Our Response To Arthur Alan Wolk's Threat To Sue Us
from the we-will-not-be-bullied dept
As you may have seen, two days ago, we put up a post discussing a lawsuit filed by well-known aviation attorney Arthur Alan Wolk, making a variety of claims against (mostly) a bunch of bloggers, mostly focused on the claim of defamation. I will not rehash the details of that post, but you can read it yourself. In writing that post, I took care not to say anything defamatory about Mr. Wolk, and before posting it even asked a lawyer to review it to make sure that nothing I wrote put me at risk of a valid defamation claim. Since writing that post, a few important things related to this story have happened.
- Wolk dismissed the specific lawsuit we wrote about and immediately refiled it, on August 1st, adding Paul Alan Levy and the organization he works for, Public Citizen, to the lawsuit for Levy’s blog post on Wolk’s suit. Levy was served on August 2nd.
- Wolk has filed two more lawsuits over this matter, one in New York, against Ted Frank and the Manhattan Institute, and another in California against Reason and its authors and bloggers over these same issues.
- Wolk’s Rule 60 Motion was denied. As you may recall, Wolk had filed this motion in an attempt to effectively reopen his original defamation case against Overlawyered, which had been dismissed on the judge’s determination that the filing was “time-barred when he
commenced it” and that the case was dismissed “on statute of limitations grounds.” However, on Tuesday, the judge rejected the Rule 60 Motion and the original ruling stands. I will quote the new court ruling from Tuesday:
The plaintiff has not convinced the Court that the defendants? change in blogging software, which effectively renamed the files associated with the defendants? online content, constitutes newly discovered evidence that warrants extraordinary relief or that the defendants engaged in fraud or misconduct by not disclosing the change. The Court is skeptical that renaming a computer file and adding additional features to a website would constitute republication of the underlying article where the actual content of the article remained the same and the content was displayed on the same domain (here, Overlawyered.com). However, even assuming that such a change would restart the statute of limitations, the Court finds that the change in file names associated with the change in blogging platforms could have been discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence and that the extraordinary remedy of Rule 60(b) is not warranted in this case.
- On Wednesday morning, August 3rd (the day after the Rule 60 Motion was denied), we received the following email from Arthur Alan Wolk:
I have read your article about my lawsuit and clearly you didn’t read it or don’t understand English. I suggest you review Courthouse News Service and then carefully rewrite and republish your article. I do not care what criticism you make but if you are going to defame me you better investigate the facts and be correct or you will be sued.
You relied I believe on an equally erroneous posting by Paul Alan levy which is why he is now sued. Let me be very clear. I believe in the First Amendment but at the same time your abuse of it will not stand without a fight. I gave everyone including Mr. Levy and all the defendants in my lawsuit the opportunity to correctly report what they want and each declined. Fix this lying false and absurdly malicious article or I will sue you.
I filed my original lawsuit on time. The judge was defrauded. The record is clear on that and if you had made even the slightest effort to read the complaint, read the Rule 60 Motion or anything else before running off at the mouth you would have known that. I am giving you the opportunity to correct your site without liability for your libel. Take or leave it ,your choice but suing you for libeling me is mine. Catchy title for your site. tech “dirt”. You won’t dirty my name without answering in court for it.
Arthur Alan Wolk
Note that, in his email to us, Wolk points us to his Rule 60 Motion as proof, even though he sent us this email a day after that Motion was denied by the court.
We believe, quite strongly, in the First Amendment, and in our right to report factually on news, especially when it concerns public figures and lawsuits of public interest. Stating factual information about court rulings is not defamation. Stating our opinion on such lawsuits is not defamation. We have heard of multiple other bloggers who have decided that they simply will not write anything about Arthur Alan Wolk out of fear of being sued by him. This is, we believe, exactly what Wolk is seeking with these threats and lawsuits. We do not intend to be silenced via such threats.
Filed Under: arthur alan wolk