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Admitted to Practice

  • New York, 1998
  • District of Columbia, 1999
  • U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York

Constance M. Pendleton

PendletonConstance
Partner
T202.973.4229
F202.973.4429
Connie Pendleton represents clients in the area of media law, from pre-publication counseling through trial and appeal. She represents online publishers, production companies, cable news and entertainment networks, television and radio broadcasters, book, magazine, and newspaper 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.

As the daughter of a US Foreign Service Officer and a World Bank lawyer, Connie grew up around the world, living in Tel Aviv; Bujumbura, Burundi in Central Africa; Brussels; London; Paris; Washington, D.C.; Boston; and New York.

Connie’s clients include: Air America Radio Network, Al Jazeera, Amazon.com, Atlantic Media, Oath (AOL/Huffington Post), Bauer Publishing, Center for American Progress, Center for Public Integrity, China Central Television (CCTV), CNN, Comcast, Discovery Inc. (Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel, HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel), Dow Jones (Wall Street Journal, Barron’s), E! Entertainment Television, The Economist, Facebook, Fusion, Gannett Co., Jet.com, Journal Communications, Inc., MTV, News Corp., NBCUniversal, Pew, Pro Publica, Inc., Random House, Simon & Schuster, Some Spider (Scary Mommy.com, Café.com), TheCipherOnline.com, United Mine Workers of America, and V-Day.

Representative Experience

Pre-publication and pre-broadcast counseling

Provides advice relating to newspaper and magazine articles, online publications, television programs, and books, including Facebook Watch, Slate, Foreign Policy, 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, In Touch magazines, MTV books, and various production companies. (Ongoing)

Brennan v. 42 Technology Ltd., et al.

Defending British product development and engineering firm, and employees, in a defamation action in the District of Massachusetts. Plaintiff’s claims also include tortious interference with employment relations and tortious interference with advantageous relations. (D. Mass. Ongoing)

Drones

Advises media clients including daily newspapers, television producers, leading cable networks, and television news stations on using drones for entertainment and newsgathering in the U.S. and abroad. Advised a leading environmental organization on the potential use of drones for environmental projects. Successfully obtained an FAA exemption permitting a power company to use drones for natural resource monitoring, research, and compliance with hydroelectric relicensing requirements. (Ongoing)

Incarcerated Entertainment LLC v. Kurtis Productions, NBC, CNBC, Hulu, Amazon, Google, and Apple

Defending production company, NBC, CNBC, Amazon, and Hulu in copyright and Lanham Act suit arising from “The Real War Dogs”episode of CNBC program "American Greed" about convicted gunrunner Efraim Diveroli. Motion to Dismiss Lanham Act claim granted. (D. Del. Ongoing)

Glocoms v. Center for Public Integrity

Defending nonprofit investigative news organization, the Center for Public Integrity, in defamation, negligence, and false light suit arising from an investigative news article about abuses in government contracting. (N.D.Ill. Ongoing)

Watkins v. CNN, et al.

Representing cable news network and its reporter in libel and false light suit arising from CNN online news article and social media posts, titled “Behind Trump’s ‘job interview’ with Alicia Watkins.” Lawsuit is brought by a veteran whose appearance at a Trump presidential campaign rally sparked controversy when the candidate engaged her in an impromptu job interview. (D. Md. Ongoing)

Third-party subpoenas

Defending cable television networks in non-party subpoenas and depositions relating to theft of ideas suit and breach of contract suit in California. (Ongoing)

Upshaw and O’Neill v. Barnett, Bagshaw

Defending publisher and freelance reporter in defamation, false light, and consumer protection suit arising from article entitled “What Happens When Female Politicians Try to Stand Up to Sports fans: Seattle’s all women’s city council blocks construction on a sport’s stadium. Things got ugly.” Article characterized two Seattle radio talk show hosts as “shock jocks” and attributed statements to them about controversy over Seattle sports arena, based on information provided by member of city council. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. Ongoing)

Watkins v. The Washington Post et al.

Successfully defended newspaper and its reporters in libel, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress suit arising from three Washington Post articles, including “What was with that random woman who got a job interview at Trump’s news conference?” Lawsuit was brought by a veteran whose appearance at a Trump presidential campaign rally sparked controversy.  All claims dismissed with prejudice.  Watkins v. The Washington Post, 2018 WL 805394 (D. Md. Feb. 9, 2018)

Junior St. Louis v. NYP Holdings, Inc.

Obtained dismissal on fair report grounds of libel suit against the New York Post arising from article headlined "'Drunk driving-pothead' thinks he's fit to be a corrections officer." See St. Louis v. NYP Holdings, Inc., 54 Misc.3d 1222(A), 54 N.Y.S.3d 613 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017)

Adao v. American Broadcasting Companies

Represented ABC and the New York Post in a copyright infringement action brought by photographer over video aired on ABC World News Tonight, showing Anthony Weiner discussing whether his press secretary would remain on his NYC mayoral campaign after her profanity filled rant on social media. (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 2017)

Adelson v. O’Keeffe

Represented Wall Street Journal reporter in third-party discovery in libel suit pending in Hong Kong, brought by Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billionaire casino magnate over article that described him as a “scrappy, foul mouthed billionaire from working class Dorchester, Mass.” (High Ct. of Hong Kong Special Admin. Region); Successfully defeated motions to quash subpoenas in D.N.J., aff’d 3d Cir.; S.D.N.Y., aff’d 2d Cir.S.D. Fla.; aff'd 11th Cir. D. Nev. (Jan. 2017)

Pras Michel v. NYP Holdings, Inc.

Obtained dismissal on behalf of the New York Post and two of its investigative 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 a report on PageSix.com that he “bailed on” and was a “no-show” at a 9/11 benefit concert to benefit his own foundation. District Court found the article to be non-defamatory opinion. (S.D. Fla. Case no. 14-62649-civ; March 4, 2015). 11th Circuit affirmed dismissal of complaint on actual malice rather than opinion grounds, and remanded so that plaintiff may amend complaint to plead actual malice (11th Cir. March 7, 2016)

Sunset Concepts v. Discovery Communications

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

  • Chair (and former secretary), Media Law Committee of the Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Former Co-chair, Media Law Practice Group, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
  • Trustee, NCRC Preschool, 2014-present; Co-chair, Head of School Search Committee; Co-chair, Communications and Community Committee; Former Vice Chair, NCRC Board; Former Head Support Liaison – National Child Research Center, Washington, D.C.
  • Former member, Head of School Counsel, Milton Academy, Milton, Mass.
  • Former Board member, Blue Igloo Playgroup, Washington, D.C.
  • Advisor, Friends of Macomb Park, Washington, D.C.

Professional Recognition

  • Listed as "Up and Coming" in Media and Entertainment Law by Chambers USA, 2016-2018. Cited as "a rising star who enters the rankings after receiving strong praise for her handling of litigation and prepublication counseling in the media space. Clients report that she is 'a real professional' and 'an excellent resource.'"
  • Selected to "Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers" in Media & Advertising Law, Thomson Reuters, 2014-2018
  • Named as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Media Law by Best Lawyers, 2010-present
  • Named one of "Washington's Top Lawyers" in First Amendment & Media Law, by Washingtonian Magazine, 2015
  • 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
"She knows how issues play out in court." -Chambers USA 2018
Media, technology and first amendment legal devolepments newsletter
"She's smart and she is responsive. When an issue comes up, no matter what it is, she is able to handle it quickly and handle it well." -Chambers USA 2017