Defamation

Devenyns v. Albero

Date: 

07/24/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joseph Albero

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Wicomico County

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

A Maryland prison director filed a defamation lawsuit against Maryland political blogger Joseph Albero for allowing an allegedly defamatory user comment to appear on his website. Douglas Devenyns claims an anonymous commenter on Albero's Salisbury News blog falsely stated he was a "sexual predator" who shortened female inmates sentences in exchange for sex, according to The Daily Times.

According to Delmarva Dealings, the suit seeks $150,000 in damages. The complaint tries to get around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by arguing that Albero is liable for the comment because he determines which comments to publish and whether he will edit them first.

Update:

9/10/2009 - Albero filed a motion to dismiss under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  He argues that the act protects third parties even if they perform some editorial functions.  

11/30/2009 - The court granted Albero's motion for summary judgment.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

likely section 230 case

CMF - 8/5/09

Jurisdiction: 

Doe v. Dirty World Entertainment

Date: 

05/06/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Dirty World Entertainment; Hooman Karamian, d/b/a Nik Richie

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Legal Counsel: 

David Gingras

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

An anonymous Texas woman has filed suit in state court against the operator of The Dirty, self-described as the "first and most famous reality gossip blog," for allegedly lending credence to a third-party comment on the site that showed her picture and accused her of having herpes. According to True/Slant, the suit alleges the third-party poster asked the blog's founder, Hooman Karamian, if he would still sleep with the woman — to which Karamian allegedly replied, "No, I don't want to get infected."

According to the ABA Journal, the suit also names as a defendant Dirty World Entertainment, the Arizona-based owner of the website. The ABA Journal also reports that the plaintiff will argue the defendants should not be protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because Karamian allegedly made comments that validated the third-party post. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

7/26/09- AVM- 230 case, nothing on wl

7/31/09 - CMF updated

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Quest Diagnostics v. Mercola

Date: 

05/29/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joseph Mercola

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court, District of New Jersey

Case Number: 

09-CV-2632

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Quest Diagnostics, a medical diagnostic testing company, sued Joseph Mercola, who runs the Natural Health Center along with a couple of related websites, over articles critical of Quest that were allegedly published by Mercola on one of his websites. 

Quest alleged that that the articles contained false and defamatory information, stating that its tests are "inaccurate and unreliable" and have "caused some dialysis patients to undergo unnecessary surgery," while advocating on behalf of LabCorp, one of Quest's competitors.  (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12, 14-15.)  Advertisements for Mercola's products and services also allegedly appeared in close proximity to the articles.  (Compl. ¶ 12.)  Based on user comments posted to Mercola's articles, Quest claimed that the articles have deceived consumers and caused Quest significant harm.  (Compl. ¶ 13.) 

According to the Complaint, Quest had previously asked Mercola to remove an article he published in January 2009 that Quest claimed was "false and misleading."  Mercola allegedly agreed to take down the offending article and "refrain from making false and misleading statements regarding Quest Diagnostics, Inc."  (Compl. ¶ 16.)  Quest alleged that the articles that were at issue in this lawsuit violated this agreement.  

Quest brought claims of unfair competition under both the federal Lanham Act and New Jersey state statutes, defamation, trade libel, and breach of contract.  Quest sought money damages, attorneys' fees and costs, as well as a permanent injunction requiring Mercola to remove "all false and misleading statements regarding Quest Diagnostics from any publication or on-line medium under [Mercola's] direction, custody or control," post a retraction, and refrain from making any false or misleading statements regarding Quest.

On July 31, 2009, Quest voluntarily dismissed its claims.  All posts regarding Quest Diagnostics appear to have been removed from the mercola.com website.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

08/03/2009 - LB editing

Subject Area: 

Keith Goodridge Construction v. WYBS, Inc.

Date: 

08/18/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

WYBS, Inc., d/b/a/ Merchantcircle; John Doe; Susan and Anthony Gatchell

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal
State

Court Name: 

Linn County Circuit Court; United States District Court, D. Oregon.

Case Number: 

6:08CV06313 (District Court)

Legal Counsel: 

Bruce L. Campbell, Elisa J. Dozono - Miller Nash LLP (for Defendant WYBS, Inc.)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

In August 2008, Keith Goodridge sued WYBS, Inc., owner of the site www.merchantcircle.com, and a John Doe using the screen name "Attorney" over allegedly defamatory comments posted to the site.  According to the complaint, a posting from June 4, 2008 falsely claimed that an outdoor arena Keith Goodridge Construction (KGC) had built collapsed, killing a teenager. 

WYBS removed the case to federal court and filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that it was immune from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("Section 230"). In February 2009, Goodridge amended his complaint to add factual allegations regarding a second allegedly defamatory posting on merchantcircle.com, from November 21, 2008.  He also attempted to plead around Section 23 by claiming that WYBS itself republished both allegedly defamatory statements in multiple locations on its site.  Susan and Anthony Gatchell were added as defendants in lieu of the John Doe "Attorney."

WYBS filed a motion to dismiss this amended complaint, claiming that the reposting alleged by Goodridge did not appear on WYBS's site, but rather on completely independent third-party sites, such as Craigslist.org.  It also reasserted its claim of immunity under Section 230.

On February 24, 2009, Goodridge filed a motion to remand to state court, claiming that the addition of  Susan and Anthony Gatchell — both residents of Oregon like Goodridge — eliminated federal jurisdiction. In June 2009, a magistrate judge issued his recommendation that the case be remanded to state court and that Goodridge be allowed to file a second amended complaint. 

On July 14, 2009, the federal district court adopted the findings and recommendation of the magistrate and remanded the case to the Linn County Circuit Court.

Update:

May 12, 2010 -  A reader submitted the following update via email: "The Linn County Court granted an anti-SLAPP motion in favor of WYBS against Plaintiffs in the amount of $22,242, on the ground that there was no objectively reasonable basis for the claim." 

CMLP Notes: 

07/23/2009 - LB editing

docket on WL  6:08CV06313

 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Lang v. Mason

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

05/09/2002

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Michael Mason; Waterman Broadcasting Corp. of Florida; MSNBC Interactive News L.L.C.; Mary Catherine Tourtillott

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization
Media Company

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

20th Judicial Circuit, Lee County, Florida (trial); Florida Second District Court of Appeals (appeal)

Case Number: 

02-CA-005053 (trial); 2D04-3687 (appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

Steven William Carta - Henderson & Carta (for Mason, Waterman Broadcasting, and MSNBC); Martin Khoury (for Mary Catherine Tourtillott)

Publication Medium: 

Broadcast
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Jeffrey Lang, a Florida reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon, filed a lawsuit against reporter Michael Mason, MSNBC, its affiliate Waterman Broadcasting, and Mary Catherine Tourtillott, a former patient, for an allegedly defamatory news report that accused Lang disfiguring his patients. Lang's four-count complaint alleged defamation, false-light invasion of privacy, tortious interference, and civil conspiracy.

The disputed report aired on television in 2000, and was allegedly posted on MSNBC's website, according to the complaint. In their answer, Mason, MSNBC, and Waterman denied that the report was defamatory. Tourtillott also denied Lang's allegations in her answer.

In 2004, the trial court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of prosecution. On appeal, the ruling was reversed and the case was remanded. The Florida Supreme Court denied the media defendants' petition for review in 2005.

On remand in 2007, MSNBC filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. In its motion, MSNBC said the disputed report was created and posted to the site by a third party -- the Waterman-owned WBBH-TV station in Florida. 

The CMLP has not been able to determine the final outcome of the case. 

CMLP Notes: 

both dockets on WL -many docs available through docket and filings

appeal at 911 So.2d 167

trial opinion dismissing at 2004 WL 5706499 (many documents available here)

to do:  Need to find trial after reverse and remand, not on docket on wl

7/20/09 - CMF

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Glass v. Doe d/b/a pogowasright.org

Date: 

07/30/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jane Doe d/b/a pogowasright.org

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

Case Number: 

CV09-05648 CBM (FFMx)

Legal Counsel: 

Gregory Alan Rutchik; Colette Vogele

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Description: 

Jane Doe, an anonymous blogger and author of the website Pogo Was Right: Privacy News from Around the World, filed suit in the Central District of California against Lillian Glass, Ph.D. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that (1) Doe is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act from liability for postings made by anonymous third parties in the website's forums, and (2) that certain comments made by Doe on the blog do not defame Dr. Glass.

The case arises from a series of posts by Doe on the Pogo Was Right website relating to the mental health problems experienced by Britney Spears and the resulting media coverage. Dr. Glass, a "body language expert," had appeared on CNN's Showbiz Tonight and on CNN's Primetime Live with Erica Hill to discuss Ms. Spears' behavior and to offer a potential diagnosis of Ms. Spears as suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. In response, Doe authored a series of posts criticizing Dr. Glass' comments and raising concerns about Ms. Spears' privacy and patient confidentiality.

On June 18, 2009, an attorney for Dr. Glass wrote to Doe, asserting that certain comments by Doe and an anonymous forum poster "violated the privacy rights and other rights" of Dr. Glass; were "false and defamatory in nature, and [were] designed to embarrass and hold my client up to ridicule"; and "incited persons with such propensities and have called for Dr. Glass' death." (The latter in reference to the following from one of Doe's posts:  "'Dr. Phil' catches some flak and dishes some out A complaint filed about Dr. Phil -- but is it wellfounded? People who live in Glass psychology houses shouldn't throw stones. They should be stoned. Dr.
Lillian Glass backpedals, but is it too little, too late?") The letter demanded that Doe remove all references to Dr. Glass from her posts.

Dr. Glass' attorney subsequently sent an email once again threatening to sue if Doe did not remove the references to Dr. Glass from the webiste. The email also stated: "I should also mention to you that if a suit is filed against you, then there will be a public record of your identity and of your capacity as the blogger of this 'pogowasright.org' and other websites. Since you have gone to such great lengths to hide your identity improperly, I think this should also be a concern of yours." Doe filed the complaint for a declaratory judgment ten days after receipt of this email.

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

Westlaw Alert

Jurisdiction: 

Salon Professional Academy v. Blacconiere

Date: 

07/27/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Nicholas Blacconiere; John Doe

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Kane County Circuit Court

Case Number: 

2009L000465

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

A Chicago-area cosmetology school has filed suit against Illinois resident Nicholas Blacconiere and an unknown John Doe for allegedly creating a Facebook page that the school claims defamed its directors and used its logo without permission. The Salon Professional Academy of Elgin, as well as school officials Gwendolyn Nelson and Aaron Aven, are seeking $50,000 in damages, according to the Daily Herald

The complaint alleges that the defendants made defamatory statements on a Facebook profile called "Tpsa RobinHood." As of Aug. 4, 2009, the profile was still on Facebook, but was set to private -- meaning that only "friends" could view the profile. According to the Chicagoist, a June post on the profile states that the school's logo was removed after complaints and will not be used again. Another post on the profile reportedly states that the page was not meant to "bash" anyone, but was rather intended to be a place for students to "vent" about their experiences at the school.  

A case management conference has been set for Oct. 15, 2009, according to court documents.  

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

8/3/09- court docket at http://www.cic.co.kane.il.us/OnlineCourtInformation.asp, let applet load and search for Blacconiere

CMF - 8/5/09

Jurisdiction: 

Sedgwick Claims Management Services v. Delsman

Date: 

04/03/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Robert A. Delsman

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Case Number: 

09-cv-1468

Legal Counsel: 

Pro Se (trial court); Paul Alan Levy - Public Citizen Litigation Group (appeal)

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Print
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Sedgwick, a company that provides insurance claims management services, sued Robert Delsman, a former employee of one of Sedgwick's clients, for copyright infringement, defamation, and other torts, after he created gripe sites, blogs, videos and print materials criticizing the company. Delsman's beef with the company started after he filed a claim for disability benefits in 2006.  According to the complaint, Delsman was unhappy with the way in which Sedgwick handled his claims, and began a campaign of harassment which allegedly included:

  • Hosting pictures of Sedgwick's CEO and COO on his website and blog, which "morph[ed] . . . into images of Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler," and posting a similar video to YouTube
  • Referring to Sedgwick and its employees as "Sedgthugs"
  • Unjustly accusing Sedgwick of engaging in criminal behavior on his website and in emails
  • "Operation Going Postcard," in which Delsman sent postcards to Sedgwick offices, employees, customers and outside insurance agencies in multiple states.  These postcards allegedly contained copyrighted images of Sedgwick's CEO and COO and an image of a human skull containing Sedgwick's trademark in the eye sockets, along with "defamatory, false and libelous statements against Sedgwick.

(Compl. ¶¶ 12-13.)  Sedgwick sought damages, fees, and an injunction preventing Delsman from sending offensive emails or postcards and further defaming or libeling Sedgwick, and requiring him to remove all of Sedgwick's copyrighted material from his website and blog and to destroy all Sedgwick's copyrighted material in his possession.

Delsman, who is representing himself pro se, has filed a motion for summary judgment.  The court has yet to rule on his motion.

UPDATE:

07/17/2009- The court construed Delsman's motion for summary judgment as a motion to dismiss and granted the motion.  The court held that the copyright claim failed because Delsman's use of Sedgwick photographs was fair use.  The court dismissed the remaining claims under California's anti-SLAPP statute.

12/16/2009- Sedgwick filed its opening brief on appeal.

01/29/2010 - Delsman filed its response brief.

03/01/2010 - Sedgwick filed its reply brief.

03/21/2011 - In an unpublished, two-page opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's ruling.

CMLP Notes: 

Updated with Ninth Circuit ruling, sent to us by Delsman - AAB 4/1/11

 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Grijalva v. Brandt

Date: 

03/11/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Helga Brandt; Josef Motycka; ASSE International, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of San Diego County (trial); Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District

Case Number: 

Super. Ct. No. 37-2008-00052285; D053856 (appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

George L. Hampton IV; HamptonHolly LLP

Publication Medium: 

Email

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Grijalva and Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES), a website which reports fraud and abuse committed against foreign exchange students, filed a lawsuit against ASSE International, Inc. (ASSE); Helga Brandt; and Josef Motycka, claiming defamation and unfair business practices for allegedly sending emails critical of CSFES to the parents of foreign exchange students.

Plantiffs alleged in their complaint that "ASSE . . . set out to malign CSFES  and . . . Grijalva with an intentional and false campaign directed to the parents of students. . . ." Opinion at 4. Grijalva asserted that in its email campaign againts her, ASSE falsely accused her of the following:

  • "conducting her website and agency with a 'commercial purpose'"
  • "'manipulating facts'"
  • "'not portraying a clear picture'"
  • "'isn't interested in the welfare of the students'"
  • "'threatening' to send information on exchange agencies but 'if got [sic] a contribution doesn't send anything,'"
  • "'represent[ing] herself as a federal agent,'"
  • "'performs background checks,'"
  • "[b]eing a 'liar,'" and
  • "[m]aking 'false statements'[.]'"

Id. 

ASSE and Brandt filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking to dismiss the complaint. In the motion, ASSE and Brandt claimed that plaintiffs' lawsuit was filed in retaliation for ASSE's participating in a separate lawsuit against Grijalva then pending in North Carolina. The trial judge granted defendants' motion. Plaintiffs appealed. The appeals court reversed the trial judge's ruling and remanded the case to San Diego Superior Court. 

The grounds for reversal was that ASSE's and Brandt's allegations that plaintiffs filed the lawsuit a "mere one month" after ASSE intervened in the North Carolina suit was not sufficient to demonstrate that plaintiffs' claims arose from ASSE's participation in the suit.  The court further found that ASSE's and Brandt's claim that the lawsuit was filed in retaliation for ASSE's participation in the North Carolina suit was irrelevant to application of the anti-SLAPP statute. The court held that a complaint filed with a retaliatory motive was not barred by the anti-SLAPP statute, so long as the claims in the complaint arose from statements or conduct independent of ASSE's participation in the North Carolina litigation.  

CMLP Notes: 

2009 WL 2149149

The reversal just came down so we will need to wait and find the case on remand.

AVM 7-23-09 

Content Type: 

Priority: 

2-Normal

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Moore v. Allen

Date: 

06/26/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Donald W.R. Allen; John Hoff; John Does 1-5

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Hennepin Civil Court, Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota

Case Number: 

No. 27-CV-09-17778

Legal Counsel: 

Donald Allen (pro se); Paul Godfread (for defendant Hoff)

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Directed Verdict/Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict (total)

Description: 

Former University of Minnesota employee Jerry Moore filed a lawsuit in June 2009 against blogger John Hoff, online commenter Don Allen, and five anonymous commenters who Moore says published intentionally defamatory content in order to get him fired. The lawsuit was filed in Minnesota state court, according to the blog Prattles.

On his blog, The Adventures of Johnny Northside, Hoff criticized the university's hiring of Moore and wrote about a lawsuit Moore was involved in. According to the Minnesota Independent, the complaint alleges that Hoff is "disentitled" to First Amendment protections because of his allegedly biased writing. The complaint also alleges Hoff allowed his blog's comments section to become a "defamation zone," according to Prattles.

According to the University of Minnesota Daily student newspaper, Moore’s employment with the university ended June 22, less than two months after he began work on a temporary basis at the school's Urban Research and Outreach Center.

Updates:

On March 7, 2011, a jury trial commenced.

On March 11, 2011, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Moore. The jury found that the statement, "Repeated and specific evidence in Hennepin County District Court shows that Jerry Moore was involved with a high-profile fraudulent mortgage at 1564 Hillside Ave. N.," was true. The jury nevertheless ruled in favor of Moore on his claims for intentional interference with an employment contract and intentional interference with prospective employment advantage. The jury awarded Moore $35,000 for the loss of benefits of the contract, and $25,000 for emotional distress or actual harm to reputation.

On March 23, 2011, the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists filed an amicus brief with respect to Hoff's post-trial motions. The brief stated that Minnesota courts, and both federal and state courts, have rejected attempts by plaintiffs to disguise defamation claims under other causes of action. The brief also argued that Minnesota courts have held that providing truthful information cannot provide the basis for an action for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage.

On April 1, 2011, Hoff filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law stating that the factual findings of the jury did not support a verdict in favor of Moore, and asking the court to enter judgment in favor of Hoff on all counts. In the alternative, Hoff sought a new trial. The memorandum in support of the motion stated that tortious interference claims could not be based on true statements, and that the First Amendment barred Hoff's claims for tortious interference. In the alternative, the motion stated that Hoff was entitled to a new trial because the jury was improperly swayed by emotion, the jury instructions contained a plain error, and the verdict was contrary to law and unsupported by evidence.

On May 25, 2011, Moore filed an opposition to Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law.

On May 26, 2011, Hoff filed a reply to Moore's opposition.

On August 22, 2011, the district court denied Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law in its entirety. The court held that the jury's findings on tortious interference were supported by the record developed during the jury trial, and that the jury's findings on the special verdict form could be reconciled if the jury had determined that Hoff's conduct taken as a whole (and not his true speech) constituted tortious interference. The district court also denied Hoff's motion for a new trial.

On October 26, 2011, Hoff filed a notice of appeal in the district court.

On January 30, 2012, Hoff filed a brief in support of his appeal in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, appealing the district court's denial of Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. The brief stated that Minnesota law does not permit liability for tortious interference to attach to true statements; that the record did not contain evidence to support the jury's findings; and that the trial court had failed to consider the requirements of the First Amendment in its order and memorandum denying Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial.

On February 2, 2012, the Minnesota Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics & Law filed an amicus brief in support of Hoff.

On March 22, 2012, Moore filed his Appellee Brief, arguing that Hoff had failed to correctly appeal the instructions to the jury at the trial court.

On April 10, 2012, Hoff filed a Reply Brief.

On May 23, 2012, the parties argued before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Update:

On August 20, 2012, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hoff, reversing the jury's verdict and remanding the case. The Court held that a true statement cannot support a claim for tortious interference with contract or prospective business relationships, and that when protected speech is inextricably intertwined with allegedly tortious conduct, there can be no liability as a matter of law.

CMLP Notes: 

AVM- no images on state docket, nothing on WL as of 7/2/09

CMF - nothing on westlw yet; state site docket info below 7/22/09

http://pa.courts.state.mn.us/ - docket here; choose  Hennepin civil from drop down menu and search case number

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Park West Galleries v. Fine Art Registry

Date: 

03/04/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Fine Art Registry; Bruce Hochman; Theresa Franks; David Phillips

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Case Number: 

2:08-CV-12247

Legal Counsel: 

Ralph C. Chapa, Jr., Lawrence C. Atorthy - Kaufman & Payton (for Defendants Fine Art Registry, Franks, and Phillips); Ian C. Simpson - Garan Lucow (for Defendant Hochman)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

Park West Galleries (PWG), an art gallery that also performs auctions on cruise ships, sued Fine Art Registry (FAR), an organization that, according to The Art Newspaper, offers “advocacy to victims of art fraud and abuse” including a system of tagging and registering art, along with Theresa Franks, CEO and founder of FAR, and Bruce Hochman, Gallery Director for the Salvador Dali Gallery in San Juan and art expert for FAR.  (Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, 5-6.) 

According to the complaint, FAR, Franks, and Hochman allegedly orchestrated an eleven-month "smear campaign" through the FAR website, making "false and defamatory statements" about PWG in an "attempt[] to destroy Park West's goodwill and reputation."  (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 7, 24.)  Specifically, PWG complains that FAR, Franks, and Hochman have falsely accused it of selling fake artwork during its "at-sea" auctions.  (Compl. ¶25-33.)  PWG is seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction barring FAR, Franks, and Hochman from making any further defamatory statements.

Shortly after this suit began, PWG brought a similar suit against David Phillips, who participated in an allegedly defamatory interview with Hochman that was posted to FAR's website.  In March, 2009, the court consolidated the two cases.

The court denied Hochman's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or forum non conveniens and improper venue.  FAR and Franks also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and/or improper venue.  The court found that jurisdiction was proper over FAR, but not Franks, and dismissed Franks from the lawsuit.  It denied the request to change venue.

In May 2009, FAR and Phillips filed a counterclaim against PWG, accusing it of a "concerted effort to defame, smear, and destroy the business and personal reputations of F[AR] and P[hillips]."  (Counterclaim ¶ 12.)  The counterclaim includes counts of defamation, tortious interference, interference with prospective business advantage, trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, and conspiracy.  FAR and Phillips are seeking actual and punitive damages.

The court has yet to rule on PWG's motion to dismiss FAR's and Phillips' counterclaim.

Update:

02/26/2010 - The court granted in part and denied in part the motions for summary judgment filed by Global Fine Art Registry, David Charles Phillips, Theresa Franks, and Bruce Hochman and The Salvador Dali Gallery. Among other rulings, the court determined that posting allegedly defamatory statements under a pseudonym triggered a longer statute of limitations period applicable to "fraudulent concealment."

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Twitter, WordPress, Ning, and GoDaddy Dragged Into Defamation Lawsuit Over Condo Building

Daniel Neiditch, President of the Board for Atelier Condos on West 42nd Street in New York City, filed a lawsuit last Wednesday against two condo owners and three former employees, alleging that they published defamatory statements on various websites and blogs (defunct), as well as on Twitter (also defunct).

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Gannon v. Walker

Date: 

11/20/2006

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Paula Walker; Sue Burris; Brian Shunick

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of Arizona, County of Maricopa

Case Number: 

CV2006-092488

Legal Counsel: 

Michael W. Pearson - Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Print
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Edward Gannon, a pilot with US Airways, filed a lawsuit against Paula Walker, Sue Burris, and Brian Shunick, three airline attendants, claiming that they defamed him by reporting Gannon's willingness to take-off in an airplane with iced wings to the Federal Aviation Administration. Subsequently, Gannon filed a motion to amend his complaint to add new defamation claims and a false light claim based on the defendants' contributions to an article published in the Phoenix New Times, in which they "repeated their earlier false and defamatory statements." (Amend. Compl. ¶ 4.) He also alleged that the defendants were "endeavoring to disseminate their misleading diatribe" by creating a blog with a story on the lawsuit at www.helpflightattendantcrew.blogspot.com. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 5.) Gannon argued that the story "while technically accurate, nevertheless is actionable under a false light invasion of privacy action."(Id.)

In February 2009, an Arizona state court denied Gannon's motion to amend, finding that his "defamation claims would be futile" and granted Walker's motion for summary judgment on laches, qualified privilege, and the veracity of Walker's claims. (Opinion at p. 3.) In March 2009, Gannon filed a "motion for new trial on court's summary judgment ruling" and a motion for reconsideration of the denial of leave to amend

CMLP Notes: 

 all the info at 2009 WL 1835254

 need to check for updates

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Wiseman v. Does 1-25

Date: 

03/26/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Does 1-25

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of California, Los Angeles County

Case Number: 

BC410604

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Los Angeles photographer Zoe Wiseman has filed suit in California state court against twenty-five anonymous individuals associated with WeHireAliens.com, alleging they falsely stated that she illegally hires models without work visas and pays them in cash. The website allows users to report "suspected employers of illegal aliens." The disputed post names three British models allegedly hired without work visas by Wiseman for a photo shoot at a hotel in California. Other users' replies to the original post claim it was written by someone with a "personal vendetta" against Wiseman.  

The complaint, filed in March 2009, states claims for defamation and negligence. A case management conference is scheduled for July 27, 2009. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Source: CourtHouse News

AVM- 6/9/9 investigating- updated with basic info from westlaw,but no other documents  available at this time

7/9/09 - docket available on WestLaw; no other documents up at this time (CMF)

Jurisdiction: 

Horizon Group v. Bonnen

Date: 

07/20/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Amanda Bonnen

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division

Case Number: 

2009L008675

Legal Counsel: 

Richard C. Balough-Balough Law Offices LLC; Leslie Ann Reis - Center for Information Technology & Privacy Law

Publication Medium: 

Micro-blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Horizon Realty Group, an apartment leasing and management company in Chicago, filed a defamation lawsuit last week against a former tenant, Amanda Bonnen, over a tweet she posted about the company on Twitter.  According to the complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Bonnen posted the following tweet on May 12, 2009: 

@JessB123 You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you?  Horizon realty thinks it's ok.

According to Chicago Bar-Tender, Bonnen had just 20 followers before her account disappeared from Twitter.  Nevertheless, Horizon claims that, as a result of the post, the company "has been greatly injured in its reputation as a landlord in Chicago."

Update:

1/20/09 - The court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, according to press accounts

CMLP Notes: 

AVM 7/27/09 the twitter account has been taken down but is attached to complaint

 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Management Company Sues Renter Over Twitter Post

Horizon Realty Group, an apartment leasing and management company in Chicago, filed a defamation lawsuit last week against a former tenant, Amanda Bonnen, over a tweet she posted about the company on Twitter.  According to the complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Bonnen posted the following tweet on May 12, 2009: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

British Court Clears Google of 'Defamatory' Search Results, But It Still Sucks to be a Web Host in Britain

As nearly every American lawyer knows, London is the libel capital of the world.  There are a bunch of reasons why, of course: defendants have the burden of proving the truth of their statements; neither negligence nor actual malice is required for liability; there's no distinction between public and private figures; etc.  But regardless of the reasons, Great Britain is the place to sue for defamation.  Heck, it's so b

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

The Future of Digital Book Burning: Why Remote Line-Item Retraction is Scarier than Remote Volume Deletion

Subject Area: 

Pages