New York Review of Books Retracts Defamation Error
On August 21, 2014, Pulitzer Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the stadium for the 2022 World Cup, sued the New York Review of Books and its critic, Martin Filler, for defamation. Hadid claimed that Filler defamed her in his June 5, 2014 article, “The Insolence of Architecture,” in which he reviewed non-party Rowan Moore’s book Why We Build: Desire and Power in Architecture. Hadid asserted that Filler’s following passage defamed her:
“However, despite the numerous horror stories about this coercive exploitation, some big-name practitioners don’t seem moved by the plight of the Emirates’ imported serfs. Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and a member of Gulf Labor, an advocacy group that is seeking to redress this region-wide injustice, earlier this year wrote a chilling New York Times Op-Ed piece. In it he quotes the Iraqi-born, London-based architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar, now being built for the 2022 World Cup. She has unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern, for the estimated one thousand laborers who have perished while constructing her project thus far. ‘I have nothing to do with the workers,’ Hadid has claimed. ‘It is not my duty as an architect to look at it.‘”
Hadid contends that Filler defamed her because workers have not begun constructing the stadium, and no workers have died. Moreover, the passage implies that she is indifferent to the workers’ deaths. Architectmagazine.com reports that Hadid’s complaint seeks “a withdrawal of the article from publication, a retraction, unspecified damages from the defendants, full payment of legal fees, and ‘any further relief as justice may require.’”
On August 25, 2014, Filler retracted his statement in a letter to the editor entitled, An Apology to Zaha Hadid, which is also added to the end of the review online. The Los Angeles Times reports that Hadid’s legal team received Filler’s retraction but has yet to respond.
Although Hadid obtained Filler’s retraction, it may be difficult for the architect to receive any other relief that she seeks in her complaint if her lawsuit reaches the trial stage. Since Hadid is a Pulitzer Prize-winning architect, she will likely be deemed a public figure, and consequently, she has to prove that Filler acted with “actual malice” when he wrote his article, which is a difficult standard to prove, as explained in this post about celebrity defamation suits.
Joseph Perry (@jperry325) is a 3L at St. John’s University whose goal is to become a publishing media law attorney. He has interned at William Morris Endeavor, Rodale, Inc., Columbia University Press, and is currently interning at Hachette Book Group and the Media Law Resource Center, which has given him insight into the legal aspects of the publishing and media industries.
Featured Image Courtesy of [Phil Gyford via Flickr]