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Home / MLM News Roundup / National / Glenn Beck moves to dismiss bombing-related libel lawsuit

Glenn Beck moves to dismiss bombing-related libel lawsuit

Conservative radio host Glenn Beck doesn’t dispute that he made a mistake, but believes the First Amendment shields him from a libel lawsuit related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

“Simply put, Plaintiff’s claims would deny Defendants – and anyone else choosing to exercise their right to freedom of speech in the course of criticizing the government’s efforts at combating terrorism – the protections guaranteed by the United States Constitution and Massachusetts Declaration of Rights,” Beck and co-defendants The Blaze Inc., Mercury Radio Arts Inc. and Premiere Radio Networks argue in a May 27 motion to dismiss.

The lawsuit was brought by Abdulrahman Alharbi, a student and Saudi Arabian citizen who lives in Revere. Alharbi was near the finish line when the bombs exploded and caught the attention of investigators, who subjected him to searches and questioning but ultimately cleared him of any connection to the attack.

Beck ran with the development in the early stages of the bombing investigation, calling Alharbi a “bad, bad” person and claiming he financed the attack. In the motion to dismiss, his Greenberg Traurig lawyers – Michael J. Grygiel, Mark A. Berthiaume and Zachary C. Kleinsasser – focus not on what Beck said or whether it was accurate, but primarily argue that the plaintiff hasn’t pleaded “factual allegations plausibly supporting that Defendants knew the broadcast statements to be false, or had serious doubts about their truth, and broadcast the statements anyway.”

“[B]ecause Plaintiff qualifies for purposes of the First Amendment as both a limited purpose public figure and an involuntary public figure with respect to the subject matter of the broadcasts complained of, any defamation claim he asserts must satisfy the rigorous constitutional ‘actual malice’ standard,” the motion states, adding later that, “The Complaint woefully fails to satisfy this obligation.”

Alharbi’s lawyer, Peter J. Haley of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, said he plans to file a response to the motion by Friday, June 20, and would not comment in the meantime.