An Oakland County circuit judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Deadline Detroit filed by a parent who alleged he was defamed by Deadline Detroit in a story about a Birmingham school board meeting on mandatory Covid masks.
Judge Jeffrey S. Matis ruled that Deadline Detroit accurately wrote that parent Paul Marcum gave a Nazi salute and shouted “Heil Hitler” during the August 17 meeting, and was later fired as a tennis coach at West Bloomfield.
“The Deadline Detroit article reflects the public record,” the judge wrote in a five-page decision, adding, “The Court, having considered the complaint in this matter, finds that the plaintiff has not accurately alleged any misrepresentation published by Deadline Detroit.”
The judge, however, denied a request by the publication that Marcum and his attorney Jan Jeffrey Rubinstein of Farmington Hills be disciplined for filing a frivolous complaint citing outdated case law.
“It was a frivolous lawsuit and a waste of resources for both the court, Deadline Detroit and the other publications that were sued,” said Allan Lengel, editor of Deadline Detroit. “It was the most basic, fundamental type of journalism; an accurate report of someone’s offensive behavior in a public meeting.”
Marcum, who opposed mandatory masks, claimed the article was not entirely accurate. He also blamed Deadline Detroit and other publications for harming his livelihood and calling him a “member of the KKK” and a “Nazi.”
A Beverly Hills police report shows Marcum, in a statement to investigators, said he apologized for his actions that night and did not mean to offend anyone at the meeting, including friends jews. He also explained that the meeting was full of emotion and that some of the words spoken were fascist in nature and reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
The day after the incident, school district administrators issued a statement to parents: “Last night at our regular Board of Education meeting, a member of the public gestured and gave a Nazi salute after that an individual has made a public comment.”
In addition to Deadline Detroit, Marcum sued Metro Times, Newsweek, Kos Media and Newser. To date, the judge has dismissed the lawsuits against Metro Times and two other publications. It has not yet ruled on the fifth case.
Herschel Fink, the attorney for Deadline Detroit, wrote in a court filing in May:
“Marcum and his attorney have created yet ‘another splendid case of chutzpah’ by demanding damages from Deadline for its privileged reporting of his outrageous actions, while flagrantly misrepresenting Michigan law in this Court and forcing Deadline to defend themselves against this frivolous affair.”
On Tuesday evening, Fink released a statement:
“Deadline Detroit, in addition to asking the Oakland County Circuit Court to dismiss the defamation suit, sought penalties, including attorney’s fees, for having to defend a frivolous lawsuit. Deadline in its motion pointed out that Marcum and his attorney were relying on a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that was overturned 30 years ago, and an outdated version of libel privilege law that was replaced and expanded 33 years ago. years. The court found the Deadline Detroit story to be true, accurate, and privileged. It’s a baseless lawsuit that should never have been filed, but the court declined to impose penalties.
Marcum’s attorney, Rubinstein, released a statement following the ruling:
“Obviously I’m disappointed with the court’s decision. While I have nothing against Deadline Detroit, I feel for Mr. Marcum because he was vilified for these actions and had no intention of delivering the message that was interpreted. My client is neither an anti-Semite nor a racist. He believed that the mandates discussed at this school board meeting were an attack on his personal freedoms and those of his family.
“Unfortunately, portrayals of his actions in the media and on social media have resulted in millions of people alleging or believing him to be racist or anti-Semitic.”