A Suffolk County, N.Y. judge ruled that online gripes about a divorce lawyer were pure opinion. [ABA Journal]
“Three lawyers say they were just engaging in legitimate speech about the 1-800-Ask-Gary [lawyer-referral] hot line. Not amused, the people behind Ask Gary sued.” [Tampa Tribune] Separately, the hotline’s founder, Sarasota chiropractor Gary Kompothecras, has drawn press attention for the active role he’s taken in the autism-vaccine wars. [Miami New Times and followups here and here]
A Florida complainant might wind up digging himself a deeper hole, reputation-wise. [Above the Law]
As the East Texas jury was set to begin deliberations. Per Joe Mullin’s must-read coverage at IP Law and Business, Rick Frenkel’s lawyer-critical blog is now entirely closed down even to private readers except as an archive for the use of lawyers in the related litigation. More: Mullin, Sept. 18 (Frenkel “wouldn’t have the financial resources to defend himself” had his employer Cisco not covered his legal costs), Sept. 21 (“You don’t wrestle with a snake, you cut its head off,” said plaintiff T. John (“Johnny”) Ward, Jr. “We shut the blog down, is what we did.”)
Watch what you say about lawyers dept.: a jury will consider the claim of East Texas intellectual property litigator Eric Albritton that he was defamed by Richard Frenkel at his lawyer-critical Patent Troll Tracker blog. The suit also names Frenkel’s employer, Cisco. The blog has “gone private” and is now for invited readers only. [Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, Texas Lawyer] More: AmLaw Daily. Sept. 18: Joe Mullin, IP Law and Business (reporting blog now entirely defunct except as archive for use in defending case).
Ad agency head Scott Brandon sued Donald Wizeman “claiming that Wizeman was the author of Myrtle Beach Insider and that Wizeman had defamed him by publishing a June 2007 post calling him a ‘failed lawyer’ and criticizing one of his ad agency’s campaigns. Wizeman denied that he was the author of Myrtle Beach Insider, but admitted agreeing with its content.” Note, however, some oddities that make the case far from typical: Wizeman did not hire a lawyer at first and claims to have been unaware of some key proceedings that were decided against him, and the judge awarded summary judgment to the plaintiff, which is extremely unusual in defamation cases. [Sam Bayard, Citizen Media Law; Mike Cherney, Myrtle Beach Sun-News]
P.S. Some commenters are reading the case as one of “defendant doesn’t show up to contest complaint, gets hit with default judgment”; I wasn’t sure from the story (and am still not sure) that the sequence of events was that cut and dried. Obviously, it doesn’t count as especially odd if an absent litigant gets hit with a big judgment.
Update Aug. 2009: Case settled [Citizen Media Law]
In a case that sent alarms around the internet, the giant law firm had sued a startup website for supposedly impermissible linking; a judge let the suit go forward, and BlockShopper said it couldn’t afford to defend the case through trial [Alison Grant/Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ambrogi, Wendy Davis/Slate, ABA Journal, settlement agreement (PDF); earlier here, here, here, etc.]