Right to Criticize Developer, Woody v. Carter
Terry Ellen Carter and Tacy Newell-Foutz run a website called ThinkChristiansburg.com, which comments on a variety of local issues. Their blog has mocked and criticized an unsightly pile of dirt on a construction site of a big local developer, Roger Woody. They have called the dirt pile "Mount Woody" and posted a picture with the word "Woodyville" superimposed over the pile. Woody filed a lawsuit against Carter and Newell-Foutz (as well as two other women who have nothing to do with the website), claiming tortious interference, defamation, and business conspiracy. On May 23, 2008, we filed a demurrer on behalf of Carter, arguing that the complaint failed to state a claim, and that Carter's speech was protected by the First Amendment. Arguments on the demurrer took place on July 31. The Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge on October 14, 2008 sustained our demurrer on all counts, finding that the allegations did not state a claim for which relief could be granted. Woody appealed, and on February 13, we filed our brief in opposition to his petition for appeal. On April 9, 2009, the Virginia Supreme Court refused to hear Woody's appeal. On June 12, 2009, the court denied Woody's petition for rehearing.