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West Virginia Record

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Federal judge denies Woody Williams’ temporary restraining order for book

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By Kyla Asbury | May 5, 2020

Woodywilliams

HUNTINGTON — A federal judge has denied a motion for a temporary restraining order by Hershel "Woody" Williams regarding a book recently published.

Judge Thomas E. Johnston wrote that Williams was essentially wanting the court to enforce a disputed oral contract that he himself had interpreted Bryan Rigg to make statements three years prior that served as a waiver of Rigg's First Amendment Rights in the present, according to the May 4 opinion and order.

"This argument is a reach, to say the least," Johnston wrote. "The Supreme Court has classified the freedom of thought and speech to be 'the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.' It is only logical to conclude that clear, compelling, written language is required to waive such rights."

Rigg's attorney, Thomas Hancock, said he was happy with the outcome.

"We are very pleased that the Court reached the right conclusion on this significant issue, vindicating Mr. Rigg’s First Amendment rights, and allowing us to continue publishing this important book," Hancock, who works at Nelson Mullins in Huntington, told The West Virginia Record. "Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of our democracy, and we look forward to finishing our fight against the efforts to silence my client’s free speech and his ability to share what he has learned through his extensive research."

Williams filed the motion for a temporary restraining order March 21, claiming that he would suffer significant damages if the book, which was published March 20, was allowed to remain on shelves.

Bryan Mark Rigg argued that Williams failed to identify any defamatory or reputationally damaging statements that he's been alleging harm from.

Williams, 96, filed the lawsuit last May in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against Rigg and his then-publishing companies.

Williams claims in 2015, he met Rigg while accompanying other veterans on a tour of Guam and Iwo Jima and had several conversations with him over the years about the possibility of collaborating for a book.

By 2018, there was a deterioration of Williams' and Rigg’s relationship, resulting in a “significant breakdown in communication” between the two. and Williams alleged that Rigg failed and refused to provide subsequent drafts of the book.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:19-cv-00423

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia