John Oliver Wins This Round Against Coal Mogul

Judge dismisses Bob Murray's lawsuit
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2018 1:17 PM CST
Coal Mogul's Lawsuit Against John Oliver Dismissed
In this Nov. 7, 2017 file photo, comedian John Oliver performs at the 11th Annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit in New York.   (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP, File)

In the battle of John Oliver vs. coal mogul Bob Murray, Oliver has come out on top in one big way. Murray sued Oliver for defamation over the late-night host's Last Week Tonight takedown of the coal industry in general and Murray in particular, but last week, a West Virginia judge dismissed the lawsuit. The judge found that Murray's company failed to state a claim, the AP reports. But, the Hill reports, Murray Energy has vowed to appeal the decision to the state's Supreme Court. "This decision contains absolutely no legal reasoning, whatsoever, and instead blindly adopts the defendants deeply flawed arguments," the company said in a statement Saturday. "This is a flagrant disregard of the law, the facts, and the substantial damages intentionally inflicted by the defendants."

HBO, which airs Last Week Tonight, had defended Oliver's show. "The fact that Murray found this speech embarrassing or disagreeable does not remove it from the broad protection of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has stated time and again that the type of speech at issue here—news and commentary about public figures and issues of public importance—'occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection,'" the network said in a statement asking the judge to dismiss the case. (More John Oliver stories.)

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