US Court of Appeals Upholds Dismissal of Lawsuit in Ames v ARRL Case

A lawsuit filed by former ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Section Manager Joseph Ames, W3JY, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, against ARRL and several of its officers and Board members was dismissed with prejudice by the United States District Court in Philadelphia in December 2016.

Ames filed an appeal of that decision, and on November 11, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the suit.

This one was always a head scratcher. It started in 2016 when the ARRL Board of Directors relieved ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Section Manager Joe Ames, W3JY, of his appointments in the ARRL Field Organization, including his position as Chairman of the ARRL National Traffic System™ Eastern Area.

He was out and a new SM was selected to replace him. The ARRL said Ames had “repeatedly communicated with officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on behalf of NTS, making commitments on behalf of ARRL without authority and in violation of the rules and regulations of the ARRL Field Organization”.

Ames filed suit because of the ARRL’s use of the word “repeatedly”. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the suit.

In its opinion, the appellate court wrote, “because the record shows that Ames acted contrary to [an] August 2015 directive on at least two occasions, the [ARRL’s] statement that Ames ‘repeatedly acted contrary’ to the directive is true and cannot support a claim for defamation.