Brown v. Caughey – Closed

The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) is defending Ericah Caughey against a defamation lawsuit filed in May 2013 by former Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown.  The suit alleges that Caughey, Brown’s former legislative assistant, made defamatory statements about her relating to her abrupt firing of Caughey in 2009 while Caughey was pregnant.

Brown gained national notoriety in 2012 when she made provocative statements – including a vulgar reference to her female anatomy – in support of her staunch pro-abortion political position during a debate on legislation that would have placed restrictions on abortion in Michigan.  The Michigan House of Representatives subsequently censured Brown for making the vulgar comments.  However, as expected, Brown garnered acclaim and adoration from liberals nationwide for her outspoken support of abortion.

After being gerrymandered out of her House district seat last year, Brown successfully ran for Oakland County Clerk, beating out the Republican incumbent.  During the course of this contentious political campaign, Caughey agreed to be interviewed on camera to discuss the way Brown treated her when she worked as a legislative assistant.  In the published campaign videos, Caughey, a young mother who was pregnant at the time of the incident, claimed that “after making crude comments about chasing me with a coat hanger, [Brown] fired me without explanation.”  According to Caughey, Brown was angered over a pro-life demonstration that was taking place outside, and her comments were in reference to using Caughey to make a “pro-choice” point to the demonstrators.

Consequently, on May 8, 2013, Brown filed a defamation lawsuit against Caughey, claiming that her comments were defamatory and that they harmed her “excellent reputation” as a “staunch advocate” for women’s rights.

On July 8, 2013, AFLC filed a motion for summary disposition in the Ingham County Circuit Court, seeking to dismiss the defamation lawsuit.  AFLC’s brief in support of the motion for summary disposition argues that Brown’s defamation claims are not actionable as a matter of law because Brown is a public official and therefore Caughey’s speech is protected under the First Amendment.

CASE UPDATE (August 6, 2013): AFLC filed its reply brief in support of its motion for summary disposition, arguing that Lisa Brown’s defamation suit is frivolous and should therefore be dismissed. 

CASE UPDATE (September 16, 2013): Lisa Brown dismissed her defamation lawsuit against Ericah Caughey.