Trade publication Adweek and its former reporter Patrick Coffee have asked a U.S. District Court in Virginia to toss a defamation lawsuit against them by Joe Alexander, the former creative chief at Interpublic’s The Martin Agency.
Alexander also sued Diet Madison Avenue and a number of “Jane Does” in the same action for allegedly defamatory posts on the DMA website that called out the former creative chief as a decades-long sex harasser of female co-workers.
Alexander was forced to resign a short time after the allegations were posted on the DMA site in the fall of 2017. Coffee was one of several reporters covering advertising that put together detailed reports on Alexander’s alleged history as a sex harasser.
In the suit, Alexander claimed Adweek and Coffee were “agents” or possibly “members” of the group and conspired with it to help ruin his career.
At the time, the charge seemed farfetched and in its motion to dismiss, Adweek and Coffee termed Alexander’s charge a “fantastic tale of a wide-ranging conspiracy,” with no basis of truth.
The publication and reporter (now with Business Insider) also argued that Alexander is a “public figure” in the ad industry. As such, he must establish that any defamatory statements in Coffee’s reporting had to be made with “actual malice.”
They also argued that the Virginia court hearing the case has no jurisdiction over the publication, based in New York, or Coffee, also based there.
Alexander has also sued The Martin Agency and parent Interpublic in a separate action.