Mr. Mahendra Trivedi, the Trivedi Foundation, and the Trivedi Companies (Trivedi) claim to have performed 70,000 miracles around the world and, believe it or not, some people are skeptical.

Dennis Lang, a free-lance writer, wrote a story about the so-called Trivedi Effect and the Trivedi business, suggesting Trivedi’s busines is a sham.

Judge Robert Awsumb of the Ramsey County District Court threw Trivedi’s case of defamation against Lang out, ruling that Trivedi was a “limited-purpose public-figure” and Mr. Lang was a “media defendant” based on his on-line publication of seven freelance articles. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed in part but reversed in part.

Unfortunately for Mr. Lang, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that his alleged statements of Mr. Trivedi’s alleged sexual improprieties stood apart from Trivedi’s other defamation claims, which were tossed out.

Unlike Lang’s statements of the sham nature of the Trivedi Effect, the Court ruled, “Trivedi’s sexual conduct is insufficient to make that subject one of public debate…Therefore, [Lang’s] statements concerning sexual matters are not part of the public controversy…While [Lang’s] accusations of Trivedi’s sexual misconduct are serious and troubling, there is no public controversy extending to them.”

That fact that Mr. Trivedi’s sex life is not a subject of public debate means that the defamation plaintiff (Mr. Trivedi) need not offer proof of actual malice for these claims to go forward. Mr. Lang’s only defense to these claims, it seems, will be to prove that the allegations are true. Needless to say, this could be difficult and expensive for Mr. Lang. On the other hand, this could be difficult, expensive, and also embarrassing for Mr. Trivedi.

Mr. Lang is represented by attorney Mark Anfinson, counsel for the Minnesota Newspaper Association. Trivedi is represented by Nathan Knoernschild of the Chestnut Cambronne.

 

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