As we discussed in Part IX, one of John Lott’s two claims was settled, when Steven Levitt apologized for e-mails he sent another economist. It’s questionable how much satisfaction Lott can get from this, since, as an economist, he surely realizes that, without a loser-pays rule or agreement, there is a pooling equilibrium whereby both the sincerely-apologizing Levitt and the insincerely-apologizing Levitt would take the same course of action to avoid spending tens of thousands of dollars defending a de minimis allegation of libel, regardless of the merits of the claim.
The more significant, if less meritorious, claim of libel in Freakonomics is on appeal; Lott is now claiming that the case should have been decided under the allegedly more friendly Virginia libel law than the Illinois law under which his claim fails, but that is generally an argument for (at best) a claim of legal malpractice, rather than for a do-over for an expressly waived argument in federal court. Lott has posted the briefs; David Glenn blogs about the 2-year mark in the case. Not that I think Lott has a valid legal malpractice claim, either, unless his attorneys told him he had a good shot at winning more than he would spend in legal fees.
Lott does interesting economic research, and it is unfortunate he is tarring his reputation with a lawsuit that has the potential to impinge upon academic freedom.