TRAVERSE CITY The decision is exactly what Michael Moore expected.

The filmmaker and part-time northern Michigan resident has never lost a lawsuit, he said, and a recent unanimous federal appeals court ruling that he did not defame an Iraq war veteran featured in his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" came as no surprise.

"The only thing about it that might be surprising is it was a decision by three Republican-appointed judges ... and they sided with me," Moore said Thursday. "After 17 years of people disagreeing with me politically and suing me they should get the message. If it is in a film of mine, it is true."

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a federal judge was correct to throw out Sgt. Peter Damon's lawsuit against Moore, who used a clip from a television interview without Damon's permission.

The National Guardsman from Middleborough, Mass., alleged he was humiliated and emotionally distressed due to his appearance in Moore's scathing 2004 documentary that criticized the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.

But an appeals court judge said while she can understand Damon's anger, the clip could not reasonably be construed as defamatory.

Judge Aida Delgado-Colon said, "There is no reason to believe that a reasonable member of the military or veteran community would conclude that Damon's appearance in the documentary conveyed a defamatory meaning, and therefore lowered his reputation or subjected him to scorn, hatred, ridicule or contempt in that community."

Two members of the three-judge panel were appointed by President Bush.

"The thing that gets lost in all this is the point that part of the film was making is the soldiers weren't being treated well at Walter Reed hospital," Moore said. "It took the mainstream media until last year to cover this story."

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