Status: Mistrial declared May 21, 2007; after jury in retrial awarded $2,400 in compensatory and $500 in punitive damages on Aug. 17, 2009, the parties reached a settlement with no monetary payment
In August 2006, the Appellate Division reversed a trial court ruling dismissing former Cornwall Supervisor Jim Sollami's defamation case against Tom Sheppard, who publishes the blog Cornball-local.com. The appeals court held (21 A.D.3d 408, 799 N.Y.S.2d 427, 2005 N.Y. Slip Op. 06311 (N.Y. Sup.
Trial began May 15, 2007, but a mistrial was declared after Sollami’s attorney fell ill. Sollami was later ordered to pay Sheppard's attorney fees for the trial.
A retrial was held in August 2009. After a six-day trial, on Aug. 17 the jury awarded Sollami $2,400 in compensatory damages on two of the five defamation claims. The jury also erroneously awarded $500 in punitive damages: although the judge had barred punitives, the punitive damages question was mistakenly left on the verdict sheet.
After the verdict, the parties reached a stipulated settlement with no award to either side, and both waived their right to appeal.
Links and Court Documents:
Appellate Division decision and order: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2005/2005_06311.htm