Hurricane Sandy allows Time, Inc., Fortune magazine to delay response to Fast and Furious whistleblower’s libel lawsuit

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy, Time, Inc. has been granted extra time to reply to a libel lawsuit filed by Operation Fast and Furious whistleblower and ATF agent John Dodson.

Documents filed in U.S. District Court in South Carolina show that Time was granted a 30-day extension for its required response to Dodson’s lawsuit.

Dodson alleges in the complaint that Time property Fortune magazine libeled him in an article it printed about Fast and Furious this summer. (RELATED: Fast and Furious whistleblower alleges libel)

Dodson filed the suit on Oct. 12 and served it on Time on Oct. 23.

The company would normally have had 21 days to respond to the lawsuit. But a Nov. 8 letter from Dodson’s attorney to Time’s vice president and deputy general counsel for litigation, Andrew Lachow, shows that the deadly hurricane forced a delay in the news company’s official response.

Dodson’s attorney, Stephen DeAntonio, granted Time a 30-day extension to respond to the lawsuit. The response is now due by Dec. 13.

“I understand that your office was recently affected by Hurricane Sandy and believe such an extension is more than appropriate given the circumstances,” DeAntonio wrote in the Nov. 8 letter to Lachow, confirming a telephone conversation they had about the extension.

The allegedly libelous article, written by Katherine Eban – a former political operative who once worked for Democratic President Bill Clinton – claims that a “Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust.”

The article was headlined “The Truth about the Fast and Furious Scandal.”

In his libel lawsuit, Dodson said that “predicate is false and deceptive in that it leads readers to erroneously believe that it is the only accurate account of these events.”

Dodson also alleges “the article is fictitious in the sense that it contains facts that Defendant knew to be false prior to publication. Further, the contentions made in the article have been eviscerated in the public domain.”

“[T]he article generally concerns the United States Justice Department’s ‘gun walking’ operation known as ‘Fast and Furious,’ which allowed firearms to end up in the possession of Mexican drug cartels,” Dodson said in the lawsuit. “Despite the admitted and unquestioned Justice Department directive to implement this program, known to Defendant prior to publication, the Defendant nonetheless characterized the ‘public case’ of this program as being ‘….. replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies.’”

Eban and Time have not responded to requests for comment in response to Dodson’s lawsuit.

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