Shirley Sherrod seeks Breitbart's widow as substitute in defamation lawsuit
By DYLAN BYERS |
10/6/13 8:52 PM EDT
A year and a half after the death of Andrew Breitbart, Shirley Sherrod is taking legal action to have the conservative journalist's widow substitute as defendant in the Sherrod vs. Breitbart defamation lawsuit.
The motion, which Sherrod filed in Washington's U.S. District Court last month, seeks to make Susannah Breitbart responsible for providing financial recovery for "libel and slander" caused by the Breitbart-publicized videos that led to her resignation in 2010. Mrs. Breitbart objected to the motion on Saturday.
Sherrod, a former Agriculture Department employee, was forced to resign after Breitbart publicized videos from a 2010 NAACP speech in which Sherrod appeared to make racist remarks about white people. However, the videos were edited, and a subsequent review of Sherrod's full remarks showed her saying she had come to reject racial stereotyping. She was ultimately offered official apologies and a new position with USDA.
In Feb. 2011, Sherrod brought a defamation lawsuit against Breitbart, his aide Larry O'Connor, and an unnamed defendant, all of whom were believed to be involved in the publicizing of the video. In the suit, Sherrod claimed the video had damaged her reputation and prevented her from continuing her work. Breitbart and O'Connor sought to dismiss the suit under an anti-SLAPP law, but were unsuccessful.
On March 1, 2012, Breitbart died of heart failure at the age of 43. Yet Sherrod's case was allowed to continue, while both O'Connor and the unnamed 'John Doe' remained as defendants. Breitbart's name also remains as a defendant -- and will until the courts sort of Sherrod's latest motion.
The motion is "to substitute Mrs. Breitbart in place of her late husband as a defendant in this matter."
From Mrs. Breitbart's response:
7. On September 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed the Motion to substitute Mrs. Breitbart in place of her late husband as a defendant in this matter.
8. As grounds for the Motion, Plaintiff asserts that Mrs. Breitbart may be substituted as a defendant in place of Andrew Breitbart (deceased) pursuant to California law, including California Probate Code §13550.
10. Plaintiff appears to seek recovery from Mrs. Breitbart in excess of amounts allowed pursuant to controlling California law, including inter alia Code of Civil Procedure § 377.42 and California Probate Code §§ 550-555.
11. Mrs. Breitbart objects to the motion to substitute her in place of her late husband as a defendant in this matter to the extent that Plaintiff is seeking recovery as set forth in Paragraph 10 herein, and, hereby fully reserves all rights, remedies, claims and defenses to the claims alleged by Plaintiff in this action, including without limitation, her rights and defenses under California law, to prevent Plaintiff from seeking to recover punitive or other unavailable damages or relief against Mrs. Breitbart or any of her children.
WHEREFORE, Mrs. Breitbart, as a successor to Andrew Breitbart (deceased), respectfully objects to the motion to substitute her in place of her late husband as a defendant in this matter to the extent that Plaintiff is seeking to recover as set forth in Paragraph 10 herein.