Rolling Stone wants verdict in UVa Defamation Case thrown out

RICHMOND, Va. — Rolling Stone Magazine asked a Federal judge on Monday to throw out a jury verdict that the magazine and a reporter defamed a University of Virginia administrator for its discredited account of a gang rape at a fraternity house, according to the Associated Press.

Last month, the jury awarded former dean Nicole Eramo a total of $3 million from the magazine, its publisher and reporter Sabrina Erdely.

Eramo argued that the November 2014 story, “A Rape on Campus,” portrayed her as callous and indifferent to the plight of the alleged sexual assault victim, who was identified only as Jackie.

After it was published, questions were raised about its veracity. Following an investigation, Rolling Stone admitted that the rape never took place.

The jury said Erdely must pay $2 million and Rolling Stone $1 million. However, Rolling Stone must cover the cost of Erdely’s damages, as well as her legal fees.

Erdely, the reporter, was found liable for defamation for parts of the original story and interviews she gave about the piece afterward.

The magazine and publisher, Wenner Media, were found liable for republishing the story several weeks later with an editor’s note. The note acknowledged doubts about Jackie’s account but did not change or remove any part of the original story.

According to the Associated Press, court documents show attorneys for Rolling Stone filed a motion Monday that said the judge should overrule the jury’s verdict because there is no evidence that Erdely acted with actual malice.

They’re also challenging the jury’s finding that the magazine’s December 2014 online version of the article, with an editor’s note acknowledging discrepancies with the story, counted as “republishing” the false statements.

The magazine said that punishing them for trying to warn the public with the editor’s note could prompt other outlets to stay silent when there are errors in the future.

In a statement to CBS 6 Monday, Eramo’s attorney Libby Locke said the magazine “still doesn’t get it.”

“Rolling Stone baldly told the jury that they heard and respected the verdict in this case. But that was obviously a lie. The very first thing that Rolling Stone filed after saying those words is a request to set the verdict aside. This is more evidence that Rolling Stone still doesn’t get it.”

Rolling Stone faces another lawsuit brought by Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity where Jackie claimed her assault took place, for $25 million. That trial is scheduled to begin next year. A separate suit brought by individual members of the fraternity was dismissed.