I posted a piece on Valentine’s Day about a libel lawsuit that had been filed in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Hoffman’s friend, David Bar Katz, sued the National Enquirer for its story alleging that Katz and Hoffman were lovers and that Katz had witnessed Hoffman use heroin and freebase cocaine the night before he died.
It turns out the case, which Katz filed on February 12, has now settled. That is lightning speed for the civil justice system. According to Katz’s lawyer, The National Enquirer found a person named David Katz, who claimed to be David Bar Katz. The phony Katz provided the salacious details. And according to the real David Katz, the stuff about him being Hoffman’s lover didn’t bother him nearly as much as the allegations that He’d witnessed Hoffman’s drug use and did nothing about it. According to the real Katz, Hoffman never did drugs in his presence.
As part of the settlement, The National Enquirer is taking out a full page ad in the Times news section today (February 26). The text of the ad was supplied by Katz’s lawyer. In addition, The National Enquirer is paying an undisclosed sum to fund the American Playwriting Foundation, which will give an annual award of $45,000 for an unproduced play.
So, in some cases, swift justice actually does exist. And it’s nice to see this resolved in a way that will have long term benefits. The lesson for journalists is worth repeating – don’t let speed take priority over accuracy. I suspect The National Enquirer wishes it had done a little more checking into the phony Katz’s story.