Libel

This looks rather disgusting, but that’s just my (non-actionable) opinion.

As online review sites like Yelp and social-media sites like Twitter continue to grow, free speech issues related to these online services will continue to proliferate. A contentious case currently pending in federal court down in Florida raises a host of interesting issues about the scope of online free speech.

The plaintiff company, Roca Labs, sells a product that you consume for weight-control purposes. If this makes you think of delicious almond roca, think again. Components used by Roca Labs in its diet products include “Guar Gum, Konjac, Inulin, Beta Glucan, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, [and] Vitamins B6, B12, C.” If you don’t recognize most of the ingredients in something you’re consuming, that’s usually not a good sign.

Does the thought of eating that goo make you want to gag? Well, Roca Labs wants to gag you….

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Courtney Love

* Parties in Utah’s gay marriage case are boosting their legal backbones. Utah picked up Gene Schaerr, of Winston & Strawn, who is leaving the firm to serve as lead outside counsel. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called upon Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn to assist with Bridgegate’s fallout. Because messing with people’s commutes into New York City is that big of a deal. [Am Law Daily]

* Come next year, Yale Law School will be joining the majority of law schools located on this planet by holding its fall finals before winter break. They’ll still be studying anyway… just for fun! [Yale Daily News]

* “Being in Portland … is hard to facilitate when you are based in Eugene.” Oregon Law, sadly unable to master the fine art of teleportation, will allow students to take their 3L classes in Portland as soon as in 2015. [National Law Journal]

* Courtney Love was in court this week testifying in the first “Twibel” (Twitter + libel) trial in the nation. Oh, that’s so interesting, but what America really wants to know is what she was wearing. [Businessweek]

Last summer, we brought you a tale about some mom-and-dad law grads who had been accused of planting a potpourri of drugs and drug paraphernalia in a school aide’s car for her apparent failure to “properly supervise” their child. At the time, Kent Wycliffe Easter (UCLA Law ’98) and Jill Bjorkholm Easter (Boalt Hall ’98) were charged with conspiracy to procure a false arrest, false imprisonment, and conspiracy to falsely report a crime.

The pair later pleaded not guilty, but were indicted for those crimes in October. A fact that hasn’t been trumpeted from the rooftops — perhaps it wasn’t salacious enough? — is that according to court records, the complaint against the Easters was dismissed in November.

UPDATE (6/26/2013): But note that the grand jury indictment is still pending.

Kent and Jill Easter are understandably upset after having been dragged through the mud for so long, regardless of the fact they’re still under indictment. And so, like any lawyer would do, the Easters are now suing several parties for defamation….

Please note the UPDATES throughout this post.

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* Federal judges are going to keep getting their cost of living raises. Sequestration be damned! [CBS DC]

* Florida passes “anti-Sharia law” law. Accidentally outlaws Jewish divorce instead. [Gawker]

* Why are people so stupid? Legal threat based on the name of a blog. Not the actual content, just the name. In a related note, we’d like to let everyone know that if we write about you, you are not, in fact, “above the law.” [Popehat]

* This is curious. Convicted of stealing $1 million dollars and walking away without jail time. And no written opinion to explain it. Moral of the story? Commit your crimes in Judge Carney’s court. [Navelgazing / OC Weekly]

* You’ve got to move fast if you want to take the profit off a disaster. Best part? A tipster says the explosion pictured isn’t even of the fertilizer plant explosion. [Baron & Budd]

* Newsmax videoed an interview with Logan Beirne, author of Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency (affiliate link). Apparently, George Washington was a badass. No kidding. [Newsmax]

* Well you must have expected something like this. Michael Shannon delivers a dramatic reading of the sorority girl’s memorable cease and desist letter….

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Lance Armstrong

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not for Lance. His hemoglobin unnaturally oxygenated, Lance was going to hop on his banana seat and literally ride off into the sunset. He was just going to take his ball and go home. And other jokes about his chosen profession and/or lack of testicles, plural.

Tomorrow, Lance Armstrong appears before our nation’s high priestess of contrition to blubber and wail. Lance Armstrong cheated in a sport that very few people in this country care about. I’ve written about this before. And before that. I have great difficulty ginning up the proper amount of outrage, schadenfreude, or whatever it is you’re supposed to feel when a world class athlete and jerk gets nailed like this.

It’s for this reason that the home stretch of this column will be written by a guest columnist. This writer was well-known for thriving in a sport that, like cycling, was similarly plagued by drug abuse and scandal.

I’m talking, of course, about….

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A 43-year-old trust fund baby?

Talk about #RichPeopleProblems. And #DaddyIssues.

A prominent Manhattan lawyer is suing his own daughter. For libel. Because she allegedly harmed his reputation. By seeking an accounting of her trust fund. Which he set up for her and reportedly administers. Got that?

Yes, Dad v. Daughter. How could something this messed-up not be our Lawsuit of the Day? Especially given the claimed size of the trust fund, stocked with such goodies as Hamptons real estate?

It’s hard to get one’s head around these allegations, but the litigation is for real. Let’s take a look at the competing claims. And how much the trust fund was supposedly worth at one point — we’re talking seven figures here….

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Watch out Tianna, your parents are right behind you…

You can run all the way to the Olympics, but you can’t hide from your family (rim shot).

It’s always nice when an Olympic story of overcoming hardship results in a lawsuit for libel and slander. Olympic sprinter Tianna Madison won the gold medal as part of the U.S. Women’s 4×100 relay. During the Olympics, Madison revealed that she had been the victim of molestation and that her parents had mismanaged her finances.

To which her parents said, “What”?

So, Madison’s parents did what most loving parents would do when their daughter says something they disagree with — they filed a lawsuit….

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The threat of getting sued for libel or defamation has always hung over the heads of media professionals, now particularly so in the blogging era. The truth is always the clearest, simplest defense when faced with libel claims. But there are other, less direct avenues one can pursue as a defense, if need be.

A lawsuit recently dismissed against Gizmodo shows off one of the more commonly overlooked ways to bolster a defense against defamation. Let’s just say there’s often a reason bloggers like to include all those hyperlinks…

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Half of it’s nonsense, and the other half is more nonsense.

Tony Abbatangelo, referring to blog comments in the course of responding to a defamation suit filed against his client, an anonymous internet commenter known only as “Lawyer.”

(What are the salacious comments that “Lawyer” is being sued over? Find out, after the jump.)

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Paisley Dickey (left) and Pretty Woman (right)

You don’t have to watch much reality television to understand that these days, many cable networks are trying to capitalize on the drama caused by little girls and their overbearing stage mothers. Take, for example, TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras, a show that that gives viewers an inside look at the often controversial world of children’s beauty pageants. Apparently the resultant mother and daughter tantrums were just too good to keep off the airwaves.

But in late 2011, viewers expressed outrage over the pageant industry’s tendency to sexualize children. After all, with mothers dressing their daughters like surgically-enhanced country singers, fake breasts and all, or hookers with hearts of gold, how could viewers be anything but horrified? In all honesty, some of these little girls — the ones who don’t aspire to be tax lawyers, at least — look like complete prosti-tots (see above).

This backdrop brings us to today’s Lawsuit of the Day, where the mother of one of these tiara-toting toddlers alleges that a well-known celebrity gossip site had a hand in scandalizing her daughter….

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