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Authors

Emma Altheide

Abstract

Filing suit for defamation or libel is signing up for an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. If it proceeds to trial, this type of litigation comes with high costs for both sides: potentially millions of dollars in legal fees, and years of court battles. Average judgments against defendant publishers are high, often because uncapped punitive damages are available. Plaintiffs may wait years to receive a judgment, only to spend a significant portion on attorneys’ fees. Given the inefficiency of the courts in handling defamation and libel claims, how might an alternative forum provide for a quicker process, with lower costs for both sides? How would such a forum affect the interests of the parties? Would the characteristics of arbitration alleviate some of the tensions between litigation and the law that allows people to protect their reputation? This Comment addresses the implications of resolving defamation and libel claims against the press through arbitration, and argues that it is critical for the press to consider utilizing arbitration for these claims, as more publishers face financial pressures and litigation poses a more serious threat than ever before. If the role of the press is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” a viable forum for resolving disputes is critical to its continued existence and success.

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