss" (Doc. 17) is hereby stricken. Plaintiff's memorandum violates the page limitation imposed by Local Rule 3.01(b). The memorandum also appears to violate the typography requirements imposed by Local Rule 1.08. Plaintiff may file a memorandum in opposition that conforms to the Local Rules on or before August 14, 2023….

"Defendant WP Company LLC's Motion for Leave to File a Short Reply Brief" (Doc. 18) is denied. If necessary to resolve the pending motion, the Court will direct the parties to file supplemental memoranda or set a hearing to further address the legal issues and arguments in this case. Defendant's motion for leave criticized Plaintiff's responsive memorandum as violating the page limitations imposed by the Local Rules. Defendant's point is correct but, ironically, Defendant's motion for leave also violates the Local Rules. It offers substantive argument in violation of the prohibition on filing a reply without leave of court. See Local Rule 3.01(d). It also arguably exceeds the page limit of three pages "inclusive of all parts." Id….

Finally, the closing sentences included in both orders:

The parties are encouraged to adhere to the terms of Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that "[t]hese rules… should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding." Unnecessary motion practice, nit-picking, gamesmanship, and "gotcha" litigation tactics are a complete waste of everyone's time and do not further the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of the issues in this, or any other, proceeding….