Let's say two employees for a toy company talk about a company's product being dangerously unsafe (regardless if was true or not) on a news channel. The same toy company goes on later on to file a defamation lawsuit and the following happens:

  1. The witnesses made it clear they would not back down from the lawsuit and would challenge it.
  2. The news channel does not want to get involved and would retract any articles, but the company made it clear they would sue them anyway.

If they are written in the same lawsuit (BT Baby Toys vs Alex A, Bobby B and XYZ News), are they sued separately or all together? Can the news organization bail out of the lawsuit early and pay a settlement fee or something?

  • What's the jurisdiction?
    – hszmv
    Feb 8, 2021 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


Either is possible

Let's look at a very recent example: Dominion sued Guliani and Powell separately. But Smartmatics sued both plus Fox at once. Their allegations are even very similar.

The benefit of Smartmatics' approach is, they only need to file documents once, and only meet one time the filing fee. Parties may try to get their case split off, then they become a separate case and it becomes the Dominion strategy.

The benefit of Dominion's approach is, that the separate cases are harder to dismiss for each party on their own and they have no standing to weigh in on the other case. If the court consolidates the cases, it becomes the Smartmatics strategy.

Also note, that the court can act on its own against a joint lawsuit: parties might get dismissed from it that were improperly joined. Those dismissals are without prejudice and can be fixed by just re-filing the lawsuit against the dismissed defendant alone.


are they sued separately or all together?

A priori that depends on plaintiff's litigation strategy. But if sued separately, the court --perhaps upon defendants' motion-- may opt to consolidate the lawsuits on grounds that both of them involve the same set of facts.

Can the news organization bail out of the lawsuit early and pay a settlement fee or something?

The news organization cannot unilaterally bail out of the lawsuit. It will need to persuade the toy company to settle the claims. If the toy company declines to settle out of court, the news organization will have to either seek dismissal or engage in prolonged litigation.

Some jurisdictions (examples: Texas and Florida) require the prospective plaintiff to demand from defamer(s) a retraction prior to filing suit. Your description is unclear whether the toy company requested a retraction, but plaintiff's omission in that regard would forfeit his claims. This means that the defamer(s) would manage to get dismissed from the case at an early stage. In other jurisdictions (example: Michigan) that is prerequisite is applicable only for purposes of exemplary and punitive damages.

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