Federal Judge Declares Golf.Com Victorious Over Vlad The Impaler

May 12, 2017

By Rob Harris
Earlier this year, a federal court issued a decision which sets the stage as follows:
“This case arises from the use of hyperbole in an article about a golf course. On May 29, 2014, defendant Time Inc. published an article on its GOLF.com website that criticized the former General Manager of the Hillcrest Country Club in Kansas City, Missouri, by referring to him as Vlad the Impaler. Although the article does not mention him by name, plaintiff Terry J. Clark served as Hillcrest’s General Manager. And, the parties stipulate that the article’s references to Vlad the Impaler are references to Mr. Clark.”
Vlad, I mean Mr. Clark, was exceedingly unhappy with his portrayal in the article, authored by noted sportswriter John Garrity. As the court explains, Mr. Garrity chose to use a pseudonym to describe Mr. Clark Mr. Garrity “because he believed it ‘aptly described in a rhetorical sense’ plaintiff’s management style “which resulted in him ‘killing off’ the membership.’”
As the court further explained, “Vlad the Impaler was a nickname of Vlad III Dracula, a 15th century Romanian leader…, [who] was notorious for impaling his enemies with sharp sticks, placing the sticks into the ground, and leaving his victims there to die. Vlad’s affinity for this particular brand of torture earned him his cognomen.”
The court went on to describe details of the article’s portrayal of the club manager, many of which we captured in our initial post when the lawsuit was filed, and which some may file entertaining, such as decreeing the removal of Heinz ketchup from the club, in protest of John Kerry who is married to the Heinz heiress.
Alas for Vlad, the court determined his claims were without legal merit, and rendered summary judgment in favor of Time. The court rejected claims of defamation, finding there was no credible factual claim that Mr. Clark had been injured by the article, or that it was false and defamatory. Nor did the court find that there was evidence to support a claim against the defendants for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Mr. Clark’s original complaint, which includes a copy of the offending article, can be found at http://media.bizj.us/view/img/6390862/clark-v-time-warner. time warner.pdf.


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