Sollami v. Sheppard, No. 007550/2003 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Orange County filed Oct. 6, 2004).
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 The appeals court held (21 A.D.3d 408, 799 N.Y.S.2d 427, 2005 N.Y. Slip Op. 06311 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., App. Div. Aug. 8, 2005)) that eight of the statements at issue in the case -- including statements alleging that Sollami had a "hit list" of town employees that he planned to fire -- were capable of defamatory meaning and should proceed to trial.

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:

No comments: