New York Times Looks At LaBan Libel Case

The New York Times looks at the case of Chops and Craig LaBan of the Inquirer.

THE review, published last month in The Philadelphia Inquirer, was three sentences long. It praised the crab cake at Chops restaurant in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., but said the meal there over all “was expensive and disappointing, from the soggy and sour chopped salad to a miserably tough and fatty strip steak.”

The resulting libel lawsuit was 16 pages long. It did not dispute that the steak was lousy. Rather, it said that Craig LaBan, a restaurant critic for The Inquirer, “ate a steak sandwich without bread, not a strip steak, and therefore had, and has, no personal knowledge of the quality of the Chops strip steak.”

By comparing “a $15 steak sandwich to an upscale dinner strip steak,” the suit said, Mr. LaBan and The Inquirer libeled the restaurant, hurting its reputation and business.

The suit joins a long line of court encounters between sharp reviews and the restaurateurial ego, and, if the earlier cases are a reliable guide, it is doomed.

Serving You Tonight Will Be Our Lawyer [New York Times] via PhilaFoodie