Hunter Accused of Killing Upright Bear Sues for Defamation

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) -

A hunter who says he was falsely accused online of killing a New Jersey black bear that walked upright on its hind legs and became an internet celebrity has sued six social media posters.

John DeFilippo’s attorney filed the suit Tuesday in state Superior Court. It seeks undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages for defamation and invasion of privacy.

The suit stems from the apparent death of the bear Pedals during the first part of this year’s bear hunt.

“The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, but not all speech,” DeFilippo’s attorney, Wolfgang Robinson, said in a statement. “There is no such thing as a constitutional right to make false statements about others. The defendants that have been named in this lawsuit falsely stated that my client harvested Pedals the Bear. He did not.”

The suit states that online pages devoted to Pedals named DeFilippo as Pedals’s killer, and some stated people would be “gunnin” for DeFilippo and he “would get his due.”

The defendants allegedly posted pictures of DeFilippo’s home and provided information about his employment and family members.