Dominick v. MySpace

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: 

Subpoena

Date: 

05/12/2008

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Illinois

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
In May 2008, Larry Dominick, the Town President of Cicero, Illinois, filed a "Petition for Discovery" in Illinois state court, seeking information from social networking site MySpace regarding a user who had created false profiles purporting to be Dominick. The petition asked... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

MySpace, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual
Government

Type of Party: 

Large Organization
Intermediary

Location of Party: 

  • Illinois

Location of Party: 

  • California
  • Delaware

Legal Counsel: 

Charles Lee Mudd Jr. - Mudd Law Offices, Matt Zimmerman - EFF (for Amicus Curiae EFF)
Description

In May 2008, Larry Dominick, the Town President of Cicero, Illinois, filed a "Petition for Discovery" in Illinois state court, seeking information from social networking site MySpace regarding a user who had created false profiles purporting to be Dominick. The petition asked the court for permission to issue interrogatories and document requests to MySpace to discover the user's identity. Interestingly, Dominick filed suit in his official capacity as Town President rather than as a private individual (see Sam Bayard's blog post for further discussion).

Dominick's petition states that Dominick "is the potential plaintiff in an action for defamation, invasion of privacy and related torts" against the creator or creators of the false profiles, but it does not identify any specific defamatory statements or describe the content of the profiles in detail. According to the Chicago Tribune, the profiles were "replete with photos and questionable comments about his sexuality and ethics." MySpace removed the profiles in response to Dominick's claims.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a motion to appear as amicus curiae in the case. On June 4, EFF submitted a brief opposing the petition for discovery and arguing that (1) the Stored Communications Act prohibits a government entity like the Town of Cicero from using ordinary discovery processes to obtain customer records from an online service like MySpace; and (2) Dominick failed to meet the heightened First Amendment requirements demanded of litigants seeking the identities of anonymous Internet speakers.

On June 13, Dominick voluntarily withdrew his complaint without prejudice. Dominick did not note the reasons for the withdrawal, but commentators such as the EFF have stated that his complaint was deficient because it lacked specific allegations of defamatory conduct and proof that the defamatory statements were false.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Photo
  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Subject Area: 

  • Anonymity
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Illinois

Source of Law: 

  • United States
  • Illinois

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

Court Type: 

State

Case Number: 

No. 2008-L-005191

Relevant Documents: