Despite the threat of a $1M lawsuit, the Michigan Daily is sticking to its guns.
Last week, Michigan's independent student newspaper posted a story that alleges the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League offered a large sum of money for the services of Jacob Trouba, the No. 9 pick in the NHL Draft, to shake his NCAA commitment.
Kitchener, as you can imagine, struck back. They hired lawyer Ryder Gilliland and will pursue a lawsuit against the newspaper seeking $500,000 in general damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.
If they were trying to intimidate the student newspaper, they failed. The paper came out with a statement Thursday night coming to the defence of their article and student reporter Matt Slovin, who used several anonymous sources in his report.
The full text:
On June 28 The Michigan Daily published an article on its website that said hockey player Jacob Trouba was considering an offer to play for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. The article was updated to include further developments on July 2, July 3 and July 4. The Rangers and the Trouba family have denied the offer, and the Rangers have threatened legal action. The Daily stands behind the story and the reporter, Matt Slovin. The Daily will respond to threats of legal action in an appropriate fashion.
Our friend Chris Peters at the United States of hockey made two excellent points about this today. The Daily sticking by their story puts the pressure on the Rangers, who are looking to pursue damages in Canada, to rescind the suit. Peters linked to an article by the Student Press Law Center, the SPLC, who wrote:
Adam Goldstein, Student Press Law Center attorney advocate, believes the suit does not stand much of a chance of succeeding, given that the defendants are all United States citizens and likely do not have any assets in Canada.
He said that Canadian courts have in recent years increasingly dismissed attempts at "libel tourism" — the practice of pursuing a defamation case in a country like England or Canada, rather than the U.S. [SPLC]
Canada has stingier libel laws than the United States. Again, from Peters:
The Rangers may be backed into a corner now into where they have to stand by their word and pursue this case despite the fact that it is unlikely they will be able to collect damages. This is due to the SPEECH Act protecting U.S. media outlets from foreign libel/defamation judgments so long as the report satisfies First Amendment standards. Should the Daily lose the case, most likely the worst that will happen is the defendants would be denied entry into Canada due to the outstanding judgment. [United States of Hockey]
This isn't over, but it's up to the Rangers to make the next move, with the Daily calling the OHL club's raise.
Meanwhile, at the middle of this is a young defensive prospect who probably has little to do with the whole situation. Trouba is at Winnipeg Jets prospect camp this week, and some footage has come out from the event: