Judge Darla Williamson is expected to decide next week to set some of the terms of the pretrial, or discovery, phase of Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot's defamation lawsuit against Mother Jones magazine.
The lawsuit, filed in January in 7th District Court in Idaho Falls, alleges the magazine knowingly and maliciously published false statements relating to VanderSloot and his company, depicting the multimillionaire as a "gay-basher."
The lawsuit is based off of the article "Pyramid-Like Company Ponies Up $1 million for Mitt Romney" as well as tweets from the magazine's editor Monika Bauerlein and reporter Stephanie Mencimer. It asks for up to $74,999 in damages.
Thomas Clare, an attorney for Melaleuca and VanderSloot, argued Friday that requests for 150-minute depositions from four individuals - including Bauerlein and Mencimer - should be met before Mother Jones' motion to dismiss the lawsuit can be decided.
According to court records, Mother Jones' attorneys filed a motion in March to dismiss the lawsuit because of a lack of jurisdiction and other complaints.
Williamson said the attorneys can expect a decision on whether the depositions can be collected early next week.
During Friday's proceedings, Clare said Mencimer's affidavit, or sworn statement of fact, states she made periodic telephone calls and sent emails to people in the state of Idaho.
The lawsuit alleges Mencimer did not try to contact VanderSloot or any other Meleluca representative for comment on the article.
"That begs a number of questions," Clare said. "How periodic were those telephone calls? How many of them? What were their (purposes)? Did they relate to the articles for the newsgathering efforts that are at issue with this case?
"Unless we take a deposition, we don't have any way to know what periodic telephone calls means."
Mother Jones' attorney James Chadwick argued the depositions should not be collected because VanderSloot failed to obtain a leave of court, or permission to do something in court that's normally not allowed, as required by law.
Clare said the attorneys also will seek depositions for the case from Mother Jones' CEO Madeleine Buckingham and Robert Wise, its online technology director.
Along with Bauerlein and Mencimer, Buckingham and Wise provided affidavits in support of dismissing the lawsuit.