JUST IN: CNN Could Be Forced To Pay $1 BILLION From Defamation Suit


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CNN has found itself entangled in a legal battle that could prove extremely costly. A defamation lawsuit spearheaded by Zachary Young and his company Nemex Enterprises Inc. has the potential to result in a staggering $1 billion in punitive damages against the news network.

The case revolves around CNN’s portrayal of Young, a U.S. Navy Veteran and private security consultant, in its coverage of the chaotic evacuation efforts during the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. Young, who played a crucial role in helping Afghan citizens flee the Taliban, claims that CNN’s reporting not only damaged his reputation but also irreparably harmed his business.

In a segment aired on “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on November 11, 2021, and later republished across various platforms, CNN reporter Alex Marquardt accused Young of operating in a “black market” and exploiting desperate Afghans by charging “exorbitant fees.” According to Young, these accusations were not only false but also portrayed him as an illegal profiteer, tarnishing his efforts and his character.

After, Young filed the defamation and trade libel lawsuit against CNN, arguing that the network’s coverage was both misleading and defamatory. The lawsuit gained significant traction when Young moved to amend his complaint to include claims for punitive damages, citing CNN’s intentional misconduct and gross negligence.

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The trial court, presided over by Judge William Scott Henry, found that Young had provided sufficient preliminary evidence to support his claims. The evidence included internal CNN communications that questioned the accuracy and completeness of the story, as well as messages exchanged between Young and CNN employees that highlighted factual inaccuracies in the reporting. Despite the red flags, CNN proceeded with the broadcast, leading to the current legal showdown.

“We must consider whether Young made a reasonable evidentiary proffer to provide a reasonable basis for recovery of punitive damages at this stage. After reviewing the totality of the proffered evidence in the light most favorable to Young, we conclude that he did,” Judge Henry wrote in the filing.

“Young sufficiently proffered evidence of actual malice, express malice, and a level of conduct outrageous enough to open the door for him to seek punitive damages. Whether Young can ultimately prevail is not the issue before us.”

His decision to allow the amendment for punitive damages was a critical turning point. Under Florida law, before a claimant can seek punitive damages, the court must determine that there is a reasonable basis for such claims. The trial court’s role as a “gatekeeper” ensures that claims for punitive damages are not frivolous and that there is substantial evidence to support them.

CNN appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing that Young’s evidence was insufficient and that their reporting was based on opinion and ambiguous language rather than intentional falsehoods. However, the First District Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s ruling, stating that Young had indeed made a reasonable evidentiary proffer. The appellate court claimed that the issue at this stage was not about proving the allegations but about the sufficiency of the evidence to support a claim for punitive damages.

The affirmation by the appellate court means that CNN could potentially face up to $1 billion in punitive damages if Young’s claims are ultimately proven.

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Scoop Diggins