NEW ORLEANS, La. (KLFY) — The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that Lafayette Consolidated Government’s (LCG) lawsuit can continue against a comedian who posted a pair of fake “Antifa” events on Facebook in 2020.
New York comedian John Merrifield posted two parody events on Facebook in July 2020, including “ANTIFA Takes River Ranch” and a second post based around the Acadiana Mall. Merrifield told KLFY in September 2020 it was all just a joke to raise awareness towards the excessive force being used by the city government in the Trayford Pellerin shooting and the closure of a number of recreation centers on Lafayette’s northside in 2020.
Lafayette Police responded to the River Ranch fake event, and LCG later sued Merrifield for reimbursement for the costs of the response. The full amount has not been made public, but Merrifield told KLFY in September the amount is below $75,000.
Merrifield and his attorneys have been attempting to get the lawsuit dismissed under the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which relies on First Amendment protections to dismiss unjustified, punitive lawsuits. However, in November 2020, 15th Judicial District Judge Edward B. Broussard sided with LCG in court, denying Merrifield’s attempt to strike the lawsuit. Broussard cited the possibility of the events inciting violence in his ruling.
In March 2021, Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeal upheld Broussard’s ruling.
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court came with no comment or analysis, much like the Third Circuit’s ruling.