Obama-Appointed Federal Judge Rules Libel Lawsuit Against Former NYT Reporter Taylor Lorenz Can Proceed

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A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a libel lawsuit against former New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz can proceed.

Ariadna Jacob and her company, Influences, Inc., sued Lorenz and the NYT in 2021 over an article suggesting Jacob had “leaked an individual’s nude photograph,” according to court documents. U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York Edgardo Ramos, an Obama appointee, allowed the lawsuit to proceed Tuesday, finding Lorenz’ argument that there is distinction between the word “leaked” as used in the article and the phrase “publically leaked” unpersuasive. (RELATED: Taylor Lorenz, Who Worked To Get People Suspended From Twitter, Gripes About Reporters Getting Suspended From Twitter)

The judge already dismissed a number of the plaintiff’s defamation allegations in June, allowing this one to proceed. Lorenz motioned for it to be reconsidered.

"This Is Not Financial Advice" Premiere - 2023 Tribeca Festival

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 10: Taylor Lorenz attends the “This Is Not Financial Advice” premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival at SVA Theatre on June 10, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)

In his decision, Ramos highlighted Lorenz’s communications with Jacob prior to the article’s publication, where she described allegations that Jacob had “privately” distributed the photos but assured her that “no one is alleging that she publically leaked them.” The article published Aug. 14, 2020, contained a quote stating that Jacob “leaked my nudes and sent them to business partners, people in my house, and potential investors to slander my name, saying I was unprofessional.”

“Lorenz’s messages did not even use the term ‘leak’ without the ‘publicly’ qualifier,” Ramos wrote. “It is difficult to see how the emails could show Lorenz’s understanding of a distinction between two terms when she used only one of them.”

Ramos wrote that the case “might look different” if the article had just omitted the language.

“If the language before ‘and’ had been omitted, this case might look different: Defendants could argue that the alleged distributions to business partners and others were consistent with the allegations Lorenz described in her prepublication emails,” he wrote. “Instead,  however, the article suggested that Jacob both leaked the photos and privately distributed them to others.”

The lawyer representing Lorenz and NYT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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