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Posted on Jan 15, 2002 Print this Article

CMR ATTORNEYS FILE FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

CMR attorneys are pleased to announce that a Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on October 24, 2001, with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in order to end the harassment lawsuit filed against CMR in April of 1996. Speaking at the 6th Annual CMR Celebration in Washington D.C. on October 18, CMR attorney Frank Northam of Webster, Chamberlain & Bean gave a concise overview of the baseless litigation, and expressed total confidence that attorney Susan Barnes and her client, former F-14 pilot Carey Lohrenz, would be unable to continue their case following this Motion. The oversized filing was supported by voluminous documents, testimony, and affidavits that completely refute bogus charges that were brought in a failed attempt to silence CMR. Lead attorney Kent Masterson Brown has petitioned the Court for Summary Judgment because Plaintiff Lohrenz and attorney Barnes do not have the facts necessary to support their case. Contrary to Plaintiff Lohrenz’ charges, which were largely based on absurd "conspiracy" theories, her career as an F-14 pilot did not end because Elaine Donnelly published the CMR Special Report: Double Standards in Naval Aviation in April of 1995. The comprehensive report documented evidence of extraordinary concessions in training that were extended to Lohrenz and her late colleague, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, so that they could graduate to the fleet. This occurred during the tumultuous post-Tailhook scandal period, when embarrassed Navy officials were eager to "make amends" by rushing women into combat aviation. Lt. Hultgreen was killed during a failed landing on the carrier Abraham Lincoln on October 25, 1994. Long before CMR published anything, Plaintiff Lohrenz earned low scores and numerous "pink sheets" for major errors that historically would have ended the carrier aviation careers of male trainees. A Field Naval Aviation Evaluation Board (FNAEB) removed Lohrenz from carrier aviation in May 1995, due to a pattern of performance that was described by her superiors as "unsafe, undisciplined, and unpredictable." (For more details, see CMR Notes, July 1997) Information in the CMR Special Report, which addressed the important issue of safety in naval aviation, was true and published without malice. In essence, the case of Lohrenz v. Donnelly & CMR is a SLAPP suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation), which has misused the federal court in a deliberate attempt to chill the First Amendment rights of Elaine Donnelly, and to destroy CMR by draining its resources. The charge of defamation and libel cannot be sustained because Plaintiff Lohrenz was and is a public figure in an ongoing debate of major public concern; i.e., the importance of high, uncompromised standards in tactical aviation training. In addition, the report published by CMR was true. Unequivocally, Lohrenz could never prove that anything published about her by CMR was false, much less published with malice. CMR attorneys agreed last fall to a generous extension of time, until December 31, 2001, for Barnes to file her response with U.S. District Judge, Royce C. Lamberth. As of mid-January, however, no response to the Motion for Summary Judgment has been filed by the Plaintiff with the Court. Instead, attorney Barnes filed a late Motion in December, requesting thirty days of extended time so that she can interview, depose, or obtain statements from more active duty and retired naval officers. In a brief opposing that request, filed on December 21, 2001, CMR attorneys wrote: "During this five (5) year period, Plaintiff had ample opportunity to take depositions and otherwise obtain discovery, both formal and informal, in support of her spurious claim. Rather than do so, the Plaintiff has simply utilized this litigation to harass Elaine Donnelly and CMR based purely upon a political agenda....[Her Motion] illustrates that she does not have enough in the discovery record developed over the past five (5) years--including all that is found in her own deposition--to overcome the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment....The mere fact that Plaintiff is now madly scrambling for potential declarants or affiants to avoid summary judgment underscores the fact that the...Plaintiff cannot, as a matter of law, establish actual malice with clear and convincing evidence as is required in this public-figure defamation case." Acceptance of the Motion for Summary Judgment would end the case, but an appeal by the plaintiffs could drive up legal costs--currently approaching $400,000--to even higher levels. Updates on the course of this litigation will be posted as events unfold. CL011502A The Center for Military Readiness is being represented by noted constitutional lawyer Kent Masterson Brown, Frank Northam, and Christopher Shaughnessy of the firm Webster, Chamberlain & Bean in Washington D.C. Tax-deductible contributions to the CMR Legal Defense Fund may be addressed to CMR/LDF, P. O. Box 51600, Livonia, Michigan 48151. For more information, please see additional Summaries and Legal Defense Updates in the Issues section of this website.
Posted on Jan 15, 2002 Print this Article