Georgia insurance adjuster and consultant Bruce Fredrics’ filed a lawsuit against a reporter relating to a proposed television exposé on Mr. Fredrics and his business. In Frederics v. Hon. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State, et al., Case No. 2019CV317438 (Aug. 2, 2019), Mr. Fredrics sought effectively to stop Harry Samler, the host of the local news’ station’s pro-consumer investigative show “Better Call Harry,” from publishing any news stories about his dealings with a homeowner who claimed he defrauded her, and who had subsequently turned to Mr. Samler to publicize her alleged negative experience. Notably, Mr. Samler’s investigation dealt not only with Mr. Frederics’ dealings with this homeowner, but also the consumer complaint filed by that homeowner and resulting investigation against Mr. Frederics by a Georgia regulatory agency.
But Mr. Samler’s employer, CBS46, had other plans to protect its lead investigative reporter (and, ostensibly, one of its most popular segments): it filed a motion to intervene and to join a motion to strike filed by Mr. Samler that asked the Georgia Superior Court to make a finding that Mr. Frederics’ lawsuit impermissibly curtailed CBS46’s constitutionally-protected newsgathering activities. Mr. Frederics opposed both motions, first claiming that, because CBS46 was neither a defendant in his actions nor the target of any of his specific claims, it had no right to intervene in the action. The Superior Court promptly disposed of that argument, noting that “[t]he media’s right to intervene in legal actions that seek to impede its ability to gather and report the news is well established.”