A jury awarded the University of Virginia’s Nicole Eramo $3 million Monday after ruling that Rolling Stone and journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely had defamed Eramo with actual malice by publishing their 2014 article “A Rape on Campus.”
Eramo had originally requested $7.5 million, as well as $350,000 in punitive damages, but withdrew the latter request last month (though after the ruling Friday her lawyer suggested she might ask for more). On Monday, she reportedly took the stand to emotionally describe what the story’s publication has done to her, explaining that she contemplated suicide and struggled to recover from surgery for breast cancer.
The details on why the jury decided Erdely, Rolling Stone and its parent company Wenner Media were liable have to do with the magazine’s decision to “republish” the article once it had received criticism with an editor’s note explaining its shortcomings, and what’s been ruled as their purposeful decision to ignore issues that cropped up with the piece. They also focused on comments Erdely made about Eramo in interviews following the piece’s publication. Per the AP:
Jurors found that the magazine and its publisher, Wenner Media, acted with actual malice because they republished the article on Dec. 5 with an editor’s note after they knew about the problems with Jackie’s story. The jury also found that Erdely acted with actual malice on six claims: two statements in the article and four statements to media outlets after the story was published.
Jurors awarded $2 million to Eramo for statements made by Erdely and $1 million for the republication of the article by Rolling Stone and Wenner Media. Rolling Stone could appeal the verdict.
Rolling Stone has agreed to pay Erdely’s legal costs and the damages levied against her.
Rolling Stone is also still facing a $25 million lawsuit from Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity in question in the piece.