A jury has granted climate scientist Michael Mann $1 million in a defamation case

WASHINGTON: A jury ruled on Thursday to award $1 million to climate scientist Michael Mann, who filed a lawsuit against two conservative writers 12 years ago over their likening of his portrayals of global warming to those of a convicted child molester.

Mann, a professor of climate science at the University of Pennsylvania, gained recognition for a graph published in 1998 in the journal Nature, famously known as the “hockey stick” for its vivid representation of a warming planet.

While this work brought Mann widespread attention, it also attracted skepticism, particularly from the two writers whom Mann sued for comments he claimed damaged his career and reputation both domestically and internationally.

Following the leaking of emails from Mann and other scientists in 2009, which sparked further scrutiny of the “hockey stick” graph with skeptics alleging data manipulation, a blog post by Rand Simberg, then associated with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, compared investigations into Mann’s work to the case of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State University convicted of multiple counts of child sexual abuse.

During the trial, Mann argued that he lost grant funding due to the blog posts. The defendants, however, contended that Mann became one of the world’s most renowned climate scientists in the years following their comments.

The jury found both Simberg and Mark Steyn, who referenced Simberg’s article in National Review, guilty of making false statements. It awarded Mann $1 in compensatory damages from each writer and imposed punitive damages of $1,000 from Simberg and $1 million from Steyn, citing their statements as malicious and intended to cause harm.

Steyn, representing himself during the trial, expressed his intention to appeal the punitive damages, emphasizing the need for due process scrutiny.

Simberg’s attorney, Mark DeLaquil, stated that his client was disappointed with the verdict and planned to appeal.

While both writers argued that they were expressing opinions, legal experts noted that the jury found they had recklessly disregarded the falsity of their statements.

Mann’s case has drawn attention from the scientific community amid growing misinformation about climate change on social media platforms. He expressed hope that the verdict would deter further defamation of scientists.

The judge reminded the jury before deliberation that their task was not to determine the validity of global warming.

Despite the verdict in Mann’s favor, climate change remains a contentious issue in the United States, with stark partisan divisions on the matter.

Mann also announced his intention to appeal a 2021 decision that held National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute not liable for defamation in the same incident, stating, “We think it was wrongly decided. They’re next.”

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.