Freedom of Speech, Sidney Smith d/b/a Haunted History Tours, Inc. v. Donald Geddes and the VCPORA, Inc.,
Mr. Le Clercq defended the Vieux Carre Property Owners and Residents Association (VCPORA) in a freedom of speech lawsuit in which the plaintiff was asking in excess of two million dollars. The case revolved around an e-mail message in which a representative of VCPORA urged the organization’s members to attend a City Council meeting and support a proposed ordinance. In the email, the representative referred to the plaintiff as a “thug,” leading the plaintiff to sue for defamation. The court determined that the e-mail wasn’t legally defamatory because the word “thug” doesn’t connote criminal conduct when used on its own. To be defamatory, the court said, the e-mail would have had to suggest that a crime was committed. Mr. Le Clercq was quoted in The Times-Picayune as stating, “Our courts have long recognized that vigorous debate on controversial issues of public concern is essential. This decision affirms that bedrock principle and supports VCPORA’s commitment to advocacy.” The Louisiana Appellate Court dismissed the lawsuit.
Sidney Smith d/b/a Haunted History Tours, Inc. v. Donald Geddes and the VCPORA, Inc., La. Court of Appeals No. 09-0833 (2009)