Coal Magnate’s Lawsuit Against John Oliver and HBO Is Dismissed



After seven months, a West Virginia judge has granted HBO’s motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against the network and “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver by a coal industry magnate.
“I find the arguments set forth in the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss to dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and Reply to be well-founded, appropriate in this matter and will grant the same,” Judge Jeffrey Cramer said in a decision dated Feb. 21.
The suit, filed by Murray Energy CEO Robert E. Murray in June, accused Oliver of defamation for a June 18, 2017 episode of “Last Week Tonight” that featured a scathing critique of Murray’s safety record, including a detailed look at a fatal coal mine collapse, as well as his business practices and political activity. The episode notably featured an actor dressed as a talking squirrel named “Mr. Nutterbutter,” who held up a giant sized check which read “Eat S— Bob.”
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Murray contended in his suit that the episode caused fans to flood his mail, telephone and social media with messages calling him a “f—ing scumbag,” “rich greedy asshole,” and “responsible for coal miner’s [sic] deaths!” and that Oliver committed libel against him.
But in its motion to dismiss, HBO defended Oliver on First Amendment grounds, arguing that the episode was not defamation because it was based on a government report that debunked Murray’s claim that a deadly coal mine collapse was caused by an earthquake. HBO also argued that other material — such as saying “eat s—, bob” — were opinions and jokes, not factual assertions.
“Plaintiffs,” HBO’s motion said, “do not come close to satisfying the legal requirements
for these speech-based tort claims. In fact, their complaint disregards long-settled First
Amendment and common law protections for the two types of speech challenged here: accurate
reporting on government activity, and commentary and satire on matters of public concern.”
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Further, HBO said, Murray’s accusations of defamation were essentially a matter of “hurt feelings about jokes,” adding that though “Murray found this speech embarrassing or disagreeable,” the jokes are still protected speech.
The legal website Lawful Masses first reported that the case was dismissed.
Attorneys for HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap. Attorneys for Murray also did not immediately respond.

“Pirates of the Caribbean” star Johnny Depp, who earlier this month sued his former managers in a $25 million fraud claim, heard back from them Tuesday via a counterclaim that  makes shocking claims about the actor’s alleged spending habits. Read on for the six biggest jaw-droppers about Depp’s alleged “ultra-extravagant lifestyle.”
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According to the counterclaim, Depp spent $75 million on residences throughout the world, including “a 45-acre chateau in the South of France, a chain of islands in the Bahamas … and a fully functioning horse farm in Kentucky.”
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Depp’s former managers also contend that Depp spent more than $18 million to buy and maintain a 150-foot luxury yacht.
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The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star is also alleged to have dropped $30,000 a month on wines that he’d have flown in from around the world “for his personal consumption.”
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Following the 2005 death of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” author Hunter S. Thompson, Depp is alleged to have spent more than $3 million to blast Thompson’s ashes from “a specially made cannon” over Aspen, Colorado.

Depp “spent wildly on expensive collectibles,” according to the countersuit, including works by Andy Warhol, Gustav Klimt and others, as well as dozens of collectible guitars. The actor’s collection of Hollywood memorabilia alone, the countersuit claims, fills “approximately 12 storage facilities and has cost over a million additional dollars to attempt to archive.”

But at least Depp’s a good pal to have. According to the counterclaim, the actor has spent more than $10 million over the years supporting his “friends, family and certain employees.”
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From $30,000 a month in wine to $3 million to send Hunter S. Thompson off with a bang, see how Depp’s former managers claim he splurged

“Pirates of the Caribbean” star Johnny Depp, who earlier this month sued his former managers in a $25 million fraud claim, heard back from them Tuesday via a counterclaim that  makes shocking claims about the actor’s alleged spending habits. Read on for the six biggest jaw-droppers about Depp’s alleged “ultra-extravagant lifestyle.”

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