Mich. Student Chris Armstrong Wins $4.5M Against Attorney Andrew Shirvell Over Defamation Case

Posted Aug 18, 2012

Andrew Shirvell

Andrew Shirvell is a former assistant attorney general that refused to apologize to a gay student leader named Chris Armstrong at the University of Michigan. Shirvell defamed Armstrong and harassed him online and on campus. Now Shirvell has been ordered to pay $4.5 million to Armstrong based on a jury decision.

Shirvell created a blog called the “Chris Armstrong Watch.” The blog of 32-year-old Shirvell openly accused Armstrong of enticing minors with alcohol and recruiting people to become homosexuals. Armstrong, 22, filed a lawsuit against Shirvell to say that he suffered distress as a result of the blog.

“I’m just incredibly humbled by what happened today,” said Armstrong earlier this week. “This is truly a victory, not just for myself, but for a lot of other kids out there.”

On his blog, Shirvell wrote that Armstrong was a “radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist, and liar.” Armstrong’s attorney Deborah Gordon also said that Shirvell wrote that Armstrong participated in sexual acts on a children’s playground, inside of a church, and hosted orgies.

Chris Armstrong

Shirvell followed Armstrong on Facebook and read which events he was attending. Then he showed up to Armstrong’s house several times and called the police to report a party that Armstrong was attending. He followed that up with a blog post that said “Ann Arbor police raided out of control gay party.”

Gordon reported to ABC News that she did not present the jury with anything on the blog that could be considered opinion, but showed the court that everything could be proved as false. Shirvell did not call one witness during the trial and tried to wrap himself completely around the First Amendment.

Shirvell was warned about the lawsuit. Gordon said that the lawsuit would have been dropped if he retracted his statements. Since the jury could not force Shirvell to apologize, the $4.5 million in damages took its place.

Shirvell was fired by former Attorney General Mike Cox after criticizing Armstrong in 2010. Shirvell has been unemployed since then and does not have any means to pay such a large settlement.