Favorable Result in High Profile Sexual Orientation and Defamation Case

The Bernabei & Wachtel firm is pleased to announce a favorable result in a high profile sexual orientation and defamation case brought by Donald Hitchcock against his former employer, the Democratic National Committee, and three DNC officers - Chairman Howard Dean, Treasurer Andy Tobias and Associate Finance Director Julie Tagen.

After extensive discovery, all four defendants had moved for summary judgment. On behalf of Mr. Hitchcock, we filed a detailed opposition which showed that there were numerous disputed factual issues as to the "reasons" for terminating him, and whether the statements that the individual defendants made about him were defamatory. D.C. Superior Court Judge Clark promptly denied all four defendants' motions, thereby allowing the claims to go to trial.

Judge Clark found that there were disputed factual issues whether the DNC discriminated against him based on his advocacy for LGBT issues, his sexual orientation, and his association with his partner who had criticized the DNC. Judge Clark found that there were disputed factual issues whether Howard Dean's statements in the IN Magazine were defamatory, whether Andy Tobias's statements to The Washington Blade and other sources were defamatory, and whether Julie Tagen's statements to other DNC employees were defamatory. Judge Clark also found that there were disputed factual issues as to the involvement of the individual defendants with DNC's termination of his employment.

The press and bloggers rapidly covered this decision and have discussed its significance to LGBT issues in the political world. This coverage includes the Washington Blade, the Citizen Chris blog, Andrew Belonsky's blog, and the America Blog.