Bertrand and Goosmann Law Firm Appeal Defamation Case to U.S. Supreme Court

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Senator Rick Bertrand has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (Bertrand v. Mullin and The Iowa Democratic Party). The Iowa Supreme Court recently overturned the hard-won verdict, decided by a jury of Senator Bertrand’s peers.

Goosmann Law Firm proudly won a $231,000 jury verdict for Rick Bertrand against the Iowa Democratic Party and Rick Mullin. The Woodbury County jury awarded Rick Bertrand $231,000 in damages after finding that Bertrand’s opponent and the Democratic Party committed libel and slander in a television ad in their 2010 race for an Iowa Senate seat.

The Iowa Supreme Court took up the case and overturned Bertrand’s hard-won verdict, decided by a jury of his peers.

Goosmann Law Firm relied on Supreme Court and Iowa Supreme Court case law that does not protect statements made about public figures if they are made with actual malice. Under the law, actual malice is shown when the defendant knew the statement was false, or acted with reckless disregard to whether the statement was false. Although the jury found, even under a strict clear and convincing evidential standard, that the statements were in fact made with actual malice, the Iowa Supreme Court disagreed. According to the Iowa Supreme Court, despite the fact that Bertrand personally told Mullin the attack ad was false, and despite the fact that Bertrand filed a lawsuit to enjoin Mullin and the Iowa Democratic Party from continuing their false ads, the defendants were not reasonably expected to know the ad contained lies. (Bertrand v. Mullin and The Iowa Democratic Party, Iowa Supreme Court Case No. 12-0649)

Bertrand’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was not unexpected. “Today was simply the next quiet step in the process. From day one I have said this is about changing the face of politics. This has never been about Democrats or Republicans…it’s about right and wrong,” said Bertrand. Bertrand emphasizes that he is continuing to fight for truth in public discourse about candidates for office. “Iowans and the Nation are tired of false attack ads in politics. As a voter, what can we believe? This case will change how political ads are developed, and I am pleased with the overwhelming National response as this case makes its way to the Supreme Court.”

Goosmann is optimistic with their chances in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Goosmann stated “This case gives the Supreme Court justices the opportunity to define truth and lies in political campaigns,” adding that the case could have far-reaching implications. “The Supreme Court has the opportunity to reset the course of public discussion about political candidates and to ensure the public is provided truthful information about those who seek to lead them.” (Bertrand v. Mullin and The Iowa Democratic Party, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 14-190)

Past case results do not indicate the outcome of your case and case results are not typical.

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Jeana Goosmann

Rachel Thompson
since: 11/2011
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