November 17, 2014

Edwin Mellen Press Drops Lawsuit Against McMaster Librarian Dale Askey

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The Edwin Mellen Press has dropped one of two lawsuits against librarian Dale Askey, the press announced in a release dated March 1, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

The move came after McMaster University, named as a co-defendant in one of the two suits, reportedly “made arrangements to ensure Associate University Librarian Dale Askey can cover his anticipated legal costs.”

“The Association [of Canadian University Presses] and others have pursued a social media campaign complaining about legal action taken by EMP… The financial pressure of the social media campaign and pressure on authors is severe. EMP is a small company. Therefore must choose to focus its resources on its business and serving its authors,” the Press said in its statement.

Among those others who called on EMP to drop the suit include the Canadian Library Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American University Presses, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), as well as a variety of smaller groups and individual librarians, including more than 3,000 signatories of a Change.org petition. (For a roundup of the events and articles about the suit, see INFOdocket.com.)

That leaves unresolved, however, the fate of the second suit, which named Askey alone.

Askey declined to comment, noting, “[t]he suit naming me as sole defendant remains in force. My lawyer is speaking to the plaintiff’s lawyers about their intentions there, but for now, from my point of view, it’s not over.”

Gord Arbeau, McMaster Director of Public and Community Relations, told LJ, “We’ve now been able to confirm with our counsel that they’ve received a notice of discontinuance from Edwin Mellen Press, effectively ending the case against the University. This is good news for all those across North America who have supported McMaster’s position on protecting free speech and in defence of academic freedom. Since this case was filed, McMaster indicated that it would rigorously defend the princples that are foundational to the university. Today’s decision by Mellen Press to discontinue these cases is an indication of the effectiveness of the many voices who supported McMaster and Mr. Askey.” However, Arbeau told LJ, “It is unclear whether the second suit was dropped. ” Meredith Schwartz, News Editor, LJ

From the CBC:

A U.S.-based publishing company says it is dropping at least one of its lawsuits against a McMaster librarian after scholars across North America came to his defense.

Edwin Mellen Press (EMP) had filed two lawsuits against Dale Askey and McMaster University, claiming a total of $4.5 million in damages.

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EMP told CBC Hamilton on Monday that it “has discontinued the court case against McMaster University and Dale Askey.”

In a statement, the company added: “financial pressure of the social media campaign and press on authors is severe. EMP is a small company. Therefore [it] must choose to focus its resources on its business and serving its authors.”

Full Text Article (and Including Complete Statement from Mellen Press)

We will update this post with more info as it becomes available.

Update 1: As Meredith Schwartz’s February 11, 2013 article points out, Mellen Press filed two lawsuits against Askey.

The second suit, aimed only at Askey, names press founder Herbert Richardson as plaintiff and alleged additional defamatory remarks about him personally.

Today’s news is about the cases that names both Askey and McMaster as defendents. No word on the second suit only naming Dale Askey. We’re asking.

Update 2: Publisher to drop lawsuit against McMaster and librarian (via The The Silhouette, Student Newspaper at McMaster)

The University confirmed with its lawyers this afternoon that a ‘notice of discontinuance’ was sent by EMP to McMaster’s legal counsel.

“We’re pleased by the Press’s decision [not to go through with this case],” said Gord Arbeau, a McMaster spokesperson. ”This is good news for all those across North America who have supported McMaster and Mr. Askey.”

As for the second lawsuit against Askey in which McMaster was not named, Arbeau said “that piece is still not clear at this point.”

Update 3: One Down, One to Go: Edwin Mellen Press Blinks One Eye (by Rick Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen)

From Anderson’s Post:

Many of us in the scholarly community will be very happy to learn that EMP has “discontinued” its suit against McMaster and Askey. However, the suit against Askey himself is still active. Now that McMaster University is no longer under direct threat, one can only hope that it will offer practical and concrete support to Askey if the suit against him continues to move forward. And anyone who sees EMP’s continued action as an affront to academic (and personal) free speech may want to say so publicly. I know I do.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.