AutoAdmit

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

06/08/2007

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Connecticut

Disposition: 

Settled (total)
Subpoena Enforced

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
Two female Yale Law School students, captioned as Does I & II, sued Anthony Ciolli, the former chief education director of the popular law school admissions forum, AutoAdmit, and a host of pseudonymous users of the forum over vulgar, sexually... read full description
Parties

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

John Doe I; John Doe II

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Anthony Ciolli; Mathew C. Ryan; Ryan C. Mariner; Individuals whose true names are unknown

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Location of Party: 

  • Connecticut

Location of Party: 

  • Pennsylvania

Legal Counsel: 

Marc Randazza (Ciolli); Charles E. Vermette, Jr.; Daniel J. Hoppe, Jr.; Orlando P. Ojeda, Jr.; W. Anthony Collins, Jr. (A horse walks into a bar); John R. Williams (AK47); Joseph G. Fortner, Jr.; Susan J. O'Donnell (Matthew C. Ryan, aka ".D")
Description

Two female Yale Law School students, captioned as Does I & II, sued Anthony Ciolli, the former chief education director of the popular law school admissions forum, AutoAdmit, and a host of pseudonymous users of the forum over vulgar, sexually explicit, and threatening comments posted about them on the forum. In addition to making numerous derogatory and sexually explicit statements about the two students, pseudonymous users of the site created another website, t14talent: The Most Appealing Women @ Top Law Schools (now defunct), and posted photographs of one of the students without her permission. (Although the complaint is not entirely clear on this point, the student claims copyright ownership in these photographs in addition to publicity rights, indicating that she may have been the creator of the photos and posted them online.)

According to the complaint, the two students complained about the forum postings to the AutoAdmit staff, but AutoAdmit did not remove the material. Ciolli disputes that he had any authority to remove the offensive postings.

In June 2007, the two students sued in federal court in Connecticut, asserting claims of defamation, copyright infringement, unauthorized appropriation of name and likeness, unreasonable publicity given to another's life, false light invasion of privacy, and other torts. Soon after filing, they moved to proceed anonymously, and the court granted that request.

In August 2007, the plaintiffs moved to modify the court's scheduling order in order to give them time to investigate the identity of the pseudonymous defendants and to amend their complaint. The court granted the initial request and two subsequent requests for thirty-day extensions, the last of which was requested on October 4. According to a tip posted on David Lat's Above the Law blog, it is unlikely that the court will grant a fourth extension, so an amended complaint may be forthcoming relatively soon.

Update:

11/8/07 - Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint dropping Ciolli from the lawsuit.

1/24/08 - Plaintiffs filed a motion for expedited discovery seeking to uncover the identities of the pseudonymous posters listed in the complaint.

1/29/08 - Court granted motion for expedited discovery.

2/22/08 - Pseudonymous defendant "AK47" moved to quash the subpoena directed at AT&T requesting information about his identity.

3/2/08 - Plaintiffs deposed former defendant Anthony Ciolli, at which Ciolli acknowledged that his AOL Instant Messenger username is "AnthonyCiolli."

3/4/08 - Former defendant Anthony Ciolli filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court against the plaintiffs, their lawyers, and other defendants for wrongful initiation of civil proceedings, abuse of process, libel, slander, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with contract, and unauthorized use of name or likeness.

3/18/08 - Plaintiffs issued a subpoena to AOL seeking the names of "all persons who have registered or used" the username "AnthonyCiolli" and related information about the account, including "other user names and login IDs and/or Internet Protocol ("IP") addresses associated with the IM username 'AnthonyCiolli.'"

4/7/08 - Ciolli filed a motion to quash the AOL subpoena in federal district court in Virginia.

06/13/08 - The court denied AK47's motion to quash the subpoena seeking his identity from AT&T.

08/05/08 - Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that names Mathew C. Ryan (previously known by username ":D") as a defendant. Legal Satyricon "can confirm with 100% certainty that the guy in the complaint is neither an attorney nor a law professor."

8/13/08 - Defendant "a horse walks into a bar", a.k.a Ryan Mariner filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff's have stated no cause of action against him and that they have failed to prosecute the action against him despite offers to accept service made through counsel. 

9/10/08 - Plaintiffs filed papers in opposition to Mariner's motion to dismiss.

9/19/08 - The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia held that the plaintiffs' subpoena to AOL seeking the names of "all persons who have registered or used" the username "AnthonyCiolli" was facially invalid because it was issued from the wrong court.  The court determined that it should have issued from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Because the court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction, it did not reach the merits of Anthony Ciolli's motion to quash

10/26/08 - Plaintiffs filed a notice of settlement and request for dismissal against defendant "Whamo."

3/31/09 - Pennsylvania federal court largely denied the defendants' motion to dismiss Anthony Ciolli's complaint in Ciolli v. Iravani, but gave defendants leave to renew their motion after jurisdictional discovery.  The court also struck certain allegations from the complaint relating to settlement negotiations in the Connecticut lawsuit. 

4/30/09 - Connecticut federal court denies Matthew Ryan's motion to dismiss. 

5/21/09 - Matthew Ryan files his answer to the second amended complaint in Connecticut federal court.

9/29/09 - Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Settlement and Request for Dismissal of Action Against Defendant ":D", A.K.A. Matthew C. Ryan

10/16/09 - Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of Action Against Remaining Defendants Without Prejudice by Doe 1, Doe 2

10/23/09 - Court dismissed case

Details

Content Type: 

  • Photo
  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Subject Area: 

  • Copyright
  • Defamation
  • Third-Party Content
  • False Light
  • Right of Publicity
  • Section 230
  • Anonymity
  • Publication of Private Facts
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Connecticut

Source of Law: 

  • United States
  • Connecticut

Court Name: 

District of Connecticut

Court Type: 

Federal

Case Number: 

3:07CV00909

Relevant Documents: 

CMLP Information (Private)

CMLP Notes: 

TO DO: Monitor

Updated 6/16/09 - CMF

Updated checked on 08/05/2008. {MCS}