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Constance M. Pendleton

PendletonConstance
Partner
Co-chair, Media Law Practice
T202.973.4229
F202.973.4429
Connie Pendleton represents clients in the area of media law, from prepublication and prebroadcast counseling through trial. She represents cable networks, television and radio broadcasters, book, magazine, newspaper, and online publishers, book sellers, journalists and authors in defamation, privacy, and newsgathering claims, reporter’s privilege, copyright, theft of ideas, and other First Amendment matters. She also provides advice on advertising, marketing, contests and sweepstakes and other promotions.

Connie’s clients include: Air America Radio Network, Al Jazeera America, Amazon.com, Atlantic Media, Bauer Publishing, Bonneville International Corp., Center for American Progress, China Central Television (CCTV), CNN, Comcast, Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel), Dow Jones (Wall Street Journal, Barron’s), E! Entertainment Television, The Economist, Fusion, Gannett Co., Journal Communications, Inc., MTV, News Corp., NBCUniversal, Pro Publica, Inc., Random House, Simon & Schuster, Scripps Networks Interactive (Travel Channel, HGTV, Food Network), Some Spider (Café.com), and United Mine Workers of America.

Representative Experience

Prepublication and prebroadcast counseling

Provides advice relating to newspaper and magazine articles, online publications, television programs, and books, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, The Atlantic Monthly, Quartz.com, TheWire.com, ProPublica, Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, Fusion, CCTV, Al Jazeera, Straus Newspapers, Center for American Progress, Think Progress, Café.com, The Daily Beast, Us Weekly, Life & Style, and In Touch magazines, and MTV books. (Ongoing)

Adelson v. O’Keeffe

Representing Wall Street Journal reporter in third-party discovery in libel suit pending in Hong Kong, brought by Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billionaire casino magnate (High Ct. of Hong Kong Special Admin. Region; D.N.J., D. Nev. Ongoing)

Pras Michel v. NYP Holdings, Inc.

Defending the New York Post and two of its reporters in defamation suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida brought by rapper Pras Michel, founding member of the Fugees, arising from report that he “bailed on his own 9/11 benefit concert.” (S.D. Fla. Ongoing)

Sunset v. Discovery Communications, Inc.

Defended Discovery in theft of ideas suit relating to creation of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and its programming. Case dismissed. (S.D. Fla. 2014)

Boley v. Atlantic Monthly Group and Jeffrey Goldberg

Obtained dismissal under D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act dismissing defamation claim against the Atlantic and its award-winning journalist arising from online articles reporting that plaintiff was a Liberian "warlord," whose organization "recruited and armed child soldiers, fed them drugs, and ordered them to rape and kill." No. 13-cv-89 950 F. Supp. 2d 249. (D.D.C. 2013)

FoodFellas Productions, LLC v. Discovery Communications, LLC

Defended Discovery Communications, Inc. in copyright claim alleging Discovery Channel program "CarFellas" infringed copyright in "FoodFellas" program. Case dismissed. (S.D.N.Y 2012)

Peppe v. Random House

Defended Random House in right of publicity suit arising from publication of former CIA agent’s photographs in national bestseller, "First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan." (Alexandria (Va.) Cir. Ct. and E.D. Va. 2012)

Patock v. Fox et al

Obtained dismissal of defamation claims against NBC, CNN, Gannett (Arizona Republic), and Journal Communications (KGUN) relating to news reports of plaintiff's arrest and alleged threats to shoot the president. (E.D. Va. 2012)

Barnes v. OCC and Discovery Communications

Defended Discovery, Orange County Choppers and licensees in copyright suit relating to licensing of motorcycle artwork on motorcycles from the TLC program "American Choppers." (S.D.N.Y. 2010)

National Business Aviation Ass’n v. FAA

Defeated on behalf of Pro Publica a reverse FOIA claim seeking to prevent the FAA from releasing information about private plane owners who have blocked public release of flight plans. 686 F. Supp. 2d 80 (D.D.C. 2010)

Donohoe v. Bonneville International Corp. (WTOP radio)

Defended WTOP Radio in a discrimination case filed by a former radio station employee claiming he was terminated because of his age. No. 1:07-cv-949 (RWR) (D.D.C. 2009)

The Humane Society of the United States v. Amazon.com, et al.

Defended Amazon.com in a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States regarding sale of subscriptions to cockfighting magazines. 2007 WL 1297170 (D.D.C. 2007)

CACI International v. Randi Rhodes and Piquant, LLC (Air America Radio)

Represented Air America Radio Network, and its former talk show host Randi Rhodes, in securing summary judgment dismissing libel suit which alleged that, on her radio program, Rhodes falsely stated that CACI interrogators committed rape, murder and torture at Abu Ghraib prison. Affirming summary judgment, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that statements were either not made with actual malice, based on findings of military investigations and news accounts, or were nonactionable hyperbole. (4th Cir. 2008)

Massey Coal v. United Mine Workers of America, et al.

Obtained dismissal of libel action brought by a coal mining company and its president against union; appeal denied. (Fairfax Cnty. (Va.) Cir. Ct. 2007)

O'Grady v. Discovery Communications and 20th Century Fox

Represented Discovery in claims of false advertising and commercial misappropriation arising out of a promotional tie-in. 2003 WL 24174616 (E.D. Tex. 2003) (granting partial summary judgment for defendants)

Doss v. Random House

Defended Random House, Inc., and author in defamation and false light suit concerning use of plaintiff's name in "Love Works Like This," a work of creative nonfiction. (D. Md. 2003)

Jane Doe v. Merck & Co.

Successfully vacated a $2 million punitive judgment against pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co. and its advertising agency, in a libel and right of publicity action based on use of a model's photograph in promotional brochure for an anti-AIDS drug. (N.Y. Super. Ct. 2002)

Kossatz v. Village Voice Media, Inc.

Defended Village Voice newspaper in right of publicity suit brought by former Sports Illustrated model for use of her photograph in escort service advertisement. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2001)

Rubin v. U.S. News & World Report

Obtained dismissal, affirmed in 11th Circuit, of libel by implication case for national news weekly. 271 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir. 2001)

FTC v. RJ Reynolds Tobacco*

Defended tobacco advertiser in FTC’s unfairness action arising from Joe Camel advertising campaign. Case dismissed.

John Dean v. G. Gordon Liddy and Maxine Wells v. G. Gordon Liddy*

Defended G. Gordon Liddy in defamation claims arising from alternative theories about the Watergate break-in.
* Denotes experience completed at a prior firm

Professional & Community Activities

  • Past Secretary, Media Law Committee of the Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, National Child Research Center (NCRC Preschool), Washington, D.C.
  • Member, Head of School Counsel, Milton Academy, Milton, Mass.
  • Former Board member, Blue Igloo Playgroup, Washington, D.C.

Professional Recognition

  • Selected to "Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers," Thomson Reuters, 2014
  • Named as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Media Law by Best Lawyers, 2010-present
  • Exclusive winner of the "2013 Client Choice Award" for Media and Entertainment Law in Washington, D.C. by ILO and Lexology, nominated by corporate counsel
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