Clare Locke LLP represented University of Virginia Dean Nicole P. Eramo and achieved a $3 million jury verdict against Rolling Stone magazine in one of the most highly publicized defamation cases of the last decade and one of Virginia’s largest verdicts of 2016.
The case concerned Rolling Stone’s viral and now-debunked story “A Rape on Campus,” which falsely demonized Dean Eramo as indifferent to, and complicit in concealing, allegations of a horrific gang rape at a UVA fraternity party. The story was viewed more than 2.7 million times, was a frequent topic of discussion on national talk shows, and caused a firestorm of controversy. As a result of the story, Dean Eramo was bombarded with vitriolic and threatening calls and emails.
During a three-week-long federal trial in Charlottesville, Virginia, numerous survivors took the stand to testify about what they had told Rolling Stone before publication: Dean Eramo is a fierce advocate who worked tirelessly to support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and eradicate campus sexual assault. The jury unanimously found that Rolling Stone and its reporter had known or recklessly disregarded that their claims about Dean Eramo were false.
“Dean Eramo dedicated her life to UVA students and survivors,” said Andy Phillips, a partner at Clare Locke. “It’s reprehensible and disturbing that Rolling Stone destroyed an innocent woman’s reputation to make a point and boost its own advertising revenue. Nicole Eramo has done more to combat campus sexual assault than Rolling Stone has ever done or will ever do.”