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Judge tosses $10 million suit against citizen blogger

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Ray W. Grubbs ruled that a Christiansburg developer failed to make out a case in his lawsuit against a community blogger who criticized the developer online.

Grubbs this week dismissed the suit filed by Roger Woody against Terry Ellen Carter, one of the authors of a blog called “Think, Christiansburg!“  Although Woody can refile if he beefs up his allegations, one lawyer involved in the case said he did not expect another attempt by Woody.

Woody demanded $10 million, claiming that Carter’s blog hurt his reputation and caused a loss of sales and profit.  Floyd lawyer Jonathan Rogers along with the ACLU of Virginia filed the demurrer on Carter’s behalf.

Grubbs ruled the complaint fell short of the facts needed to support claims of conspiracy to harm a business, tortious inference with contract, and “insulting words.”

Rogers said that Woody was simply trying to stifle public criticism.  “It was nothing but a bogus SLAPP suit,” Rogers said.  “There was no meat on those bones.”

As explained in an ACLU news release, in a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), “someone with considerable means sues someone who complains about them in public in order to silence them.”

Co-counsel Rebecca Glenberg of the ACLU said “The opinions expressed on Ms. Carter’s website should not have subjected her to a multi-million dollar lawsuit.”

Rogers said that Woody’s attorney indicated at a hearing that there may not be additional facts to support an amended complaint.

By Peter Vieth

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