Business Torts

Ezzo v. Google

Date: 

03/17/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Google, Inc.; AOL.com; Time Warner, Inc.; GetMeQuotes.com; FindCosmeticSurgeons.com; DoctorsSayYes.com; My Choice Medical Acquisition Sub Inc.; FindYourPlasticsurgeon.com; Baskettcase Web Development; IEnhance.com; PlasticSurgery.com; PlasticSurgery.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization
Large Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida

Case Number: 

2:09-cv-159

Legal Counsel: 

James Anthony Bombulie; James M. Miller; Samuel S. Heywood

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Jamil E. Ezzo, who holds a Supplemental Register trademark in the phrase "Locate Plastic Surgeon," sued Google, AOL.com, various plastic-surgery websites, and other defendants over their alleged use of the phrase.  Ezzo's Supplemental Register trademark is a federally-registered trademark that does not carry all of the legal protections enjoyed by full-fledged trademarks in the Principal Register.

Ezzo's pro se Complaint accuses the defendants of profiting through the improper use of his trademark.  Though the specifics of the defendants' alleged actions are not clear, it appears that Ezzo takes issue with the websites' use of the phrase in keyword advertising.  Ezzo's primary legal claim is fraud; he does not bring direct claims of trademark infringement.  The fraud appears to arise from occasions when the defendants' allegedly "fraudulently induced plaintiff to enter into the written and oral agreements," though the complaint does not describe the substance of these agreements.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Source: Marc Randazza/CMLP Blog

Jurisdiction: 

Lennar Corporation v. Minkow

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

09/19/2008

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Barry Minkow; Fraud Discovery Institute, Inc.; Briarwood Capital, LLC; Nicolas Marsch III; Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County (Florida)

Case Number: 

08-55741 CA 10

Legal Counsel: 

Richard Smith and Evan Roberts - Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Lennar Corporation and Lennar Homes of California, Inc. filed a lawsuit in Florida state court against Barry Minkow, the Fraud Discovery Institute, Inc., Briarwood Capital, LLC, Nicolas Marsch III, and several unnamed defendants. Lennar alleged that Minkow, acting in concert with the other defendants, published defamatory statements on websites (lenn-ron.com and frauddiscovery.net), in a YouTube video, and press releases, all falsely accusing the company of accounting improprieties. 

The complaint includes claims for libel, deceptive and unfair trade practices, tortious interference, fraud and extortion, and alleges that Marsch engaged Minkow and Fraud Discovery Institute to publish false information about it as part of an ongoing dispute between Marsch and Lennar.

The case is ongoing.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

RPK

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Google News

iXL Enterprises v. Doe

Date: 

11/13/2000

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia

Case Number: 

2000CV30567

Legal Counsel: 

Jeffrey Sodko, Robert Giolito, Paul Alan Levy, Allison Zieve, Alan B. Morrison

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

iXL Enterprises, an Internet consulting company, sued to obtain the identity of an anonymous internet poster who criticized the company on a Yahoo! message board.  iXL claimed that the defendant was an iXL employee, and that the internet postings violated his/her employment agreement.   

iXL obtained a subpoena to force Yahoo! to reveal the identity of the anonymous user.  The Doe defendant moved to quash the subpoena, arguing that he/she was not an iXL employee and that the First Amendment protected his/her right to speak anonymously.  According to cyberSLAPP.org, "the case was not pursued to decision" because iXL went out of business. 

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Nam Tai v. Yahoo! Inc.

Date: 

02/01/2001

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Yahoo! Inc.

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Large Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

Nam Tai Electronics, Inc., a Hong Kong-based electronics company, subpoenaed Yahoo! Inc. in connection with a lawsuit against 51 "John Doe" defendants alleging libel, trade libel, and violations of California's unfair business practices statute.  The lawsuit revolved around negative comments about Nam Tai posted to a Yahoo! message board pertaining to Nam Tai. After filing the complaint, Nam Tai obtained a subpoena in California directing Yahoo! to disclose its subscriber data (IP address) for "scovey2," one of the anonymous forum posters.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Jurisdiction: 

Nam Tai v. AOL

Date: 

03/19/2001

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

America Online, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Large Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Loudon County, Virginia; Virginia Supreme Court

Case Number: 

No. 012761 (Va. Sup. Ct.)

Legal Counsel: 

Laura A. Heymann - AOL; Patrick J. Carome, Samir Jain - Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

Nam Tai Electronics, Inc., a Hong Kong-based electronics company, subpoenaed AOL in connection with a lawsuit against 51 "John Doe" defendants alleging libel, trade libel, and violations of California's unfair business practices statute.  The lawsuit revolved around negative comments about Nam Tai posted to a Yahoo! message board pertaining to Nam Tai. 

After filing the complaint, Nam Tai obtained a subpoena in California directing Yahoo! to disclose its subscriber data (IP address) for "scovey2," one of the anonymous forum posters.  Based on this information, Nam Tai determined that "scovey2" obtained his Internet access through AOL.   Nam Tai then obtained a "commission" for out-of-state discovery from the California court to depose AOL's custodian of records in Virginia, in order to seek identifying information for "scovey2."  Nam Tai asked a Virginia state trial court to issue a subpoena, and AOL moved to quash the subpoena. 

The trial court denied AOL's motion to quash, concluding that it would enforce the California "commission" and reasoning that First Amendment concerns implicated by the libel and trade libel claims were not implicated by the California unfair business practices claim.  The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed, relying heavily on the principle of "comity" (that is, the respect states extend to the judgments of other states).  

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Subject Area: 

Oxford Round Table, Inc. v. Mahone

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

06/25/2007

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Sloan Mahone

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky

Case Number: 

3:07CV-330-H

Legal Counsel: 

Charles W. Chapman; Rodger W. Lofton

Publication Medium: 

Email
Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Oxford Round Table, Inc. ("ORT"), a Kentucky corporation that conducts educational conferences at various colleges within Oxford University, sued Oxford lecturer Sloan Mahone for defamation and tortious interference in federal court in Kentucky.  ORT claimed that Mahone posted defamatory statements on a forum on The Chronicle of Higher Education website.  According to court documents, in these postings Mahone criticized ORT's business operations, calling it a "scam" and a "misrepresentation."  Also, Mahone allegedly sent critical emails to a colleague at Oxford and a prospective participant in one of ORT's conferences. 

After ORT filed suit, Mahone moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The court granted the motion, finding that Mahone lacked the requisite minimum contacts with the State of Kentucky.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

User Submission Form

Subject Area: 

Matrixx Initiatives v. John Doe

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

12/12/2002

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John Doe; Steven Edward Dick; Sherry Jones; James Jones; Floyd D Schneider; Veritasconari; Censorshipmtxx; Janet Bossart

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Arizona Superior Court, Maricopa County

Case Number: 

CV2002-023934

Legal Counsel: 

Ivan Mathew (Sherry and James Jones); Pro Se (all others)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

Pharmaceutical company Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. sued several named and anonymous Internet users in Arizone state court over negative posts about the company on the Yahoo! Finance and Silicon Investor message boards.  Although the court filings for the case are not available, filings in related actions state that Matrixx brought claims of defamation, trade libel, and interference with contractual relations and business expectancies.  See Matrixx Initiatives v. Doe, 138 Cal.App.4th 872, 875 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006).  Matrixx alleged that it suffered "unusual" fluctuations in its stock as a result of the statements, including "relatively large-volume selling near the close of the market."  Id.

In an attempt to discern the identities of the anonymous users, Matrixx filed subpoenas against numerous individuals and organizations in other courts.  Two of these subpoenas are addressed in CMLP threat entries Matrixx Intiatives v. Barbary Coast Capital and Matrixx Initiatives v. Mulligan.  Matrixx also appears to have sought discovery in the Arizona court from Qwest Communications International Inc., but the details are not clear from the available record. 

According to the Arizona docket for the case, Matrixx voluntarily withdrew the case but reserved leave to refile at a later date.  The court granted the dismissal without prejudice on January 31, 2007.  As of December 04, 2008, Matrixx does not appear to have refiled the case.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

CyberSLAPP.org

Wilbanks v. Wolk

Date: 

07/05/2001

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Gloria Wolk (dba Bialkin Books)

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco; California Court of Appeals, First Appellate District

Case Number: 

CGC-01-322652 (trial), A101100 (appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

Philip R. Green (Law Offices of Green & Green); Wendy M. Lazerson (Holland & Knight); Thomas A. Trapani (Rankin Sproat & Pollack)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

Scott Wilbanks, a viatical settlement broker, filed a defamation and unfair business practices lawsuit against Gloria Wolk, a former insurance agent and author of books on viatical settlements (viaticals are arrangements that allow dying persons with life insurance policies to sell their policies to investors for a percentage of the death benefits). 

According to Wilbanks's complaint, Wolk defamed him and his company on her website Viatical & Life Settlements Consumer Information, which provides information about settlement brokers, by publishing the following statements:

  • Be very careful when dealing with this broker. Wilbanks and Assoc. is under investigation by the CA dept. of insurance. The complaint originated with a California viator who won a judgment against Wilbanks. How many others have been injured but didn’t have the strength to do anything about it?
  • The company is under investigation. Stay tuned for details.
  • Wilbanks and Associates provided incompetent advice.
  • Wilbanks and Associates is unethical.

Wolk moved to strike the defamation claim under California's anti-SLAPP statute.  The court granted her motion and awarded Wolk $7,000 in attorney fees and costs.

On August 17, 2004, the California Court of Appeals reversed, finding that Wilbanks had shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits of his claims.

Update:

The California Superior Court's electronic docket states that the case was dismissed with prejudice on August 18, 2005, following settlement discussions in chambers. 

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals v. Does

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

12/12/2000

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Angelawatch; Ben_casale; Dickie13_62301; Dogmad2002; Gpalcus (M/Cell Block 5); Hephdiver; Heph_long; Jarhed2046; Lebeausoleil,; Nottescurra; Onxbray; Does 1-50

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of California, San Diego County; California Court of Appeals for the Fourth Appellate District

Case Number: 

GIC 759462 (trial), D037907 (appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

Paul Alan Levy (Public Citizen Litigation Group); Charles A. Bird, Gregory D. Roper (Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)
Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals ("HEPH") sued several anonymous users of a Yahoo! forum in California state court for defamation, trade libel, and tortious interference after the posters criticized the company and its management on the Yahoo! Message Board devoted to the company.

According to filings in the case, HEPH identified several statements it claims were defamatory, including the following post by Gpalcus:

Nay Say Not?
by: gpalcus (M/Cell Block 5) 11/3/00 10:40 am
Msg: 15762 of 16806

This company has plainly and simply misserved its investors. Whatever secret wizardry the man/men/monkeys behind the curtain are doing, the value of our investment has not been attended with the same (if only purported) vigor. I don't know a god-damned thing that this company has perfected solidly except a creeping but constant value seep. Is it simply millennial blue smoke and mirrors; propped up by thrice rejected science.... OR rather, is it revolutionary science hindered by an extremely poorly constructed public face and the business acumen of infected macaques.... Either way, investors dollars have been poorly served - by veiled fraud or by incompetance. Certainly, with 'the goods' - even at a preliminary stage - a worthwhile business model should be able to at least find a price support level... IT SHOULD BE ONE OF THE COMPANY's PRIORITIES!

"Enough hyperbole! Enough whispered promise! Enough waiting for firmamnet".... that's what the market has been saying. ENOUGH DISDAIN FOR YOUR INVESTORS - that's my personal rant....

Compl. ¶¶ 12k, 16.  As to a statement by Dickie13, the complaint quotes him or her as stating: "Once again, in my opinion, the Public Relations Department of Hollis-Eden couldn't promote Mickey Mouse into Disneyland." Compl. ¶ 12d.

HEPH also subpoenaed Yahoo! to reveal the identities of the anonymous posters. Upon being notified of the subpoena by Yahoo!, defendants Gpalcus and Dickie13 filed a motion to strike HEPH's claims under California's anti-SLAPP law and to quash the subpoena it had issued to Yahoo!. 

On March 20, 2001, the court granted the motion, finding that HEPH failed to show a sufficient likelihood of success on its claim because the defendants' statements were merely statements of opinion and could not be deemed defamatory.  HEPH appealed the decision to the California Court of Appeals, but later withdrew its appeal before the court issued a decision.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Threat Source: 

Public Citizen

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Vision Media TV Group v. Richard

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

07/18/2008

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Leslie Richard, personally and d/b/a TheOkoBox.com

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Case Number: 

08-CV-80797

Legal Counsel: 

Judith Mary Mercier; Pro se

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Production company Vision Media TV (VMT) sued blogger Leslie Richard after she accused the company of scamming small businesses in her blog and on an Internet forum. VMT's complaint asked for $20 million in damages, alleging claims of defamation, tortious interference with business relationships, and trade libel.

Richard, owner of "green" fashion company The Oko Box, criticized VMT in the The Oko Box blog and Co-OP America's Green Business Network Lounge. According to the complaint, Richard's posts said that VMT representatives had offered to interview her for an educational television program on eco-fashion. Richard said the representatives claimed the program was part of an evironmental series featuring former "20/20" anchor Hugh Downs. After further discussions, VMT asked Richard to pay VMT $22,900 in production costs and $3,000 for airfare in order to appear on the program. Richard then allegedly wrote postings on her blog and Co-Op America calling VMT a scam and accusing it of taking advantage of small businesses. Richard also reported VMT to the Better Business Bureau.

VMT filed suit in a Florida federal court in July 2008. Richard, a North Carolina citizen, moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. The motion also sought, in the alternative, to transfer the case to federal court in North Carolina. Richard argued that the Florida court's exercise of jurisdiction over her would violate standards of "fair play and substantial justice" because Richard could not afford to appear in a Florida court and could not travel in any case because of a medical condition. Richard filed an affadavit from her doctor stating that she was medically unfit to travel.

On October 09, 2008, VMT voluntarily dismissed the complaint with prejudice. In return, Richard removed the posts regarding VMT from her blog.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Threat Source: 

Google News

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Atkinson v. McLaughlin (Letter)

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Date: 

10/22/2002

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

James McLaughlin; Roberta McLaughlin

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Legal Counsel: 

William Rittenberg

Publication Medium: 

Email
Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Lawsuit Filed

Description: 

Patrick Atkinson is the founder and executive director of the God's Child Project, a charitable organization that provides health and medical care, food, and education to children in Guatamala. Dr. James McLaughlin and Roberta McLaughlin volunteered for the God's Child Project from July 1997 to March 1998, at which time they were terminated from their volunteer positions. After their dismissal, the McLaughlins made a number of allegations against Atkinson with Guatamalan authorities.

According to court filings, the McLaughlins then returned to the United States and began emailing the Project's board members and supporters claiming that they had been improperly terminated and questioning Atkinson's ethics and character. They subsequently sent additional emails claiming that Atkinson had sexually abused two boys and issued a press release claiming that Atkinson had been arrested on chages of sexual abuse.

The McLaughlins also created a website called "Friends of Guatemalan Children" in November 1998.  According to court filings, they allegedly made statements on the website that suggested that Atkinson misued funds, lied, molested children, and committed criminal acts in Guatamala and the United States, all in connection with Atkinson's previous work for Covenant House, another charitable organization that operated in Guatamala. The McLaughlins also contacted the North Dakota Attorney General's Office concering Atkinson and the Project and repeated their previous accusations of criminal conduct.

In an effort to resolve the present dispute, Atkinson and the God’s Child Project attempted to contact the McLaughlins in October of 2002, to request that they retract their website. At the time the McLaughlins received notice of the letter they were traveling in Argentina and Brazil. On November 7, 2002, an attorney responded on behalf of the McLaughlins and asked what portions of the website were false or misleading. On February 24, 2003, an attorney for Atkinson responded and included a copy of Atkinson’s unfiled complaint.

On July 28, 2003, Atkinson sued the McLaughlins in federal court in North Dakota for defamation and interference with business relations.  For more information on the lawsuit, see the CMLP Database entry: Atkinson v. McLaughlin.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

CMLP Notes: 

Briefs in lawsuit alerted us to this letter threat.

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Court Filings

Matteo v. Rubin

Date: 

05/07/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Howard Rubin

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Case Number: 

1:07-cv-02536

Legal Counsel: 

Fred Rabinowitz (Schaffner, Rabinowitz & Feinartz)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

Professional photographer Steven Matteo sued Howard Rubin for defamation, copyright infringement, false light invasion of privacy, and interference with prospective economic advantage in Illinois federal court after Rubin posted criticism online of Matteo's photographs of the wedding of Rubin's daughter.  Rubin allegedly posted Matteo's photos, which Rubin said exemplified the problems with Matteo's work, and tried to dissuade other couples from hiring Matteo.

Rubin filed a motion to dismiss Matteo's case for failure to state a claim.  Rubin argued that Matteo failed to show copyright infringement because Rubin had permission to republish the photographs from his wife, who commissioned Matteo and had Matteo's permission to republish them.  In addition, Rubin said that Matteo had not shown he suffered financially from the alleged infringement or from the alleged interference.  Rubin argued that the defamation and false light claims were deficient because he had only stated his opinion about his personal dealings with Matteo. The court denied Rubin's motion, finding none of these arguments sufficient to justify dismissal.

The parties settled in April 2008.

CMLP Notes: 

Complaint not available in PACER due to its inclusion of photos (according to substitute 1-page doc on PACER).  Apparently only available through clerk's office.  Both Rubin's motion to dismiss and Rubin's answer include the original complaint, however.  (AAB)

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

FreeLife International v. Burge

Date: 

10/15/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

David Lucas Burge; Gary Boucherle; Noelle Boucherle; American Educational Music Publications, Inc. dba Clear Perceptions Marketing; WhoIs Privacy Protection Services, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal
State

Court Name: 

Superior Court, Maricopa County; United States District Court for the District of Arizona

Case Number: 

CV2007-018968 (state); 2:07-cv-2210 (federal)

Legal Counsel: 

Andrew S. Ashworth (all defendants)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

Direct sales company FreeLife International filed a defamation lawsuit against David Lucas Burge, a natural-foods activist whose website purported to expose FreeLife's health claims about its Himalayan Goji Juice drink. Burge's website, breathe.org, featured an in-depth investigative series that disputed FreeLife's contention that its goji drink retains enzymes that other goji drinks lack. FreeLife filed suit in Arizona state court in October 2007, and the defendants removed the case to federal district court in November. 

FreeLife also brought a breach of contract claim against Burge. FreeLife is a multi-level marketing company, and it operates primarily through person-to-person sales. It accomplishes this by allowing interested consumers to sell its goji drinks as "FreeLife Marketing Executives." The online sign-up process for the position includes a contractual provision precluding the signer from disparaging the company. Burge allegedly went through the sign-up process while gathering information on FreeLife and is bound by the provision, according to the company. 

FreeLife also named WhoIs Privacy Protection Services as a defendant. WhoIs is a company that allows website operators to hold domains anonymously by substituting its own contact information for theirs in domain registrations. FreeLife argued that WhoIs helped the operators of breathe.org to remain anonymous and thus assisted in the defamation. WhoIs was dismissed from the case on November 06, 2007, apparently by agreement of the parties.

Burge and the other remaining defendants, including Burge's company American Music Education (AME), filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court granted the motion with respect to Noelle Boucherle and denied it with respect to Burge. It determined that he had consented to Arizona jurisdiction as part of the terms of the marketing executive contract with FreeLife, and that jurisdiction was appropriate because Burge sufficiently targeted his speech at FreeLife, an Arizona corporation.

The court also dismissed the motion with respect to AME and AME employee Gary Boucherle, but it allowed them to re-file their motions after limited discovery. After completing this limited discovery, the parties agreed the claims against Gary Boucherle would be dismissed. When AME filed a renewed motion to dismiss, the court again denied the motion.

Update:

10/1/2009 - The court denied Burge's motion for summary judgment on the breach of contract claim and the defamation claim.  The court granted FreeLife's motion for summary judgment on Burge's counterclaim.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Immunomedics v. Doe

Date: 

10/12/2000

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jane Doe, aka "moonshine_fr"; John Does 1 - 10; John Foe aka "bioledger"; John Foes 2 - 10

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of New Jersey, Morris County; Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Divison

Case Number: 

L-003085-00 (trial); A-2762-00T1 (appeals)

Legal Counsel: 

Steven B. Stein (Stein & Stein)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

Pharmaceutical company Immunomedics sued "moonshine_fr," a company employee who allegedly posted confidential internal documents on a Yahoo! Finance message board, and several John Does in New Jersey state court on claims of breach of contract, breach of duty of loyalty, and negligently revealing confidential and proprietary information.

Soon after filing its complaint, Immunomedics amended it to include claims of defamation and tortious interference with economic gain against a second anonymous poster, "bioledger." In the amended complaint, it also accused moonshine_fr of continuing to reveal company information online, including product shortages in Europe and the imminent firing of the company's "european [sic] manager."  While Immunomedics admitted that moonshine_fr's online allegations were true, it claimed that her posting of them was a violation of the company's confidentiality agreement and employment provisions.

Immunomedics subpoenaed Yahoo! to determine moonshine_fr's true identity.  Yahoo! notified moonshine_fr of the subpoena, and she moved to quash it. The trial court denied her motion, and she appealed.

The appellate court affirmed the lower court's ruling.  Using the test established in Dendrite International, Inc. v. John Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001), the court determined that Immunomedics had produced sufficient evidence to support its claim that moonshine_fr was an employee and was thus subject to the company's confidentiality agreement. Without extensive analysis, the court also concluded that Immunomedics's need to identify moonshine_fr in order to enforce its confidentiality agreement outweighed her right to speak anonymously.

It is not clear what happened after the appellate court's decision.

CMLP Notes: 

Case citation: 775 A.2d 773.

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Shy v. Dylan

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

06/17/2008

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Alan Dylan; Jessica Jordan; Does 1-100

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles

Case Number: 

BC392796

Legal Counsel: 

Jamey Leonard (First Amendment Project)

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On June 17, 2008, Barry Shy, a Los Angeles real estate developer, and his development company, 5th St Loft, sued Jessica Jordan and Alan Dylan, who reside in a building developed by Shy and allegedly run the website Truedowntown, the "unofficial" site for the Shybary Grand Loft in Los Angeles.  The lawsuit claims that Jordan and Dylan libeled Shy and damaged his businesses by making disparaging comments about him.

Jordan and Dylan are both owners of units in the SB Grand, a prominent development in downtown Los Angeles.  Jordan also runs the website  Truedowntown, which she created to "inspire positive change at the Shybary Grand by identifying issues that need to be dealt with by the board and management company, especially if those issues have ignored California Law." (The suit claims that Dylan also is connected with the website, but Jordan has stated that is incorrect).

According to plaintiffs' complaint, Jordan and Dylan made the following disparaging statements about Shy:

a) Barry Shy is a criminal
b) Barry Shy is a "slum lord"
c) Barry Shy is "dishonest" and only cares about "making a profit"
d) "Do Not Buy or Rent from Barry Shy you will regret it"
e) Barry Shy has broken Federal Laws
f) Barry Shy is a horrible business man with no principals

Although the complaint does not identify where the statements appeared, Blogdowntown, a site that describes itself as a "central point for news and discussion of Downtown Los Angeles," noted that all of the statements were drawn from comments on that site's March of 2006 story about Shy's purchase of buildings in Los Angeles' historic core.  Some of these statements were posted psuedonymously, which likely explains why Shy also named "Does 1-100" as defendants in the suit.

Update:

A case management conference has been schedule for 11/04/2008 at 08:45 am in department 28 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

CMLP Notes: 

via RCFP RSS feed

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

RSS

Wargo v. Lavandeira

Date: 

07/14/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Mario Lavandeira, dba PerezHilton.com and Perez Hilton; John Does

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal
State

Court Name: 

Court of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County, Ohio; United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio

Case Number: 

CV 08 664752; 1:08-CV-2035

Legal Counsel: 

Bryan J. Freedman - Freedman & Taitelman

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Diane Wargo sued Mario Lavandeira, also known as Perez Hilton, and 25 anonymous PerezHilton.com posters in Ohio state court after Lavandeira published an email containing homophobic slurs that Wargo sent to the blog from her work email account.

The posted version of the email included Wargo's full name, work email address, and the name of her employer. Wargo's employer fired her after it became aware of the email and received harassing emails and telephone calls. Wargo's complaint alleges that publishing her personal information violated PerezHilton.com's terms of use and privacy policy.

In the lawsuit, Wargo seeks $25 million in damages on thirteen claims, including invasion of privacy through publication of private facts, breach of contract, fraud, negligence, defamation, and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Wargo also seeks a preliminary injunction against Lavandeira to prevent him from publicizing her personal information on his website.

Update:

08/27/08 - Case was removed to the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio

10/03/08 - Court granted Lavandeira's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and entered judgment against Wargo.

 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Updated 2/3/09 - VAF

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Google Blogs

Ohlsen v. Hollenbeck

Date: 

02/15/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joel S. Hollenbeck; Paul McElligott

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

St. Louis County Circuit Court

Case Number: 

08SL-CC00705

Legal Counsel: 

Jonathan Marks

Publication Medium: 

Forum
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

Milton Ohlsen, who runs a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight promotion company, sued Joel S. Hollenbeck and Paul McElligott for defamation and tortious interference after they allegedly made false statements about him on the Internet.

According to the complaint, Hollenback operates a website called Who is Milton H. Ohlsen III?, which contains statements that Ohlsen is a "federally convicted felon for dealing drugs" and an unethical businessman, among other things. See Cmplt. ¶¶ 10-25.  The website includes photographs purporting to be "police booking photograph[s]" and numberous public records allegedly showing that Ohlsen has a criminal history.

The complaint alleges that McElligott, using the pseudonym "kracker," posted defamatory statements about Ohlsen on a MySpace forum, indicating that he "does not pay his labor" and was under investigation by federal authorities. Cmplt. ¶ 33. It also alleges that McElligot posted a link to Mr. Hollenbeck's website, claiming that the site was a source of "facts about Milton 'Skip' Ohlsen." Cmplt. ¶ 35.

Ohlsen, who claimed the defendants had financially harmed his MMA promotion company and caused his divorce, sued in February 2008 in Missouri state court.  In March 2008, he voluntarily withdrew his claims.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Deep Blue Marine v. Krajewski

Date: 

05/20/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Edward Krajewski; John Does 1 - 10

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Utah

Case Number: 

2:08-cv-00405-TC

Legal Counsel: 

Pro se

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)
Injunction Issued

Description: 

Deep Blue Marine, its CEO Wilf Blum, and Alexander Lindale LLC sued former Deep Blue operations manager Edward Krajewski after Krajewski criticized the plaintiffs and allegedly disclosed Deep Blue proprietary information on several online investor forums. The plaintiffs sought an injunction in Utah federal court against Krajewski to prevent him from posting any further criticism or materials. They also brought claims for defamation, false light, intentional interference with economic advantage, breach of contract (including publication of trade secrets), and breach of convenant of good faith.

In May 2008, Deep Blue moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Krajewski. The court decided the motion ex parte after satisfying itself that Krajewski had received notice of the hearing. It granted the motion, issuing an order prohibiting Krajewski from

  1. publishing statements concerning trade secrets, confidential, and/or proprietary information of Deep Blue . . . , including but not limited to methods, processes, discussions, plans, techniques, equipment, locations, discoveries, recovered materials, research projects, sources of supplies, financial data and marketing, contract amounts and/or salaries, corporate income, disbursements, expenditures, and/or merchandising systems or plans of Deep Blue; and

  2. publishing false and/or defamatory statements regarding Deep Blue Marine, Wilf Blum, and/or Alexander Lindale, and/or their agents, employees or affiliates.

In July 2008, Krajewski, acting pro se, filed a motion for an extension of time to file a brief. He also submitted an affidavit explaining that he lacked sufficient financial resources to litigate the case in Utah and requesting that the court transfer the case to Pennsylvania, his home state. On July 22, the court denied the motion for an extension of time to file a brief, noting that Krajewski did not identify what motion he would be addressing and that no motions were currently pending. The court added that Krajewski could inititiate a motion and file a brief in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the local rules.

Update:

1/15/2009 - Action dismissed without prejudice subject to parties' settlement agreement  

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Nationwide Relocation Services v. Walker

Date: 

07/11/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Tim Walker; Consumers First Corp.; Sharon Bayolo; Farrah Leigh Wanner; Dorthy Mull; "Diane"; Does 1-150

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Case Number: 

0:07-CV-60983

Legal Counsel: 

Angie A. Chen (for Walker and Consumers First Corp.); Joshua Aaron Payne (Geary & Payne) (for Walker and Consumers First Corp.); pro se (Bayolo)

Publication Medium: 

Forum
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

Moving company Nationwide Relocation Services ("Nationwide") sued Tim Walker, Walker's company, Consumers First Corp., which runs the MovingScam.com website, and several contributors to the MovingScam.com forum after Walker and the other contributors criticized the company's services. According to the complaint, the website used the trademarks of Nationwide and other moving companies without permission and published statements indicating that Nationwide engaged in "scams," while at the same time trying to induce customers to purchase moving-related products and services from the site and its advertisers. Nationwide sued for false advertising, trademark infringement, unfair competition, defamation, and tortious interference with business relationships in Florida federal court.

Defendants Sharon Bayolo and Farrah Leigh Wanner each moved to dismiss, Bayolo for lack of jurisidiction and Wanner for failure to state a claim.  As a result, Nationwide amended its complaint, and the court denied the motions as moot. 

In October 2007, Walker and Consumers First moved to dismiss for improper venue, failure to state a claim, and lack of personal jurisdiction.  The court denied the motions, finding that Walker and Consumers First specifically targeted the Southern District of Florida in operation of the website, thereby establishing jurisdiction and venue, and that Nationwide's claims were sufficiently stated.

In April 2008, Nationwide amended its complaint again, and the defendants Walker, Consumer First, and Wanner filed an answer.

Update:

8/6/2008 - The parties settled the case.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Three Angels Broadcasting v. Joy

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

04/06/2007

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Gailon Arthur Joy; Robert Pickle

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Case Number: 

4:07-cv-40098

Legal Counsel: 

Pro se

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Three Angels Broadcasting Network ("3ABN"), a non-denominational Christian TV and radio ministry with ties to Seventh-Day Adventism, and Danny Lee Shelton, 3ABN's president and one of its founders, sued Gailon Arthur Joy and Robert Pickle for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, defamation, and tortious interference with business relations, after Joy and Pickle launched a website at save3abn.com (archived at save-3abn.com), which criticized Shelton and the ministry.

3ABN owns a registered trademark for "3ABN" and uses the mark in the domain names and titles of several websites, including its primary website, 3ABN.org.  Joy and Pickle, both of whom are Seventh-Day Adventists, launched their site to publicize their concerns about 3ABN and its management. According to the complaint, their website contained information "antithetical to 3ABN's message" and allegedly published false statements claiming that 3ABN and its president engaged in certain ethical, financial, administrative, and operational improprieties. In the lawsuit, 3ABN and Shelton claim that these statements are defamatory, and that use of "3ABN" in the website's title and domain name infringed and diluted the ministry's trademark rights.

As of July 2008, the parties were engaged in discovery.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

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