Two Libel Suits by Gary Null Fail

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Two libel suits filed by Gary Null and Associates have failed to achieve their purposes and have been dismissed. One was a $100,000,000 suit against Wikipedia. The other was a $10,000,000 suit filed against Lee Phillips. of Washington, D.C.

The original Wikipedia complaint, filed in September 2009, alleged that the site's editors were campaigning to disparage and malign Null by permitting the posting of false and defamatory information about Null’s credentials and/or qualifications in a Wikipedia article [1]. Null was apparently concerned about brief critical statements with hyperlinks to Quackwatch and two other sites from which the information was extracted. Null’s main concern appears to have been an article on the Quackwatch Web site that, according to Wikipedia, had criticized “the validity of Null’s Ph.D. thesis, his alternative health claims, and several of his commercial products.”

Wikipedia notified Null’s attorneys that it is not liable for what is posted on its pages because, under the Internet Decency Act, publishers who operate interactive Web sites are not liable for the information posted by users of their sites. Null filed an amended complaint which alleged that the link to the Quackwatch article should have been removed because it was “not properly sourced.” [2] Wikipedia’s attorneys disagreed and filed a motion to dismiss the suit and award costs and attorney fees [3]. But in November 2009, before the court could rule, the parties signed an agreement under which the suit would be dismissed and Null would pay $475 to cover Wikipedia’s costs [4].

The Phillips suit [5] objected to the fact that in 2008, Phillips had posted an "open letter" [6] on his Web site that referred to Null’s Ph.D. degree as “bogus.” [7] In June 2010, A New York State Supreme Court judge dismissed the suit on jurisdictional grounds [7].

Neither of the suits resulted in removal of the criticisms to which Null objected.

Quackwatch has a detailed analysis of Null's activities and credentials [8].

References

  1. Complaint. Gary Null & Associates Inc. against Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Supreme Court of the State of New York Index #09112745. Filed Sept 8, 2009.
  2. Amended complaint. Null v Wikimedia Foundation, filed Nov 24, 2009.
  3. Memorandum of law in support of defendant Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.'s motion to dismiss and for sanctions and attorney fees. Null v. Wikimedia Foundation. Prepared Nov 10, 2009, filed Dec 30, 2009.
  4. Joint stipulation of dismissal with prejudice. Null v. Wikimedia Foundation. Signed Nov 25, 2009, filed Dec 22, 2009.
  5. Complaint. Gary Null and Associates against Lee Phillips. Supreme Court of the State of New York Index #110508/09
  6. Phillips L. Open letter to WPFW: Gary Null's hazardous broadcast. lee-phillips.org, April 18, 2008.
  7. Madden JA. Decision. Gary Null and Associates against Lee Phillips. Filed July 2, 2010.
  8. Barrett S. A critical look at Gary Null's activities and credentials. Quackwatch, May 12, 2010.

This article was posted on February 14, 2011.

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