Public figure sues for defamation
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

McGarry v. University of San Diego (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 15, 2007)

I've got tenure. Thankfully.

As a result, at least in theory, I could take serious issue with this opinion by
Justice McDonald. So I could strenuously argue that the University of San Diego
and my present boss, Mary Lyons (the president of USD), should properly be
subjected to a lawsuit for defamation by Kevin McGarry, the former longtime
football coach for USD before he was fired in 2003. And, at least in theory, I would
suffer no adverse consequences whatsoever for my statement that my boss and
employer should be seriously punished for their misconduct.

But I ain't gonna test the waters. Because, fortunately, I think that Justice
McDonald is correct in this one. McGarry's lawsuit was properly dismissed on an
anti-SLAPP motion because while we know (from the newspaper) that someone at
USD uttered allegedly defamatory statements about McGarry, the Shield Law
precluded McGarry from discovering their identity from the newspaper. And an
anti-SLAPP motion was proper because McGarry was a limited purpose public
figure and the alleged defamation arose from protected conduct.

So USD, and President Lyons, wins. And recover their costs and attorney's fees
on appeal.

All of which, I might respectfully suggest, could easily be allocated towards merit
raises on behalf of diligently blogging legal scholars at the University of San
Diego School of Law.
- posted by Shaun Martin @ 12:49 PM  

:// as retrieved on Mar 30, 2008
Limited purpose public figure
Ex-USD football coach loses a round in court appeal

By Brent Schrotenboer

July 18, 2007

Former USD football coach Kevin McGarry lost an appeal yesterday affecting one segment of
the wrongful termination and defamation suit filed against the school nearly three years ago.

A state appellate court upheld a Superior Court ruling that had struck his defamation claims
against two USD officials. Other claims in his suit, including wrongful termination for his 2003
firing, are still in play.

McGarry had tried to force two Union-Tribune reporters to testify in an effort to prove USD
officials made false and defamatory statements about him shortly after his termination. But
the Union-Tribune refused, citing the Shield Law that protects reporters from divulging

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal ruled that even if the reporters had testified to the limited
degree McGarry sought, the testimony would not have satisfied McGarry's burden to show a
likelihood of success in proving defamation.

However, McGarry disagreed and blamed the newspaper for hurting his case.

“Gutless guys at the Union-Tribune think it's more important to protect some imaginary First
Amendment right of freedom of the press over my reputation,” he said.

McGarry said USD “had no reason (to fire him), so they made stuff up, and you guys (the
Union-Tribune) printed it.” Now he says he might go bankrupt because of it.

Last year, the court awarded USD officials $57,499 in fees and costs from McGarry after they
won their motion to strike the defamation claims. Yesterday, the Court of Appeal ruled
defendants are entitled to costs on appeal.