Judge dismisses John Oliver defamation suit

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 26, 2018

MOUNDSVILLE – A Marshall Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against John Oliver alleging defamation of character for an episode of Oliver’s show on HBO from last June.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Cramer accepted HBO’s argument that Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy Corp., failed to show that Oliver had defamed him based on the law, according to the dismissal filed Feb. 21.

"This decision contains absolutely no legal reasoning, whatsoever, and instead blindly adopts the defendants deeply flawed arguments,” said a statement released by Murray Energy. “This is a flagrant disregard of the law, the facts, and the substantial damages intentionally inflicted by the defendants.”

The statement went on to say that the decision was detrimental to employees of Murray Energy, who rely on Murray and his company for their continued livelihoods, as well as lenders, customers and suppliers who depend on Murray’s integrity and performance.

Murray Energy sued HBO and Oliver after the June 18 episode allegedly defamed Murray.

“On June 18, 2017, defendants executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies, including Murray Energy Corporation and those in West Virginia on a world stage,” the complaint states.

Before the episode, Murray and his companies sent a cease and desist letter that the defendants “cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass or otherwise injury Mr. Murray or Murray Energy.”

In the June 18 broadcast, the defendants deliberately omitted the facts that the plaintiffs provided regarding the mine incident and made no mention of the efforts Murray personally made to save the trapped miners of Crandall Canyon Mine.

The defendants also failed to mention, despite having the information, that Murray has pioneered Emergency Response and Fire Suppression Training in the coal industry. Nor did Oliver mention the facts in his possession that Murray has fought for retiree medical and pension benefits for coal miners that never even worked for his company, according to the suit.

Marshall Circuit Court case number: 17-C-124

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