Field Reports1 Mar, 2006 By: Thomas Haire, Nicole Urso Response
Court Grants ERA Motion to Strike Trudeau Lawsuit; Appeal Planned
VENTURA, Calif. — The defamation and unfair business practices lawsuit filed by infomercial host and "Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About" author Kevin Trudeau against the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and its president Barbara Tulipane was dismissed in a California Superior Court on Jan. 29.
"The Electronic Retailing Association is satisfied with today's court decision granting ERA's motion to strike the lawsuit filed by Mr. Kevin Trudeau against ERA and its CEO Ms. Barbara Tulipane on September 21, 2005," the ERA announced in a public release. "Ms. Tulipane is pleased to put this issue behind her and continue focusing on the well being of the organization and the vitality of the direct response industry. ERA remains committed to promoting the growth of electronic retailing worldwide."
Infomercial host Kevin Trudeau is undeterred from continuing his battle against ERA and marketing his top-selling book.
During the hearing, lawyers for ERA and Tulipane argued, in essence, that her statements at issue in Trudeau's suit (made public in the Aug. 7, 2005 issue of USA Today) constituted protected opinion. According to the defendants, their statements were more figurative expressions about which no reasonable person would assume that the speaker had provable facts supporting the statements. Trudeau's counsel argued that, as a matter of law, the threshold question is whether a reasonable factfinder could conclude that the statements imply an assertion of objective fact. If that is the case, then the statements are actionable.
The court, after hearing arguments from both sides, granted the Defendants' motion to strike because, in the court's opinion, the statements were more in the nature of protected opinion. Trudeau plans to appeal to the California Appellate Court, which will review the issue de novo (i.e., without deference to the Trial Court's conclusion).
"Barbara Tulipane and the ERA publicly attacked me by suggesting to the press that I tarnished the electronic retailing industry," Trudeau says in a statement. "I am not afraid to publicly speak my mind, and I have spoken according to my personal beliefs. The ERA is acting out because they don't want me to express my honest opinions about the association."
Aside from the lawsuit against the Association, Trudeau has also reportedly hired private investigators to uncover illegitimate business practices carried out by ERA board members.