Judge Dismisses Mining Magnate's Defamation Lawsuit Against Comedian John Oliver

A judge from West Virginia has dismissed a coal tycoon's defamation lawsuit against comedian John Oliver. Last week, Jeffrey Cramer explained his decision in a brief memo, saying that Oliver's lawyers for HBO had put forth well-founded arguments to dismiss the case.

Last year, Murray Energy Corporation CEO Robert Murray and his company filed a defamation lawsuit against "Last Week Tonight" host Oliver after his talk show ran a segment that allegedly defamed him. During the episode of the show that aired sometime in June 2017, Oliver criticized Murray and the coal industry in general, particularly commenting on the apparent decline of the industry which U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to resuscitate.

Oliver also denounced during the segment the mining tycoon, who is one of U.S.' largest independent operators of coal mines. He also criticized the magnate for his actions in the wake of the Crandall Canyon accident in 2006, where Murray was spotted stating that the accident was due to an earthquake when it was in fact due to unauthorized mining practices.

After the controversial segment, he offered a disclaimer and said that Murray Energy had instructed him in a letter to "cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass or injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy," otherwise, that would result in immediate litigation. Oliver also said he did not really plan the segment to be so much about Murray, but because of the cease and desist order, he felt like it was Murray himself who had forced him to drag his name to the issue. "I know you're probably going to sue me, but you know what, I stand by everything I said," he said.

On Sunday, Murray Energy said in a statement that the judge's decision to dismiss the case had no legal reasoning and was a flagrant disregard of the law. The company also revealed its plan to appeal the decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

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