Shirley Sherrod continues lawsuit after Breitbart death

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Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart may have died Wednesday but that hasn’t stopped Shirley Sherrod’s defamation lawsuit against him. Sherrod filed the suit against the late conservative activist last February after Breitbart published a controversial, distorted video that led to her firing from her post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Politico reports:

Courts have a fairly straightforward and unemotional way of dealing with deaths, even one as sudden and headline-grabbing as Breitbart’s. Normally, some party or attorney files a “suggestion of death.” In a civil case, the person’s estate is usually substituted for the person who died. So, Breitbart’s estate would ordinarily be liable for any damages that would have been awarded against him. Legal Times pointed out Thursday that Breitbart’s estate’s defense could be weakened by his death, since he would not be available to testify.

However, the impact of Breitbart’s death on the outcome of this particular lawsuit could be limited, since O’Connor presumably was involved in discussions about the video, could testify about them and is also named as a defendant. In other words, the case won’t just be going away unless Sherrod agrees to drop it, or the appeals court rules that the anti-SLAPP law might or does apply.

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