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Freedom of Speech in the Cyberworld Context Continued

Our previous blog post, we discussed the ramifications of posting online reviews anonymously. In that case, a state appeals court ruled that in order to enforce a subpoena for the identities of former employees who had commented anonymously on the workplace review site, the plaintiff must prove the falsity of the comments and suffer a financial loss. A similar issue was revisited by the courts in a situation where alleged defamatory remarks were made and photos in support of remarks were also retrieved by trespass onto the property by an incident of various online reviews and the defendant happened to be a landlord.

More specifically, the decision pertaining to this incident happened to be a real estate entrepreneur with properties in three different states  and claimed that Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, as well as, flyers distributed near his home, accused him of being a “greedy slumlord,” who subjected his tenants and neighborhoods to bad conditions. The defendants were sued because it hosted the web sites and possessed real estate interests which could potentially damage his business. The complaint alleged diversity jurisdiction.

Accordingly, plaintiff proceeded to file an ex parte motion for early discovery seeking to identify his critics. In these motions, any relevant section of law which could apply or the basis for his assertion of diversity jurisdiction was never mentioned. The other party wanted to move to dismiss and seek sanctions for frivolous litigation. It had to then be pointed out to the trial judge that the lawsuit pending before him lacked any jurisdiction, and was not a proper basis for the issuance of federal court subpoenas for that reason.

At that point,  the basis of the claim was changed as the plaintiff wanted to reserve the possibility of suing any of the other residents that his earlier papers had accused of being involved in the campaign to defame him through his federal discovery later on.

The court ruled that diversity in the lawsuit could not be issued, this decision was made pending discovery since the basis for jurisdiction needed to be shown.  In conjunction with the prior case discussed where an employer filed anonymously against an employer and in light of the circumstances of this case, it appears that on face value cases would be more likely to decide in favor of free speech.

A major distinction between the cases is that in that decision, the financial loss must be sustained and remarks false.  In this decision, discovery was being used as the basis for determining the persons for whom the real claim was against.  Just because a plaintiff thinks that the defendants have diverse citizenship was no basis for a claim.  The court further held that he could not use federal court subpoenas to find out who they were. 

https://www.citizen.org/our-work/litigation/cases/vogel-v-godaddy

http://pubcit.typepad.com/clpblog/2017/07/two-new-decisions-support-the-right-to-speak-anonymously.html

http://www.4-traders.com/GODADDY-INC-21452893/news/Godaddy-Two-Court-Rulings-Confir

m-Internet-Users-First-Amendment-Rights-Online-24814097/

Our Wheaton IL libel and slander lawyers concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases including cases representing a high profile athlete against a well known radio shock jock, a consumer sued by a large car dealer in federal court for negative internet reviews and videos, one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired, a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois.

Our Chicago defamation attorneys defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Hinsdale and Winnetka who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and off line media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.

Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business law suits involving injunctions, and TROS, defamation, libel, and covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud or defamatory attacks on their business and reputations.

DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s DuPage County defamation and slander lawyers near Highland Park and Deerfield have more than three decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Lisle and Westmont, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.

If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business on line at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at (877) 990-4990 or online by filling out our contact us form.