September 21, 2020

Boies Schiller takes on Forbes over Mexican Corruption List

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keyboard_red_lightBy David Bario, From The Litigation Daily

It’s been an awfully busy year for the folks at Boies, Schiller & Flexner—what with the big Apple trial in California, the Barclays/Lehman brawl, Hank Greenberg’s showdown with the feds, the Trinity guardrail case, the NCAA litigation, Halliburton, AriZona iced tea, and plenty more besides.

Most of those battles will continue into 2015. But Boies Schiller is also hanging up a new punching bag ahead of the new year: the news media.

You’ve heard about David Boies sending threatening letters over the weekend to major media organizations that published hacked Sony emails. (Our own Nathalie Pierrepont has that story here at: http://www.americanlawyer.com/top-stories/id=1202679151476?slreturn=20141118130220 or https://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/boies-schiller-confronts-media-on-sony-data-breach/.) On Tuesday, partner Jonathan Sherman picked another fight with a respected news outlet, accusing Forbes Media LLC of publishing “a hit piece of the worst sort” about the ex-communications chief for former Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

The plaintiff, Alejandra Sota, is much better known in Mexico than in the U.S., though her inclusion in Forbes’ list of the “10 Most Corrupt Mexicans of 2013” certainly raised her profile. The top 10 list is the focus of Tuesday’s complaint—Sota alleges that it was not only objectively false, but that it tainted her pursuit of a Harvard University graduate degree and undermined her fledgling media consulting business.

“Without any justification, [the article’s author] and Forbes presented Ms. Sota as one of the most corrupt individuals on a global scale,” the suit claims. “This was a cynical act of revenge, punishing Ms. Sota for her courage and for having expressed her opinions while in public office.” The complaint, filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan, is here.

The lawsuit also spells out a more specific alleged motive for Sota’s inclusion in the 2013 article. The list’s author, defendant Dolia Estevez, is a U.S. citizen and a correspondent for the Mexican radio service Noticias MVS. Sota claims that Estevez included her in Forbes’ corruption list as retribution for the Calderón administration’s refusal to renew MVS’ discounted license for valuable airwave frequencies. The spectrum negotiations led to a standoff between the administration and MVS and its employees and allies, with Sota taking a very public role as the government’s spokesperson, the suit says.

“Publication of the article was an intentional act of revenge, on a woman who had expressed disagreement with MVS,” Boies Schiller’s Sherman wrote in the complaint.

Estevez’s December 2013 article named Sota last on the “most corrupt” list, alongside politicians and union leaders accused or convicted of murder, collaborating with drug cartels and massive embezzlement. The story says Sota was under investigation by Mexican authorities for embezzling and influence trafficking, and notes that she was then attending a graduate program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government despite having no college degree. (Sota says the Harvard program doesn’t require an undergraduate degree.) An updated version of the story clarified that Sota had been cleared of “illicit enrichment” charges in the government’s probe.

Forbes communications VP Mia Carbonell said in an emailed statement that the suit had “no merit.”

For more on this story go to: http://www.litigationdaily.com/id=1202704166244/Boies-Schiller-Takes-On-Forbes-Over-Mexican-Corruption-List#ixzz3MH1n1lpW

 

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