Minnesota Lawyer: Michelle MacDonald’s lawsuit ‘may lack factual basis’

The lawsuit filed by Michelle MacDonald against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota “may lack factual basis” according to an article published by Minnesota Lawyer.

Two of three key claims in lawyer Michelle MacDonald’s defamation lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and his muckraking website appear unfounded, Minnesota Lawyer has learned.

Meanwhile Brodkorb, who accuses MacDonald of trying to squelch his First Amendment rights as a journalist, asserts that a third allegation in her suit also is factually inaccurate. Minnesota Lawyer could not independently verify that.

The article by Minnesota Lawyer exposes fundamental weaknesses in MacDonald’s lawsuit, which has been described as “frivolous and vexatious” by Nathan Hansen, the attorney for Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota.

Lakeville police: MacDonald labeled a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Rucki sisters

In her lawsuit, MacDonald falsely claims that I labeled her as a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki when it was the Lakeville Police Department. Minnesota Lawyer spoke with the Lakeville Police Department, and they confirmed MacDonald was labeled a “person of interest” as reported by numerous media outlets, including Missing in Minnesota.

Meanwhile, a Lakeville Police investigator confirmed Thursday morning that investigators initially did consider MacDonald a “person of interest” in the children’s disappearance.

“We believed that she was in the know,” said Lakeville Police Lt. Jason Polinski. Investigators based that suspicion on MacDonald’s “statements and actions” at the time, believing she wasn’t “upfront” about what she knew.

“We believed she was involved and knew what was going on,” Polinski said Thursday. “However, we could never prove that. So she was never a suspect. But, yes, she was a person of interest.”

Law enforcement confirms the validity of booking photo of MacDonald

MacDonald is suing in part over the publication of the booking photo from her arrest during a court hearing involving Sandra Grazzini-Rucki on September 12, 2013.

According to a police report from May 24, 2018, provided by the Eagan Police Department, MacDonald told police that Brodkorb took a picture of MacDonald in public, doctored it to look like a mugshot and uploaded it to a mugshot website. The Eagan Police Department investigated MacDonald’s claims and found them unfounded. The report states: “the photo turned out to be a valid public booking photo.”

Minnesota Lawyer further confirmed with the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office that the image was a booking photo.

MacDonald admits a photo was taken after that incident, but that she was never “booked” into custody, despite spending the night in jail. Therefore, Brodkorb and his site defame her reputation by repeatedly calling it a “booking photo” or “mug shot,” she says.

“I would check into that a little bit,” MacDonald said Wednesday. “Because I am telling you that’s a lie.”

She appears to be incorrect. On Thursday morning, a Dakota County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson found the same image on the county jail’s booking photo database. The image, which the county spokesperson confirmed is a booking shot, was forwarded to Minnesota Lawyer.

“The photograph is not a mug shot,” MacDonald insists. “[Brodkorb] had that surface. It had never surfaced before.”

Click here to read the complete article by Minnesota Lawyer.

MacDonald’s lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in Dakota County on Monday, but the lawsuit is still active in Ramsey County.

Please follow Missing in Minnesota on Twitter and Facebook for updates on MacDonald’s lawsuit.

Allison Mann contributed to this story.

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