Federal court dismisses suit against Ind. TV station

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a suit filed against an Indianapolis TV station for its report on a Canadian pharmacy-benefits company.

CanaRx charged that it was defamed by the report on WISH-TV that was broadcast in November 2007.

U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney ruled late last month that the television station was protected by Indiana’s anti-SLAPP law, which bars “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”

“The statements of the WISH-TV Defendants are exactly the type of commentary the [anti-SLAPP law] means to protect,” McKinney wrote in his ruling. “Given the evidence on the record, a reasonable jury could only find that the statements that formed the basis of CanaRx’s claim were made pursuant to the WISH-TV Defendants’ right of free speech in furtherance of public issue, that the statements were made in good faith and that they were lawful.”

The judge also found that the station did not act with “actual malice,” which is required for a defendant to be found guilty of defamation.

WISH-TV reported on criticism of CanaRx by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It quoted the FDA as saying that 80% of prescriptions ordered from the Internet were counterfeit.

According to the May 29 court ruling, the FDA has been investigating CanaRx since 2003.

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