Judge Issues Pretrial Rulings in Lawsuit Against Rolling Stone Magazine
A federal judge is issuing some key rulings in a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone Magazine over a now retracted article about the rape of a University of Virginia student.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A federal judge says a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone Magazine over a now retracted article about the rape of a University of Virginia student will move forward.
Judge Glen Conrad made several key rulings Thursday, September 15, including rules for the potential jury.
In November 2014, the magazine published "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. In the article, a student referred to as "Jackie" described being gang raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in September of 2012. Rolling Stone Magazine has redacted and apologized for the article.
UVA Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo is suing the magazine, its publisher, and Erdely because she claims the article cast her as the chief villain. She is seeking $7.5 million in damages.
Judge Conrad ruled Thursday that Eramo is to be considered a public figure, which means her legal team needs to prove malice on behalf of Rolling Stone and the other defendants. The judge said malice is a question left up to the jury.
Additionally, Conrad ruled that statements made in the retracted article can be taken as fact, and therefore are capable of causing damage.
As for the jury, the judge determined that 100 people will be contacted to potentially serve. Seven jurors will be seated, with no alternates. UVA employees will be not be allowed to be jurors, as attorneys for some of the defendant's argued those employees have an obvious bias.
"The judge ruled that University of Virginia employees, current employees will not be on the jury but he did not make that same ruling with respects to students at the university or former employees or former students. So I think that the jury process is going to shake out," said Libby Locke, Eramo’s attorney.
People who attended the university will be considered on a case-by-case basis during jury selection.
Eramo’s legal team will call on her medical bills during the trial, as she claims to have suffered from stress and an infection as a result of all this.
One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs said they will be filing a slew of motions Friday, September 16, dealing with the jury selection process.. The judge still has one more ruling to make in the case.
The 10-day trial is scheduled to start October 17.