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Associated Press Sued in Minnesota Over Krawczynski Twitter Tweet

Posted in First Amendment, Law Suits

Just the other day, I read a news report commenting on how relatively few lawsuits have resulted from the explosion in the use and popularity of Twitter, especially given all the potentially actionable statements made using that social media platform.

Well, here’s one of interest, hot off the press so to speak, not only for those in Minnesota, but anywhere, especially for those who follow the NBA or perhaps their favorite NBA team, and take part in armchair officiating from time to time: William H. Spooner v. The Associated Press, Inc. and John Krawczynski (filed in Minnesota federal district court yesterday on March 14, 2011).

The law suit alleges that the AP and AP writer John Krawczynski defamed 22-year veteran NBA Referee William Spooner for publishing this statement on the AP Twitter feed:

"Ref Bill Spooner told [Timberwolves Coach] Rambis he’d ‘get it back’ after a bad call. Then he made an even worse call on Rockets. That’s NBA officiating folks."

According to the complaint, this statement implied that Spooner was "engaged in fixing the game." It further alleges: "At no time did Plaintiff Spooner make any statement about ‘getting points back’ to Coach Rambis or anyone." According to Spooner’s complaint, he told Coach Rambis he’d review the call at halftime and get back to him about it, and in response, Coach Rambis said: "That’s fine, but how do I get those points back?" Spooner alleges he didn’t respond to that question.

So, not your classic "he said, she said" — more like "he did say, he didn’t say."

This will be an interesting one to follow, stay tuned.

h/t to Katharine Grayson over at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for the report