Tort Law

Lawyer Says News Article Defamed Her by Grossly Overstating Her Ad Litem Fee in Divorce Case


A Missouri lawyer filed a defamation suit (PDF posted by Courthouse News) on Thursday in state court contending that she has suffered professional harm because of a legal news article that grossly overstated the fee she charged to serve as guardian ad litem in a divorce case.

Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly and Lisa E. Payne-Naeger are named as defendants in the St. Louis City Circuit Court suit, which seeks more than $500,000 in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages. The plaintiff, Benicia Baker-Livorsi, says she will never be able to live down the false claim that she charged an “absurd and obscene” $80,000 fee (her actual fee, she says, was a little over $10,000 for a matter that lasted more than a year), because the false information in the legal article was picked up by a “website devoted to bashing lawyers” and has not been removed or corrected.

Despite a correction by Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly, the damage continues, Baker-Livorsi says in her suit: “Now, and forevermore, because of the marvelous invention of ‘Google,’ the search terms ‘Benicia Baker-Livorsi’ and ‘guardian ad litems’ and ‘Missouri’, will bring a viewer to see, in order, front and center, the articles about Benicia Baker-Livorsi under the titles ‘Judicial Corruption’ and ‘What Really Motivates Lawyers in Missouri’s GAL System? Money!’”

Hat tip: Courthouse News.

Last updated 2 p.m. Sunday to correct inconsistent spelling of the plaintiff’s name.

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