The court cases are not represented accurately.
The denialist Stefan Lanka promised to pay 100 000 Euros to anyone that provided him proof that a measles virus causing the illness exists.
Soon after a Mr David Bardens sent 6 publications to Lanka doing just that. Lanka refused to pay out. In 2014 Bardens sued him and the local court (Landgericht Ravensburg) sentenced Lanka to pay. Bardens had to hire bodyguards for fear of anti vaccination fanatics.
Of course Lanka wasn't happy to be proven wrong and forced to pay. So he appealed that decision. And won this. Because his competition offer was formulated so "that someone please sent him just one scientific article that proves that measles exist". Bardens sent 6 so Lanka won this time on technicalities, although for fear of jail he did pay in the meantime.
The term "just one" is used here to clarify how Lanka surely meant his challenge and how everyone including Bardens understood it. The German eine is ambiguous as an indefinite article or a numeral. That Lanka wanted one and just one single paper, containing all criteria Lanka demanded fulfilled at the same time, only came up in court.
The chronology of the antics of this case up to that point are documented here:
The Bardens vs Lanka Case | Chronolgy and documentation
This time Bardens apealed that decision and unfortunately the highest court Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice) rejected that appeal on Jan 26 2017, so that the previous decision on prize competition technicalities still stands.
The formalities of the 'competition' were set by Lanka:1
Anders als bei einer Wette oder einer Preisausschreibung hätte Lanka die Regeln bei der Auslobung selber bestimmen können – so die Frage, welche Artikel als Nachweis akzeptiert wurden. „Sie hätten aber auch 600 einreichen können, er hätte keine akzeptiert“, sagte der Vorsitzende Richter zu Bardens. (In contrast to a bet or a competition, Lanka defined the rules of this Auslobung on what kind of evidence would be acceptable or not. "You could have presented 600 pieces of evidence as well, and he would not have accepted any of them." explained the presiding judge.)
Never did any court of justice in these cases uphold "that the measles virus didn't exist". To the contrary: the publications sent by Bardens were deemed by the judges and their expert consultants to provide the proof – but only when read together did they meet all requirements as formulated by Lanka.
Reading the ruling further highlights how outrageously comic the experts consulted found2 all other statements emanating from Lanka regarding the matter at hand and his "scientific" arguments.
Quotes from the court ruling:
„Das Preisgeld wird ausgezahlt, wenn eine wissenschaftliche Publikation vorgelegt wird, in der die Existenz des Masern-Virus nicht nur behauptet, sondern auch bewiesen und darin u. a. dessen Durchmesser bestimmt ist.“
(Quoting the competition rules as set forth by Lanka. Highlighting that one scientific publication was required. Translation: "The prize money is paid when one scientific publication is presented in which the existence of the measles virus is not only asserted, but also proved, and among others the diameter of the virus is to be determined.")
Im Ergebnis hat die Berufung, soweit sie zulässig ist, jedenfalls Erfolg, weil das Kriterium der Auslobung, den Beweis der Existenz des Masernvirus durch „eine wissenschaftliche Publikation“ zu führen, durch den Kläger nicht erfüllt wurde.
(Stating the appeal was succesful because the exact wording was calling for a single scientific publication. Translation: "As a result, the appeal, in so far as it is admissible, is successful in any event, since the criterion of the claim to prove the existence of the measles virus by 'one scientific publication' has not been fulfilled by the applicant.")
The Stuttgart judges commentating the ruling publicly :
However, this is by no means to be understood as confirmation of the theories of Lanka, according to the court: "It is by no means the opinion of the court that a measles virus does not exist". And addressed to the members of the press the presiding judge said: "Watch your headlines."
1 Further explanation: Scientific journal articles are usually very space constrained and tend to focus on answering one research question (sound familiar?). The trick for going scot free here was that from the beginning the diameter was called for. – For example in an article that describes and explains the complete decoding and analysis of the virus' genome there usually would be no need and no room for a dropping that states the measurement of the diameter as well.
Since Lanka still claims there is no proof whatsoever, (no shred of a piece of real evidence to be found anywhere) his bet, as originally formulated, has to be read so that he lost that bet thoroughly and decisively. Only the exact fulfilment of later specified competition rules was 'on trial'. (Bardens got those specified after he asked Lanka if he was serious about this.) And even those rules where so sloppily phrased that his lawyer only convincingly applied higher forms of grammatical precision interpretation in the second round.
2 That link goes to a page controlled by Lanka and contains the reproduction and transcript of the first trial expert consultation in court. The expert explains to the court details from his assessment of the papers submitted and also some fundamentals of biology and virology to the lawyers, and Lanka. That is quite remarkable because Lanka now keeps telling his followers that he has now legal proof that no viruses exit at all. Although Lanka got his diploma and PhD in biology by describing an algae attacking virus and acknowledging its pathogenic potential. Many videos on YouTube to witness that: Asked how measles outbreaks in schools can be explained, he now says measles are caused by e.g. lack of hugging ("knuddeln") from teachers! Basically, he indirectly states himself that all his credentials as a biologist were acquired by means of a huge error.