AutoAdmit Update: "A Horse Walks Into A Bar" Gets Feisty

You know you've got a pretty good job when you turn to the first order of business for the day and read this:

NOW COMES Defendant, A horse walks into a bar, a.k.a. Ryan Mariner ("Mariner"), and specially appears, without having been properly served and without waiving his right to proper service, and files this Brief in Support of his Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint against him.
Gosh, I love lawsuits against pseudonymous defendants . . .

One of the John Doe defendants in the sprawling AutoAdmit litigation has come out swinging, revealing his true identity and asserting that he "has done nothing wrong." Ryan Mariner, formerly known as "A horse walks into a bar," filed a motion to dismiss on Wednesday in federal court in Connecticut, asking the court to set him free from the case, which has been going on for over a year. 

He argues that the two anonymous Yale Law students who are plaintiffs in the case have willfully failed to serve him and prosecute the action against him, despite repeated offers by his counsel to accept service of the complaint. He argues that the plaintiffs' only possible motive for continuing to name him as a defendant in their second amended complaint and yet failing to serve him "seems to be to threaten and harass him by abusing the legal system." Ouch!

Mariner opens up a surprisingly literary can of whup-ass:

Mariner is not concerned with keeping his identity secret, since he has done nothing wrong.  On the contrary, Mariner has been trying to proceed with this litigation for months.  However, in an attempt to execute a strategy so Byzantine that Kafka himself would be dumbfounded, Plaintiffs' counsel has failed to include any allegations that would support a cause of action, refused Mariner's counsel's offer to accept service and refused to simply dismiss Mariner.  It appears Plaintiffs' plain is to keep a lawsuit pending for as long as possible without actually prosecuting it.

Besides complaining about the plaintiffs' failure to prosecute the action, Mariner's brief also sets forth some persuasive arguments why the complaint fails to state a valid cause of action against him.

In their second amended complaint, the plaintiffs only identify two statements allegedly made by Mariner, both of which indicate that he would like to have sexual relations with one of the plaintiffs.  Specifically, he told other forum posters to "get[] in line and wait patiently" and stated  that he "would make a sundae (including (but not limited to) whip cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and a cherry," in response to comments by other users expressing a desire to have sex with Doe II (one of the law student plaintiffs).  Second Am. Cmplt. ¶ 42.  As vulgar, childish, and offensive as these comments are, it's hard to see how they are legally actionable, since they simply express Mariner's own thoughts and desires without conveying much of anything at all about Doe II.

Mariner's brief walks through each of the plaintiffs' seven legal claims and does a decent job of demonstrating that they could not possibly apply to these two crude and offensive -- but legally harmless -- statements. More succinctly, Professor Marc Randazza jibes: "I’ll give away some prizes to anyone who can come up with a supportable cause of action for the statements made by 'A horse walks into a bar.'"

Randazza's excellent post on the motion has more details -- he even spoke with Mariner personally before writing it.  He raises the tantalizing possibility that Mariner might also file a Rule 11 motion for sanctions against the plaintiffs or their attorneys for willfully failing to serve or dismiss him from the case.

You can get background on the lawsuit and view underlying court documents through our database entry on the AutoAdmit case.


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