Defamation, Facebook, Social Networking Websites

Nevada Lawyer Sues Over Mean Facebook Comments

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Unless it involves defamatory Facebook postings and a retaliatory lawsuit.

The new CBS show The Defenders has Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell dramatizing and glamorizing the life and work of Las Vegas attorneys. But for the real attorneys working in the tumbleweeds of Nevada, it can be a tough gig. Ask Jonathan Goldsmith, a “60% Bankruptcy / 10% Family Law / 10% Criminal Defense / 5% Personal Injury” of counsel at Rosenfeld & Rinato. (They don’t bother with associates there — you’re either of counsel or a founding partner, even if you’re just two years out of law school; Goldsmith is a 2009 University of Las Vegas law grad.)

Goldsmith was plaintiff’s counsel in a divorce case, and the husband being divorced, Jordan Cooper, took a disliking to him. Which he naturally expressed on Facebook…

Goldsmith’s complaint lays out the mean things Cooper said about him on Facebook (via Eric Goldman):

Goldsmith obviously didn’t provide Cooper with a self-portrait, so Cooper had to get creative in his attempt to satisfy his curiosity. A female relative, Cheryl Cooper Driscoll, allegedly created a fake profile and friended Goldsmith to get access to his photos. One of the Coopers then posted Goldsmith’s photo, so that his friends could make fun of the attorney’s looks. Jeez, how crass.

It wasn’t enough to give the Coopers a really hard Facebook poke. Instead, Goldsmith’s suing them for defamation and injury to his reputation, which he apparently doesn’t overly value. He’s claiming damages of just $10,000. (Update: He set it at $10K because that’s the jurisdictional minimum. Gavel bang: commenter.)

It’s unclear how Goldsmith was able to see all that the Coopers wrote about him — whether through fake-profile subterfuge of his own or because their privacy settings at the time allowed non-friends to see their walls. But he probably came across the photo-bashing because of divorce due diligence.

Goldsmith may know his “bankruptcy/family/criminal defense/personal injury” law, but he seems unfamiliar with Section 230, which immunizes websites from lawsuits for material published by their users: He included Facebook as one of the defendants in the lawsuit, for publishing the defamatory material.

Jonathan Goldsmith, a Nevada lawyer, sued Facebook for “defamatory & demeaning” user postings. Hello 47 USC 230! [Eric Goldman / Twitter]
Goldsmith v. Cooper [Scribd]

Related: Divorce Lawyers Turn Facebook into a Case-Winning Gold Mine

Kash is an editor emeritus at Above the Law. She’s now at Forbes writing about privacy, and the lack thereof, in the digital age.

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