Michael Moore has bowled over another legal challenge.
The firebrand filmmaker was on the winning end of a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio that reaffirmed an earlier decision by a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by James Nichols, brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, accusing Moore of libeling him in his Oscar-winning 2002 documentary, Bowling for Columbine.
The three-judge panel refused on Tuesday to overturn U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman was well within bounds to toss the case after determining that Moore's statements in the film about James Nichols were "factual and substantially true."
"[The plaintiff] has not presented any evidence indicating that Michael Moore intended to falsely implicate James Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing," the appellate court said in the unanimous opinion.
Nichols, a Michigan soybean farmer, sued over scenes in Columbine that he claims wrongly suggested he had a part involved in the Apr. 19, 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and was the worst terror attack on U.S. soil until 9/11. Authorities eventually arrested, tried and convicted two men in the case, Timothy McVeigh, who was put to death in 2001, and Terry Nichols, who's currently serving two life sentences without parole.
James Nichols was arrested as well and held for 32 days after being indicted on charges of aiding the suspects by allowing them to do bomb detonation tests on his farm. Prosecutors ultimately declined to charge him due to lack of evidence.
Moore's attorney, Herschel Fink, said his client was pleased with the decision.
"I know that Michael was very concerned with his reputation being challenged in terms of his accuracy and was gratified that the court had found that his reporting about Nicols' statements were true," Fink told E! Online.
Nichols claimed in his suit that his temporary incarceration had nothing to do with the Oklahoma tragedy and Moore defamed him by saying, "The feds didn't have the goods on James."
However, Fink said that both the district court and appeals court found Moore's statements were true. Both courts also determined Nichols was a public figure (which would mean he has a higher standard to prove libel) who had written a book about his brother and had offered what Fink termed "wild conspiracy theories" that the government was somehow behind the Oklahoma City bombing.
Nichols' attorney, Stefani Godsey, said she and her client were considering filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, a notion Fink shot down.
"This case is frankly a no-brainer. There's just no issue here," he said. "It's just silliness. They can do it, but I doubt that they will."
Moore's been on a legal hot streak of late.
Last December, he won an appeals court decision in another case, when a Boston-based federal judge tossed a lawsuit filed by a veteran of the war in Iraq who accused Moore of manipulating a TV interview to make it seem like the soldier was bashing President Bush and his military policies.
Meanwhile, Moore is currently in post-production on Sicko, a scathing examination of the country's health-care industry due out in June. He's also working on a follow-up to his 2004 monster hit documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, focusing on the Bush administration's policy struggles at home and abroad.