The story of the defamation lawsuit filed by journalists Lane Bajardi and his wife Kim Cardinal Bajardi against local bloggers Roman Brice and Nancy Pincus has taken yet another turn, as the former plaintiffs are now required to pay $276,000 in legal fees for the defendants.
As reported by hMAG.com in February, the Bajardis $2 million defamation lawsuit was dismissed for lack of credible evidence.
In his subsequent ruling handed down on July 8, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Arre states that the, “The Court finds Plaintiffs must reimburse Defendants for the litigation costs of suing first and thinking later.” Arre adds that the, “Plaintiffs were limited public figures who manipulated their attorney to perpetuate … a SLAPP-suit disguised as a defamation case involving weighty issues of constitutionally protected First Amendment political free speech.”
Arre also states that, “At no time did there exist any evidence of actual damages suffered on the part of Plaintiffs [sic], or actual malice on the part of the Defendants.”
As a result, the plaintiffs will now be forced to pay the legal fees for the defendants, in what has been a long and tense experience for all involved.
“For someone making their living on the First Amendment, it was astounding that Mr. Bajardi would take a dozen Hoboken residents to court for alleging harm — for their political speech,” Brice said after the decision.
Meanwhile, emails from the Bajardis have now become public record, providing rather eye-opening insight into local political tactics.
And yet predictably, the couple plans to appeal.
“This case has always been about hatred and lies. My family has been under assault now for six years by members of one of the most powerful political machines in the country,” said Kim Cardinal Bajardi. “In Hoboken, Hudson County, if a person chooses to exercise his or her constitutional rights and petition their government, they surrender their civil rights and become targets for life.”
Looks like the biggest winner in this lawsuit will be the lawyers…