The California Supreme Court has granted cartoonist Ted Rall’s petition for review of his lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times.
Rall, who was fired by the newspaper in 2015, has been fighting the paper in court since, filing a lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal and defamation, which he lost, the verdict upheld by two appellate courts.
“Against long odds, the California Supreme Court has granted my Petition for Review,” Rall posted on his Facebook page. “We are asking the high court to vacate the LA Times’ abusive anti-SLAPP motion against me as granted by the two lower courts.” SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. These types of lawsuits are filed by corporations, developers and government officials against individuals or community organizations that oppose their actions, according to the Digital Media Law Project.
On Tuesday, Rall’s attorney Roger Lowenstein confirmed the state high court will review the case.
The syndicated artist drew the “Left Coast” cartoon for the Pasadena Weekly from 2009 to 2015, prior to going to work for the Times. He claims he was defamed by the daily newspaper after being fired in July 2015 for allegedly fabricating a situation in which he claims he was roughed up and handcuffed by a Los Angeles police officer. In a May 2015 blog post for the Times, Rall depicted a scene in which a West Side LAPD officer accosted him for jaywalking across Melrose Avenue on Oct. 3, 2001.
Police provided the newspaper with a digital recording made by the officer during the encounter. But all that could be heard on that recording was banter between Rall and the officer. Based on that, authorities and officials with the Times determined the incident was a routine traffic citation that did not go down the way Rall described.
“One day after Rall’s firing, the Los Angele Police Protective League published a press release titled ‘The LAPPL applauds LA Times firing of cartoonist Ted Rall,’” according to Rall’s lawsuit.
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Cartoonists Rights Network International, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Index on Censorship, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Writers Union and Project Censored issued briefs against the newspaper and its owners.
— André Coleman