Just a friendly reminder/warning/horror story…
Amy Wallace explains how two words in an article she penned for Wired resulted in a lawsuit.
“I have legal papers for Amy Wallace,” a brusque woman’s voice said from the other side of the door when I asked who was there. I was startled. The voice sounded unpleasant. It was dark out. It was the night before Christmas Eve. I didn’t feel like welcoming the voice in. Can you leave the papers outside, I asked? “Are you Amy Wallace?” barked the voice. “Uh,” I said, hesitating, my head muddy. Who was sending me legal papers?
“I’m going to take that as a yes!” the voice said, and not in a friendly way. “I saw you through the window. Consider yourself served!”
Wallace had written for Wired about the inflamed passions that surround vaccinations for children—on the one hand the advocates that claim they just want to save lives, on the other hand the opponents who say vaccines do more harm than good.
Wallace writes: “I have been a reporter, an editor, a staff writer, an editor-at-large. Never before have I been a defendant. I am careful. I am meticulous. Above all, I work hard to be not just factual, but fair — to put bits of information in their proper context.
“But here’s the simple truth: If someone wants to sue you, they can.”
A few months later, the suit was dismissed, “but not before thousands of hours (and countless dollars) were spent proving how fair the story was.” Wallace doesn’t say whether she had insurance, but freelancers can get liability insurance for $350-$400 a year and it’s scary stories like this that make you want to reach for your checkbook.
P.S. Some bloggers may be covered under some of these legal statutes but this isn’t legal advice and shouldn’t be construed as such.