Some initial thoughts about this case from a lawyer. First, many do not have any clue what a huge investment in time, money and resources this case will have on the law firm representing the plaintiff. Thousands of hours will be spent–working for free. The NYTs will not roll over and play dead. And while the NYT’s attorneys are being paid a king’s ransom to defend The Grey Lady, the plaintiff’s lawyers are working for free. This is a classic case where the plaintiff could not afford to sue to clear her name if we did not have the contingency fee system. Granted, her attorneys could become rich. If they win. And the case is not set aside on appeal. In several years. After literally risking millions of dollars worth of their time and money. Or they could get nothing.
I’m not sure I would have recommended filing the law suit in the EDof Virginia at Richmond. This case could have been brought literally anywhere in the U.S. The juries here are typically conservative when it comes to giving a verdict to plaintiffs, and in the amounts that they award. I guess her lawyers believe that the conservative juries will dislike the liberal newspaper. And the best thing about this venue is it is known as “the Rocket Docket.” They might get a trial in less than a year (a typical case would be more like <6 months), whereas if they brought it in other venues it could be 2-3 years, or more.
Finally, after reading the complaint, I genuinely felt sorry for the lady. Imagine having your name and picture plastered all over America, and the internet. When it was published, I only felt fury against the paper for the obviously biased hit-piece against McCain. I didn’t even think about what it would do to the plaintiff. But who wants to hire a tainted lobbyist after such negative publicity? I sure wish I could be a juror in this case. I’d ask the judge, as the foreman did in “The Verdict”, whether the jury could award more money than was requested by the plaintiff [in Virginia the answer is no]. Go get ‘em Ms. Iseman!