Judge SLAPPs down defamation suit filed by Larry Klayman and 9/11 ally

McClatchy Washington BureauApril 18, 2014 

A federal judge has tossed a defamation lawsuit filed by aggressive litigator Larry Klayman and Vincent Forras, founder of the Gear Up Foundation.

Neither Klayman nor Forras is a shrinking violet.

As U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein summed up in her 17-page opinion, Forras “claims to have been a ‘first responder’ to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and has made himself an outspoken public advocate on issues regarding the September 11 attacks, personally and through an organization he founded, the Gear Up Foundation” while Klayman “engages in political commentary

and institutes litigation on behalf of causes he advocates.”

Forras has gotten lots of attention for 9/11, not all of it favorable.

Some of the attention followed Forras’s legal action to stop the so-called “Ground Zero mosque.”

In moving to dismiss that suit, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and attorney Adam Leitman Bailey filed a motion that called Klayman an “infamous publicity hound” and that said Forras “trades in his well deserved laurels for fifteen minutes of fame as a nationally recognized bigot.”

Klayman and Forras sued, with the defamation case eventually making it into U.S. District Court. In her decision Friday, Rothstein tossed the measure out under the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation policy, which authorizes dismissal where a defendant shows that the statements in question “arise from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest.”

Rothstein said, among other things, that while she wasn’t condoning the comments, “the immunity of the absolute privilege supports the public policy of allowing counsel to zealously represent a client's interests without fear of reprisal through defamation actions.”

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