Giordano v. Romeo

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: 

09/17/2009

Status: 

Pending

Location: 

Florida

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
John Giordano, president of a Florida-based addiction treatment company, filed suit (individually and on behalf of his company) against Donna Romeo over a posting on consumer-reporting website Ripoff Report. The post describes the treatment facility's conditions in harsh terms, and... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Donna L. Romeo; Xcentric Ventures, LLC

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Location of Party: 

  • Florida

Location of Party: 

  • Florida
  • Arizona

Legal Counsel: 

Maria Crimi Speth, of Jaburg Wilk (For Xcentric); Lawrence A. Wanshel (For Romeo)
Description

John Giordano, president of a Florida-based addiction treatment company, filed suit (individually and on behalf of his company) against Donna Romeo over a posting on consumer-reporting website Ripoff Report. The post describes the treatment facility's conditions in harsh terms, and states that "one of the owners is a convicted felon."

The complaint names both Romeo and Ripoff Report's parent company, Xcentric Ventures; it alleges defamation (libel and libel per se) against Romeo, and seeks to permanently enjoin Ripoff Report (through Xcentric) from continuing to publish the post.

According to court transcripts, Giordano and Romeo eventually reached an agreement according to which the court would enter an injunction against Romeo, requiring her to ask Ripoff Report to remove the post. Ripoff Report's policy is to not remove posts. After Ripoff Report refused to remove the post, the trial court issued a temporary injunction against Xcentric. In so doing, the court found that because of the refusal to remove, Xcentric became "the publisher of the statements," thus outside the protections of 47 U.S.C. § 230.

Xcentric appealed, but withdrew that appeal shortly thereafter. A newly-assigned trial judge then dismissed the case against Xcentric, citing a number of cases for the proposition that Section 230 protects Ripoff Report. Giordano's appeal is pending in Florida's Third District Court of Appeals.

UPDATE:

On December 28, 2011, the Third District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Xcentric. In a brief five-page opinion, the court stated that while Xcentric's business practices were "appalling," and "created a forum for defamation," Section 230 provides complete immunity for internet service providers like Xcentric against actions based on third-party postings. The court's decision is not final until the disposition of any timely motion for rehearing that Giordano might file.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Website

Subject Area: 

  • Section 230
  • Consumer Ratings and Reviews
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Florida

Source of Law: 

  • Florida

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida

Court Type: 

State

Case Number: 

09-68539 CA25

Relevant Documents: 

CMLP Information (Private)

CMLP Notes: 

1/12/2012: JS updating; text of update sent to JH for review  

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Hopefully this link to the appeals docket will continue to work:

http://199.242.69.70/pls/ds/ds_docket?p_caseyear=2011&p_casenumber=707&psCourt=3&psSearchType=

Here's a link to one of the att'ys handlying the appeal for Xcentric:

http://www.jaburgwilk.com/attorneys/maria-crimi-speth.aspx