Pipkin v. Acumen, 2020 UT App 111 (July 30, 2020)

The allegedly defamatory emails and social media posts at issue in this lawsuit critiqued the propriety of a Bylaw which allowed the Utah Republican Party to expel party members who made it onto the primary ballot via a signature-gathering route. The Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants, concluding that the statements at issue were not capable of a defamatory meaning as a matter of law. Although the statements contained strong language that adoption of the Bylaw “flouts current election law,” “constitutes a class B misdemeanor,” and was “illegal,” in context, these statements were exaggerated commentary that no reasonable reader would understand to accuse the individual plaintiffs of criminal conduct for voting for the Bylaw.