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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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Comments on “Our Response To Arthur Alan Wolk's Threat To Sue Us”

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119 Comments
G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: $100,000,000

Well according to his own comment to a blog post on Simple Justice, where again he threatens to sue using strange, fallacious, and obfuscated reasoning, he is already part of the way there ($89mill) so who knows.. maybe Mike will have to retire RICH… Rich I tells ya!

[See Arthur, the above post YOU made is able to be linked ad infinitum in and out of context forever on the internet.. Welcome to your own induced hell]

Trails (profile) says:

Techwho?!?

I love it when people like Wolk appear to operate under the assumption Mike is some “punk kid” running this out of “his mom’s basement”.

The stereotype acts as such amazing bait for this kind of nonsense.

Can’t wait to see how this ends. Either someone Wolk already trusts will explain to him the pasting he’s likely to get or he’ll actually try to bring all this in front of judge, and get pasted.

MrWilson says:

Re: Techwho?!?

I hate hearing of these types of threats from lawyers. I’ve heard from a number of lawyers in different scenarios where they basically tell people they’re lawyers as a means of getting what they want. It’s like saying, “I’m a pig and we’re both gonna get dirty if you don’t give me what I want, but I’ll like it.”

The fact that they don’t have to pay another high-priced lawyer to file for them is a problem.

I think lawyers should be required to get another lawyer to file for them and the other lawyer needs to have vetted the case and be personally liable for taking it so they can’t just team up to file SLAPP cases for each other.

Non-lawyers and poor people shouldn’t be bullied into giving lawyers what they want just because the lawyers can make their lives hell. A court isn’t necessarily the place to determine if a lawsuit is valid because getting sued is already punishment for someone who can’t afford it.

There needs to be some kind of way to get lawsuits dismissed without having to be a lawyer or retain one or drain your time and effort to defend yourself.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Techwho?!?

Case in point… I got dinged in a small accident while backing out of my driveway (yeah, my bad). The woman who I ‘backed into’ starts ranting and raving about how I’m not supposed to back into the right-of-way (which is kind of correct) and that I should drive into my front yard to turn around to enter the ROW. She KNOWS these things because she’s… wait for it…

A LAWYER [ominous music here]

Well, after the claim played out, her ‘occupation’ changed from lawyer to teacher, down to Special Education assistant. She has tried to claim (CLEARLY) past injuries to my (veeeery) low speed collision, and in my opinion, is towing the line of insurance fraud.

But take a wild guess on how far back my eyes rolled when she said “I know this because I’m a lawyer”.

andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Techwho?!?

I’m afraid your rule does not work. Anyone, whether or not a lawyer, can bring their own suit. We call that filing pro se, and some of those pleadings are rather imaginative.

With that in mind, however, I must admit that Mr. Wolk’s position appears weak, and his judgment in the litigation appears questionable. However, I am not his lawyer, and in fact am not even licensed in his state.

andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Techwho?!?

I’m afraid your rule does not work. Anyone, whether or not a lawyer, can bring their own suit. We call that filing pro se, and some of those pleadings are rather imaginative.

With that in mind, however, I must admit that Mr. Wolk’s position appears weak, and his judgment in the litigation appears questionable. However, I am not his lawyer, and in fact am not even licensed in his state.

Anonymous Coward says:

ultimatum

Maybe it’s the rudeness and belligerence, maybe it’s the disingenuity regarding the Rule 60 motion, maybe it’s the questionable use of legal terms (the judge was defrauded? not just deceived?), maybe it’s the repetitive and overwrought prose style, but something tells me he won’t actually make good on his explicit threats to sue.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if one could take some kind of binding oath to take a certain action, not a contract but something unilateral, but with serious legal consequences for non-fulfillment…

“Retract that article or I’ll sue you!”
“You didn’t say ‘cross my heart and give $500,000 to charity’.”
“Well, I still mean it. Take it down!”
“Say the ‘cross my heart’ part.”
“I don’t have to! Take it down or I’ll see you in court.”
[chicken sounds]

Nicedoggy says:

The punk called Arthur Alan Wolks is just a bully that have nothing better to do.

He deserves to loose, more he deserves to be sanctioned by the courts for abusing the justice system, even though it is a rare fact I’m sure the justice system will end up sanctioning him eventually because he is trully abusing justice already.

http://overlawyered.com/2007/04/arthur-alan-wolk-v-teledyne-industries-inc/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Alan_Wolk

The idiot Arthur Alan Wolk should sue Wikipedia too LoL

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

READ ME

Arthur Alan Wolk
Arthur Alan Wolk

READ ME


you might learn something by reading the links included ……


Nicedoggy … here is a cookie ๐Ÿ™‚

Many lawyers are not techno savvy, they come from an earlier age. They know nothing of Anonymous, the Streisand effect, Human flesh search engines, or the true power of social media. They do not understand that people have a shorter fuse online. People also tend to over react online due to the anonymity. All in all, not a good situation to be on the receiving side of. There is always a tipping point. This man is not near it, but he might piss of the wrong person soon.

The really huge problem with being a dick online, you are up against 2 billion people. You never know if they are going to HBGary you and destroy your future.

It is human nature online, the more this guy fights an unjust fight the more people will talk about him. And much like HBGary, if this guy is doing this to promote himself, it will back fire.

KJ says:

Re: Re:

Mike-

Although it would be (more) work for you, I think that filing this e-mail as a “friend of the court” may be worth your consideration.

It is one thing for Mr. Wolk to disagree with a judicial officer’s ruling, but to directly state or imply that the Judge has been “defrauded” may be a violation of the rules of professional conduct for that jurisdiction.

This may be a bit of an over-reaction, but I am so very angry due to Mr. Wolk’s disrespect not only for the judicial process and the Constitution, but also for officers of the court. Judge > Mr. Wolk.

Keep up the good fight.

Charles says:

Here is how i see it. Wolk should just stick to chasing ambulances….Oops sorry hes a aviation lawyer. Yea, my point is mr. wolk if you are reading this.. Is to simply say that you are the one who is actually destroying your own name and making yourself like like a horses @$$. My point is just shut up and move on or you really will be the butt of everyone’s joke.

Seriously keep in mind that in this day and age if you open your mouth and attempt to swallow your own foot then this is exactly what you get. Now i am sure techdirt may not let this out onto their comments section and if so then i completely understand but if they do… Come attempt to sue me and i promise i will make sure you are written all over the damn place.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Hilarious

> That is a hilarious threat letter. The funniest part though
> is towards the end when he starts confusing defamation
> with libel. I’m not even a lawyer and I know the difference
> between the two…

Libel *is* a type of defamation. Defamation is a broad category of the law which includes both libel and slander.

Matt (profile) says:

Good reason for judicial reform

We have a policy in the US that the courts should be open to everyone. This is a stupid policy. As good as it makes folks feel to say otherwise, the fact is that most lawsuits are little more than legalized extortion. The threat of them moreso. They cost too much to defend, so people settle rather than doing so.

To counteract this, we need a wave of judicial reform. First and foremost, we need to put more teeth into Rule 11 (the rule that provides that attorneys who sign pleadings that lack a good faith factual basis and legal foundation may themselves be sanctioned). It is seldom enforced, and not because pleadings are so well-founded.

Next, Rules 12 and 56 need to be implemented with some intellectual honesty. Complaints that are so implausible as to sound like fantasy should be dismissed immediately absent compelling evidence. The SCOTUS took a step in the right direction with Twombly and its progeny, but the lower courts have not yet pushed their newly reemphasized authority far enough.

Finally, plaintiffs should be made to post a bond equal to the likely defense cost of the case, and forfeit it if they lose. This probably will not result in denying access – even the very poor will likely be able to post the bond, provided they can convince an attorney or an insurer that their case is merited. But ridiculous plaintiffs will not be able to fund these sorts of serial lawsuits. (Note that sanctions alone will not ever do the trick – many strategic lawsuits are filed by impecunious “judgment-proof” plaintiffs.)

Here, however, there may be additional protection. Mr. Wolk is a member of the Pennsylvania bar. As such, he is sworn to follow its rules of professional conduct. That includes an obligation not to file unmeritorious claims, lie in communications to non-clients, say anything that he knows or should know will be publicized and could affect the outcome of litigation, make false claims about judges, request a party other than his client to refrain from giving information about a cause, etc. Rule 3.1 has been interpreted to mean that a lawyer may not threaten legal action. To all appearances, Mr. Wolk is an effective and experienced litigator, and I am sure that he knows and has internalized his professional obligations. But it looks to me like he is warming right up to the line with these throw-down challenges.

http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/204/chapter81/s3.1.html
http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/204/chapter81/s4.1.html
http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/204/chapter81/s3.6.html
http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/204/chapter81/s8.2.html
http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/204/chapter81/s3.4.html

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Good reason for judicial reform

Finally, plaintiffs should be made to post a bond equal to the likely defense cost of the case, and forfeit it if they lose. This probably will not result in denying access – even the very poor will likely be able to post the bond, provided they can convince an attorney or an insurer that their case is merited.

They would only post the bond for slam-dunk cases, if there even is such a thing. If you ran a law firm, would you rather post the bond for someone who can’t do it themselves and maybe lose it, or take a client who can post the bond themselves and thus take all the risk? This would basically just tilt the court system even more in favor of the rich.

Ben in TX (profile) says:

Is name-calling defamation?

I only ask because I would LOVE to call Mr. Wolk a small-minded, petulant, ignorant, Streisand-Effect-Generating PRICK… but I’m a little worried he might sue me if I did go so far as to actually call him anything like that. So I won’t.

In any case, I hardly need to go so far as to call Mr. Wolk anything. He’s apparently doing his best to call down the power of all the interwebs upon his own tiny head. One has to wonder what sort of rose-colored lens he looks through when viewing his own actions because, as the readers of this site are well aware, he will likely soon start to suffer the ill effects of his own actions, and I suspect he may regret them very soon.

dwg says:

Re: Re: Is name-calling defamation?

What you can’t couch as “opinion” is that he’s a thief, a liar or a lousy lawyer, without expecting some kind of reprisal. You can’t do this because you probably mean these statements to be taken as true, despite your attempted disclaimer. In addition to straight defamation, he could also, as a lawyer, claim trade libel, which sucks for a defendant.

If, on the other hand, you have demonstrable proof that they’re true, you can say them all you want. You can sing them loud, and to the hills, as it were. So, if anyone has proof of these things…

Scam says:

Stupid Stupid Man

I love how he has managed to ruin his reputation while trying so hard to save it.

Also, while lying about someone might defamation, calling them names is very legal. So Mr. Wolk, you are a stupid, insecure, pompous, cunt nosed fuck face dickhead, with cockroach piss for brains you dirty jerkoff piece of shit asshole.

Jim_G says:

I think some folks in this thread might be underestimating the illusion Volk is under regarding his level of victimization. When a person or agency feels like they have been wronged somehow a whole series of reactions get triggered. Unfortunately a common one is ?I am a hero who is standing up for my rights!?

Consider Mike?s comment on Righthaven, ??What amazes me is how incredibly tone deaf Righthaven appears to be to the repeated smackdowns it is getting from judges and how weak its legal position is. . . It seems like Righthaven still thinks that these rulings aren’t that big of a deal.? Look at the FBI?s accusation that Apple is acting ?Big-Brother-ish? because people would have the ability to delete information from their own phones.

These people are sure that THEY are the good guys. And they will any interpret any criticisms, reactions, or reasonable disagreement as further evidence that they are correct.

Avatar28 (profile) says:

Wow. It’s been three hours and nobody has yet posted “Arthur Alan Wolks is a pedophile / zoophile who rapes children / pets.” Raping Adolph Hitler with a frying pan is the closest I’ve seen. Usually there are at least two or three such comments after a few hours. I guess his campaign of legal tyranny was successful.

If only someone would give him a reason to make legal threats against 4chan, the internet could rid itself of another pestilence.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Reading this, and actually having read all of the original lawsuit (though it took time, a lot of coffee, and a fair amount of grains of salt… and with the awful need to wash my hands afterwards) and then this denial of the rule 60, not to mention his responses to the blog post written by Eugene Volokh That comments were made on by Mr Wolk himself and the replies to his comments that say it all.. (especially M. Gross’s query about an attorney speaking about an ongoing case. Any Ethical probs there Mr Wolk? Even whilst Pro Se ? hmmmm)

This emphasises, reinforces and unequivocally supports my original comment on the supposedly defamatory TechDirt Article that I will now republish (yes republish) in full!

To paraphrase Marcus Tullius Cicero [106-43 BCE]

There is no opinion so stupid that it can?t be expressed by some dumbass attorney.

Also I would like to add to this with a quote by Lawrence Sterne

Your head be likened to a smokejack, the funnel unswept, and the ideas whirling round and round about in it, all obfuscated and darkened over with fuliginous matter.

and draw Mr Wolks attention to a fascinating article about The Basic Laws of Stupidity.

KGWagner (profile) says:

Clueless people

I’m not sure why, but this reminds me of the Jerry Taylor/Tuttle, AZ/CentOS debacle. That was an incident completely unrelated to this, but you saw the same sort of thing happen where a supposed professional thought he was the “injured” party and was so far off base you could see it unaided from outer space, but was so unaware of the fact that it became a widespread joke.

I suspect what happens is at some point the “injured” party becomes so invested in the fiction of their idea that there’s simply no reasoning with them. In their mind, they have to hold their ground or risk being labelled a fool.

Sad part is, it’s the Streisand Effect at full-tilt boogie. The more they fight, the more foolish they look and the more people are looking. It becomes a train-wreck spectacle you can’t look away from.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Mr. Wolk

After reading descriptions of your actions, I am of the opinions that you are an idiot and are abusing the legal system for your own ego-stroking/wound-licking. I personally believe you should be disbarred for your actions and taken out back behind a woodshed and beaten with a razor strop.

I truly hope you career is ruined and ended over this because it will have been by your own actions and you’ll have that wonderful opportunity to see the outcome of your choices and actions.

So in closing, you’re a dick.

Wayne (profile) says:

dumba55

A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client and you, Mr Wolk, are a fool.

If you would like to sue me please do because I think you are a complete and total waste of space although thank god you decided to be a lawyer and not something useful or important that people actually need like an underarm deodorant sniff tester, or a bubble gum pre-chewer even those idiots from Westboro Baptist church have more value than you do. I don’t understand how this guy can win an 89 million trial award and be this clueless. I mean does he really think anyone is all that concerned about being sued by him? Lawyers, Politicians and used car salesmen are all people that this world would be better off without. We can f**k up the world without their expert help.

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