Defamation

Back in April, we wrote about Mark and Rhonda Lesher, a couple in rural Texas who won a massive defamation verdict against formerly anonymous online commenters. The online comments followed a trial during which they were acquitted of sexual assault. The multimillion dollar verdict appeared to set things right.

But it turns out there is much, much more to their story. Theirs is an unsettling tale of small-town justice, politics, and Mark Lesher, a lawyer-slash-“professional agitator,” who tried to do the right thing in a town that apparently wanted none of it.

Let’s start with news that the defamation verdict was overturned last month, and go backwards from there….

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You may recall that in July 2011, Craigslist ads started popping up in search of plaintiffs for a possible lawsuit against the second-best law school in all the land, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Those ads were posted by David Anziska, one of the leaders of what is now known as the law school litigation movement. Anziska, along with Jesse Strauss, formerly held positions at Kurzon Strauss (now known as Kurzon LLP), a small law firm in New York led by managing partner Jeffrey Kurzon.

Shortly after the ads were posted, Cooley Law fired back with a defamation complaint against the firm, alleging in a school-wide announcement that Team Strauss/Anziska and Kurzon Strauss had been “unethically soliciting former and present Cooley students to join in a class action lawsuit.” One month later, that very class-action lawsuit was filed, and rocked the world of legal education as we know it — calls for reform were made, and career services offices scrambled to clean up their employment statistics.

Perhaps Cooley Law wasn’t as superstitious as it should have been, because now, one year later, the little law firm that could has launched an additional suit against Cooley Law and its dean, Don LeDuc, this time alleging that the law school’s public claims against Kurzon LLP were false and defamatory….

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Nadya Suleman aka Octomom

Back in June, we brought you news of a potential lawsuit against Nadya Suleman, aka Octopussy Octomom, she of the clown car uterus. In an apparent desperate money grab, Suleman entered into a contract with Florida strip club T’s Lounge to perform a topless routine from July 11 to July 14. Unfortunately, she canceled her scheduled appearances after one of the club’s employees allegedly called her “a little crazy” in an interview with a local TV station.

As noted in a prior letter from the attorney for T’s Lounge, the strip joint planned to file suit immediately if Suleman failed to comply with the terms of her performance agreement. And in a filing from July 6 that recently came to light, T’s Lounge did just that, accusing Octomom of performing the ultimate strip tease — apparently she’s scheduled herself to appear at another gentlemen’s club to shake her booty.

Unwilling to accept this, T’s Lounge has asked a Palm Beach County court for an emergency injunction to prevent Suleman from bumping and grinding her post-partum goodies on an alternative greased-up pole….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Strip Club Seeks Emergency Injunction Over Octomom’s Refusal to Bump ‘N Grind”

* Dewey know how many professional firms have been allowed to stay on as advisers for the largest law firm bankruptcy in U.S. history? Six out of nine firms were permitted to continue services, but Proskauer wasn’t one of them. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* In other defunct firm news, Al Togut will be presenting Dewey & LeBoeuf’s former partners with a proposed settlement on Wednesday. You’ve been warned: prepare yourselves for some Biglaw-style bitching. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Despite reports of the billable hour going the way of the dodo bird, it looks like they’re here to stay. Right now, corporate law departments are still much more excited about alternative billing arrangements than law firms. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Judge Sam Sparks, the King of Benchslaps, dismissed Lance Armstrong’s lawsuit against the USADA in record time. That ruling came too quickly — guess it’s time to investigate judicial doping. [New York Times]

* Marc Dreier’s son, Spencer Dreier, is representing himself pro se in a defamation suit against his former college roommate. Looks like Daddy couldn’t spring for his kid’s lawyer while he was in the clink. [Bloomberg]

* A California woman claims that the Food and Drug Administration’s methods regarding sperm donations are unconstitutional. Why should she have to go to an intermediary to get sperminated? [Huffington Post]

* Do you smell what The Rock is cooking? It’s not exactly something to be proud of. Actor Dwayne Johnson is listed as a “co-conspirator” in a $1.8M fraud lawsuit that’s been filed by a South Florida family. [NBC Miami]

Free speech is a complex area legally, but it’s important to recognize that there are distinctions between one’s ability to express an opinion versus one’s ability to use F.C.C.-regulated airwaves to do so, and also one’s ability to engage in speech versus one’s ability to engage in slander.

Georgetown Law graduate Sandra Fluke, in a New York Times Magazine interview this weekend. Fluke was launched into the national spotlight after Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for speaking out in favor of affordable contraception.

(An additional excerpt from the interview, after the jump.)

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* Dewey still have some folks who owe us money? Yes we do. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Facebook will change its terms of service, specifically regarding the way it handles “sponsored stories” in order to settle a large lawsuit [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* A man opposing a Virginia attorney in a child custody hearing shot at the lawyer outside the courthouse. Luckily, he missed. [Gettysburg Times]

*The Fifth Circuit said yes, the law firm of Smith & Fuller is on the hook for $30,000 for accidentally releasing its client’s secret information. [ABA Journal]

* Recently released interviews with George Zimmerman tell his side of the death of Trayvon Martin. [New York Times]

*The Electronic Frontier Foundation is stepping in represent Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal and the defendant in this mess. [Electronic Frontier Foundation]

Last week, we wrote about the legal spat between online comic artist Matthew Inman, who runs The Oatmeal, and the website FunnyJunk.

The folks at FunnyJunk threatened to sue Inman for copyright infringement and defamation, and the internet comedian responded with another comic, of course, and a plea to his readers to raise $20,000, not for settling the legal threat, but for a “Bear Love” charity campaign on behalf of of the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. (Inman also mentioned something about a drawing of the FunnyJunk attorney’s mother seducing a Kodiak.) In any case, we’re off a pretty good start here, right? Sure, but it gets way better….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hide Your Donations, Hide Your Comic; They Are Suing Everybody Up in Here”

Nadya Suleman aka Octomom

When it comes to Nadya Suleman, aka Octomom, we’ve only mentioned her in passing, and that’s probably because no one actually cares about the woes of a mother of 14 children (holy crap) — come on now, she doesn’t even have her own reality TV show. But it’s hard to feed so many mouths, so back in April, Suleman claimed that she would consider taking any job, as long as the price was right.

Unfortunately for Octomom, dignity was too costly an option. Instead, she’ll be starring in her own [link is quasi-NSFW] masturbation film — set for online release on June 20, and sadly not entitled “Octopussy.” And she’ll be stripping at a Florida venue the second week of July.

Well, she was supposed to show off her sexy C-section scars in mid-July, but she apparently decided to pull out of her contract. If only she hadn’t undergone in vitro fertilization, this would have been great joke fodder.

Now Suleman may be facing an epic lawsuit, but to be honest, we’re surprised that it took this long for someone to threaten to sue her….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Potential Lawsuit of the Day: Octomom Refuses to Ride the Pole at Florida Strip Club”

Last month, we wrote about another in the increasingly long list of Facebook creation story-related lawsuits. The plaintiff in that story was Aaron Greenspan, a college classmate of Mark Zuckerberg. While Greenspan was in school, he created a similar social network to what eventually became Facebook.

Greenspan alleges that he was unfairly omitted from The Social Network, the 2011 film purportedly telling the history of Facebook. Greenspan felt so jilted at being left out of the movie that he sued the company that published The Accidental Billionaires, on which the hit movie was based (affiliate links).

As of of our last story, Greenspan’s suit alleging “defamation by omission” had just been dismissed by a Massachusetts federal judge.

But he appealed the decision to the First Circuit. Over the weekend, he also emailed us, and gave us more detail about his story. Let’s check in and hear what he has to say, along with a colorful deposition story from the old ConnectU case. There’s more than meets the eye to this tenacious programmer turned Facebook nemesis…

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An unfortunate reality of the modern era seems to be that if you stick around creating online content long enough — doesn’t matter what it is — eventually, someone will decide to sue you. It makes no difference if you are a legal blogger or the creator of hilariously nerdy web comics.

Our inbox has been exploding the last few days with tips about The Oatmeal, a popular web comic, facing what appears to be a pretty absurd defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit in and of itself looks fairly spurious, but the best part is the author’s animated response.

Let’s take a look at our Potential Lawsuit of the Day, which serves as a good reminder that if you want to win an online argument, don’t get mad, get funny…

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