Sedgwick Claims Management Services v. Delsman

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: 

04/03/2009

Status: 

Pending

Location: 

California

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
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... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Robert A. Delsman

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Location of Party: 

  • Illinois
  • Tennessee

Location of Party: 

  • California

Legal Counsel: 

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

Details

Content Type: 

  • Video
  • Photo
  • Text
  • Graphic

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Print
Website

Subject Area: 

  • Copyright
  • Defamation
  • Fair Use
  • SLAPP
  • Gripe Sites
Court Information & Documents
CMLP Information (Private)

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

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