D Magazine Gets Sued, Gives Plaintiffs the Heisman

The four men you see here have filed a lawsuit against D Magazine. They are, from left, David Kattner, Timothy Stecker, Jeffrey Nelson, and Al Schoelen.

They claim we libeled them in our June 2007 issue, with a story about a rookie cop named Shanna Lopez who stumbled into a phony ticket scheme and got fired when she started asking questions about it. You can read their filing here. You can read our motion for summary judgment here.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to wade through all the reasons why our lawyer (Hi, Don Templin!) believes we didn’t libel the men, here’s the only thing you (and the judge) need to know: plaintiffs’ lawyers — David Schiller and John Exline — filed the suit May 30, 2008. We published the story May 23, 2007. The statute of limitations on libel is one year.

This close, guys. This close.

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Comments

42 responses to “D Magazine Gets Sued, Gives Plaintiffs the Heisman”

  1. Billusa99 says:

    Too bad their lawyers didn’t take some tips from their clients about filing paper with “adjusted dates” on it!

  2. Jack says:

    is the three days the only reason?

  3. Reckless Teen says:

    Shanna should have known better. My mother told me never to trust anyone with a mustache… and boom goes the dynamite!

  4. Lightbulb says:

    The lack of timeliness doesn’t really disprove the allegations, but a win is a win.

  5. LegalWannaBe says:

    As an aspiring lawyer-to-be, I can tell you that the timeliness was probably just the first, and easiest way, to dismiss this case. It’s like anything else, when you encounter a problem – in this case a lawsuit – you explore all of the possible ways to deal with said problem. It is wise to explore the easiest, cheapest ways first. And, in this case, it appears to have worked in D Mag’s favor.

    I’m sure there were many other ways to handle this suit if the statute of limitations had not expired, but there’s no need to go down that road now. The plaintiffs just wasted a lot of time and money, and made D Mag’s job much easier in the process. Well done, Mr. Templin.

  6. Bethany says:

    It’s the easiest point to argue, and the first one to tackle. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t other arguments. Trey’s article should be protected by fair report, and even though Texas doesn’t have a neutral reportage law on the books, there is legal precedence for that, as well. A court would also have to decide if they are public figures, or private individuals – an argument could possibly be made for the former. If so, they’d have to prove malice to be able to recover damages.

  7. MP says:

    LegalWannaBe – the case hasn’t been dismissed yet. The Motion is set for hearing in September. The Plaintiffs haven’t filed their response yet. The response will likely assert that the discovery rule applies to the SOL in this case. No clue if it does or not though.

  8. Bill says:

    Funniest thing I remember about this story was a TV news story in which a homeless advocate referred to Dallas homeless as “Urban Outdoorsmen”. Since then I have used that term 100 times. Like the new homeless shelter should really be called “Center For The Advancement of the Urban Outdoorsman”. Has a nice ring to it.

  9. JS says:

    I smell another lawsuit coming — this one for malpractice. Wonder when the plaintiffs first contacted their counsel about this?

  10. Captain Obvious says:

    Urban Outdoorsmen…classic. That’s like calling habitual blog readers Hyper-Literate.

  11. henry says:

    NICE!

  12. Chris says:

    do you think they like sausage and cactus juice?

  13. DKC says:

    Why did you remove the word “technically” from your original post? As in “we technically published the story on May 23”. Did your council scold you for using that term???

  14. Captain Obvious says:

    They did that because some blog readers are technically retarded and believe misuse of jargon is something a lawyer would be smart enough to point out.

  15. Peterk says:

    Will the plaintiffs now find another lawyer and file a malpractice suit against the original attorney? Or will the original attorney be a mensch and return the plaintiffs’ retainers to them?

  16. Sesame Street says:

    I don’t know, I just look at those four pictures and hear the childhood song of, “Which one of these pictures is different from the others…. Is it that hat or the radio microphone or the glasses?” I know, damn me, you’ll all be singing that the rest of the day.

  17. Sesame Street says:

    One of These Things
    (Is Not Like The Others)
    One of these things is not like the others,
    One of these things just doesn’t belong,
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?
    Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
    Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong?
    If you guessed this one is not like the others,
    Then you’re absolutely…right!

    from Sesame Street, by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone

  18. Tim Rogers says:

    DKC, I wrote the post with the word “technically” preceding “published” to make the distinction between the issue’s month (June) and its publication date (May 23). Wick said he didn’t think the word “technically” was technically needed. So, technically, I deleted it.

  19. jrp says:

    bethany, have i ever told you that you’re my hero

  20. SLR says:

    What day did it first appear on D’s website? If prior to May 23, 2007, the discovery rule would apply to that date.

  21. Bethany says:

    Am I the wind beneath your wings?

  22. Josh Pearson says:

    SLR, We normally post the stories the same day as the publish date. Unless you get a little sum-sumthin early, which we’ve done a few times with a few stories. In this case, the story hit the Interwebs of D Mag on May 24, one day after the publish date.

  23. jrp says:

    is it the Divine Ms. M’s birthday or something? i think Rawlins hit up a Bette reference in the Lard-Ass Synder thread

  24. Captain Obvious says:

    …boom goes the dynamite…er wind beneath somebody’s wings

  25. mm says:

    Yes, Tim, but what did your “council” say?

    (Actually, “council” should probably technically be replaced with “counsel”).

  26. Rawlins Cop a Plea Bargain Basement says:

    Gosh, I’d hate to believe that any Dallas police officers would ever be bad apple opportunists involved in a fake ticket scandal. And gee, I can’t imagine how that would feel to be their victim!
    Wait! I forgot 2004!
    They did that to me!
    Silly me….only cost 2 1/2 years of my life and most of my hair….but hey…nothing personal, right guys? Bygones being bygones…must’ve slipped my mind……..

    (Carting Trey down Lamar past Jack Evans on a sedan chair covered with decoupage bogus warrants and/or instruction books. First edition printed in Bolton’s time called: How to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome writing non-stop bogus tickets in the name of quotas/advancement and/or private agendas. See chapter called ‘testosterone rules’ for insight into mindset.)

  27. publicnewssense says:

    Did you libel them?

  28. dude where's my blog post says:

    TMI!

  29. Not to be stickler, but the statute of limitations clock started ticking when the time of the ‘injury occurred’ not the date of publication. Assuming the magazine was on the shelves for more than a month someone may have purchased it and read it after less than a year ago meaning the ‘injury’ occurred less than a year ago. Anyway, they are screwed, but not necessarily on the statute of limitations issue.

    Also, not to beat a dead horse, but the statue in civil cases can be ‘tolled’, i.e. a time out for stuff like hospitalization, military service and other stuff.

  30. John says:

    Tim,

    Give credit where credit is due — Jason Bloom wrote the MSJ, whereas Don just read over and signed it.

  31. dude where's my blog post says:

    Lawyers have way too much free time.

  32. Alex:

    Apologies to put this so bluntly, but you are wrong about the “injury” date being the date that the statute of limitations starts to run. Otherwise, there would be no effective statute of limitations on libel for so long as the physical document remained in existence, because the claim could be revived any time someone new picked up the document and read it for the first time. The statute of limitations starts running when the injured party discovers, or is legally presumed to have discovered, the injury. With a magazine such as D, the legally presumed discovery would occur upon publication.

  33. MIssing Dots says:

    I injured myself “reading” nudie magazines, and now my statue has limitations.

  34. dude where's my blog post says:

    Go blue or go home

  35. Johnny Cochran says:

    This MSJ will lose.

    Its also fraught with errors. Don’t these idiots proofread this $hit before they file it?

    I guess thats what you get with a second rate legal defense team.

  36. IttyBittyWussy says:

    David Schiller?

    http://www.dallasobserver.com/2000-02-17/news/bad-planning/

    Oh right, that guy.

  37. Trey Garrison says:

    The nice thing is should this first defense fail, truth is the great antibiotic against libel suits.

  38. amanda says:

    These guys are dirty cops, and it’s not just Lopez who says so. The D story pales in comparison to what is on the underground police blogs.

  39. Shanna Lopez says:

    …and if all else fails, there is always the polygraph examination I was required to subject myself to as part of the City of Dallas and DPD’s “Reapplication Agreement.” I PASSED the exam…but FAILED to get my job back. More recently, DPD FAILED…to keep my polygraph exam private.

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/openrecords/50abbott/orl/2008/pdf/OR200807178.pdf

  40. Lawrence says:

    Hey, Beavis. Taunting cops is cool. Huh huh.

  41. More Kunkle Bell says:

    Oh. Now I get it. Fake Marty is really one of those top lawyers who pay….er, are selected by D Magazine.

  42. Jack Jett says:

    I wonder what Public Relations firm would represent these men who even on their best days are a**holes. I’d sooner represent Michael Vick.