Ellison v. Fantagraphics, et al.

[Regarding Defendants' publication of Gary Groth's "rebuttal" statement on Fantagraphics' website]

Dear All:

Gary Groth has published his "rebuttal" statement referred to in the recent settlement agreement between Harlan Ellison and the Fantagraphics Defendants in the above referenced case. The settlement agreement stated that Mr. Ellison would permit the Defendants to post on Mr. Ellison's website a 500 word rebuttal to: "statements made by Plaintiff that accused Mr. Groth of embezzling funds in the Fleischer case ... soliciting ... funds under false pretenses ..." and "statements which likened Mr. Groth to a child molester." See Settlement Agreement. Page 4, Paragraph 6.

The grant of this short rebuttal was not an opportunity to grandstand on the First Amendment -- Fantagraphics' supposed knightly championing of it and Mr. Ellison's alleged disregard of it -- thereby perpetuating the one-upsmanship on the topic, as to who believes in the First Amendment more, etcetera. In our opinion, the Defendants overreached both the letter and the spirit of the settlement agreement. It was precisely this sort of sniping Mr. Ellison intended to quell as a by-product of the main thrust of this case, which was to correct the record.

The parties had not yet privately resolved their disagreement on whether Mr. Groth's "rebuttal" was an overreaching First Amendment screed or within the limited scope of the settlement agreement. The Defendants published it anyway.

Regarding the substance of the rebuttal: It is important to point out that at the time Mr. Groth's objections to the two statements were made known to Ellison, Ellison took steps to investigate, correct, retract and even apologize for any inaccuracy. We believe these are the appropriate steps to take, both legally and morally, when confronted with a legitimate concern about the veracity of a public statement. As to the prior hyperbole that both sides have engaged in, this settlement agreement was to put an end to it once and for all.

In the case of Ellison v. Fantagraphics et al., the settlement agreement speaks for itself on the subject and no further comment need be made.

Mr. Ellison considers the matter closed.

John H. Carmichael
counsel for Harlan Ellison