Bogus Lawsuit Plus Threats To Those Who Write About It Leads To Epic Response

from the how-not-to-go-legal dept

Reader Jason sent over a blog post that sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, following the story through a variety of twists and turns. The key player in the story is Jonathan Monsarrat, who among other things founded the video game company Turbine (Asheron’s Call, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, etc.). In early 2010, Monsarrat was arrested concerning events at a party in Massachusetts. The charges against him were later dismissed. However, there were various blog discussions among local bloggers and commenters. Not long ago, approximately three years after all of this happened, Monsarrat sued two named defendants and 100 “John Does” in a Massachusetts (not federal) court on a variety of charges, centering around defamation, but also including copyright infringement, commercial disparagement, deceptive trade practices and conspiracy. He’s asking for an astounding $5.5 million.

Reading through that complaint first, before digging deeply into a variety of other sources, there were some immediate oddities. Many of the “defamatory” statements didn’t seem to have anything that could possibly be defamatory in them. Some of them possibly reached the level of defamation, but at worst they read like typical silly hyperbole among internet commenters. Hardly worth worrying about. But other stuff seemed even odder. A copyright claim not in federal court? And for what sounded like adding context/imagery to a news article? Hmmm. That doesn’t sound right. State copyright claims are pre-empted by federal copyright law (and, no, this isn’t one of those possible exceptions involving pre-1972 recordings). Commercial disparagement? Over some blog comments? There were a lot of alarm bells, signalling something that required a lot deeper look.

Then, I came across the actual news reports of his arrest — both the Boston Globe one linked above and the Wicked Local story. Both seem to be pretty clear that they’re reporting based directly off of a police report — and state things from that police report that Monsarrat is now claiming are entirely untrue and defamatory. But… for those who repeated them on the blog, even if they did turn out to be untrue, they’d have an incredibly strong fair report privilege claim. For example, the lawsuit suggests that Monsarrat was just a guest at the house and knew little of the party before it happened. From his filing:

The party leading to Plaintiff’s arrest was hosted by another third party, “Trano”, and not by Plaintiff.

This other third party, Trano, provided music entertainment, bouncers and beer at this party, which Plaintiff knew nothing about until the immediate time leading up to the commencement of the party.

The non-use of Trano’s full name is also an interesting choice. Anyway, according to the Boston Globe coverage of the incident:

Upon arriving at the scene, police found broken beer bottles near the door of the first floor of the apartment and 25-30 teenagers inside. Many were attempting to conceal bottles of beer and other alcoholic beverages, the police report states. Open bottles of alcohol were found in the kitchen area as well as a small amount of marijuana.

Monsarrat identified himself as the host of the party, but denied that any alcohol was being served, the report states. When asked by an officer to inform his guests that the party was ending, Monsarrat became “argumentative” and refused to follow instructions, police said. Officers asked for identification from several partygoers who responded, “We’re in high school, we don’t have ID.”

Then the story gets even odder. In researching it, up popped a press release from Monsarrat himself about the lawsuit, in which he refers to himself as a “dotcom era icon and Internet expert.” Also, there’s this:

Jon Monsarrat announced this week that as part of an Internet defamation case, he will expose the real identities and addresses of 100 cyber bullies as part of his new cyber investigation service.

Oh, wait a second…

Earlier in 2013 he created a cyber-investigation service, which cracks the real identities of cyber bullies who post defamatory material online. The release of names and identities is part of this new service, for one of Monsarrat’s client with an ongoing legal case against cyber bullies. His company is working in partnership with Defend My Name, perhaps the most technically advanced of the top anti-defamation services, and Ishman Law Firm, which has expertise in defending victims from cyber-attack.

Jon Monsarrat said, “Cyber bullies harass and spread lies about their victims using the power of the Internet, which leads to thousands of suicides a year. The police and courts are not always up to the challenge of fighting back. Now I’m bringing two patented technologies to bear to help people in need.” Monsarrat was referring to his two patents in collecting and analyzing data from public websites.

This might present a possible reason that it took about three years after the original blog posts to file a lawsuit (by the way, statute of limitations on defamation in Massachusetts: three years).

And then, a bunch of LiveJournal users — including some who claimed they never commented on the original blog post — began receiving letters saying that they’re being added to the lawsuit. Apparently, those letters have some bogus boilerplate in them claiming copyright on the letter and stating “I prohibit anyone from publishing or disclosing it in whole or in part, on the internet or any other venue or any other means, without first obtaining my written consent.” That, of course, is bullshit. It is not how copyright works, especially on a legal threat letter. At least one blogger has written that Monsarrat threatened to include him in the lawsuit for merely writing about the lawsuit and for the comments others had left on that blog. Of course, there is no legitimate claim against writing about the lawsuit, and the blogger is protected from liability from the comments under Section 230 of the CDA.

Then, and only then, did I finally get to reading the epic response letter from the lawyer representing Ron Newman, one of the two named defendants in the lawsuit. The lawyer is Dan Booth of Booth Sweet LLC, a law firm you may recognize from its awesome job fighting back against numerous Prenda Law cases. I cannot do justice to the entire 18 page letter, so I suggest you read it in its entirety, but I will give you a few highlights. I will note that this is not a legal document filed with the court in response to the lawsuit, but rather a letter to Monsarrat’s lawyer, Mark Ishman, of the Ishman Law Firm, which Monsarrat’s press release names as a “partner” in this new “expose-the-cyber-bully” business.

The letter picks apart the case piece by piece in devastating fashion, noting repeatedly that the claims made in the lawsuit are so far removed from reasonable that if Ishman and Monsarrat do not drop the lawsuit, Booth and Newman will seek sanctions for bringing bad faith claims. He then goes on to lay out, in excruciating detail, what their arguments would be in court, repeatedly asking Ishman if he’s ever actually read the statutes he’s relying on. He notes the articles based on police reports as just a starting point. He then points specifically to the few quotes that were actually Newman’s, showing how the complaint appears to take them entirely out of context and misrepresent what they were saying, and there is simply no way they were even remotely defamatory. Some of them are ridiculous when put back into context — including using a comment about how Newman and some other admins had agreed to close the original thread to more comments, and saying that was defamatory. It also, of course, references CDA 230 to point out that Newman clearly is not liable for anyone else’s comments.

Those are the basics. Then it goes even deeper. I’ll let Dan Booth handle this part:

The second claim for relief is supposed to be under Chapter 93A of the Massachusetts General Laws. Have you ever actually read that statute? I’m not sure you made it all the way through to Section 9(3), which requires that a demand letter complying with certain statutory requirements must be mailed to a defendant at least 30 days before filing suit under Chapter 93A. “[T]he thirty-day requirement, as part of the requirement of a written demand for relief, is a prerequisite to suit, to be alleged and proved.” York v. Sullivan, 369 Mass. 157, 163 (1975). Perhaps you jumped the gun a bit here? You filed suit on February 4, so you would have needed to send a demand letter before January 5, 2013 to satisfy the statute. Mr. Newman received no such letter. As far as I can tell, you didn’t even comply with the spirit of the 30-day requirement — you made no attempt to settle the dispute amicably before filing suit, or before filing the amended complaint, or before having it (and its telephone-book sized pile of exhibits) served on Mr. Newman.

How about the commercial disparagement stuff? Yeah, under the law, such statements need to be made by a competitor, which Newman clearly isn’t. Oh, and Booth notes he didn’t actually disparage any products or services, as required by the law. And then we move on to the copyright claim. We already noted the oddity of trying to shove a copyright claim into a state (okay Massachusettians: commonwealth) court, and Booth highlights some more problems:

Attorney Ishman, I see on your website that you hold yourself forth publicly as a copyright lawyer. I am too. I commend you for that, and for any work you do to legitimately support and protect creators. I like copyright law a lot; I just hate to see it abused. So I wonder whether you may have gotten a bit ahead of yourself with this cause of action.

Claims of common-law copyright are preempted by the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. Have you read that statute? Since the 1976 Copyright Act became effective, Section 301 has explained that copyright claims are “governed exclusively” by the Act, and that “no person is entitled to any such [copyright] or equivalent right in any such work [within the subject matter of copyright] under the common law or statutes of any State.” 17 U.S.C. § 301(a).

In other words, common-law copyright claims are a relic. “Under the Copyright Act of 1976 … common law copyright is abolished.” Burke v. NBC, Inc., 598 F.2d 688, 691 n.2 (1st Cir. 1979). There have been no reported cases in Massachusetts state courts since the 1976 Act in which a common-law copyright was found valid. But there have been several that say things like, “These common law claims … have clearly been preempted by the 1976 Copyright Act.” Sicari v. Raccula, 2 Mass. L. Rep. 109 (Mass. Super. Ct. May 8, 1994). To the extent such claims exist, they’re generally limited to media where, due to quirks of the Act’s history, no statutory right ever existed, such as extemporaneous speeches or pre-1972 sound recordings. But the copyright claim in this case concerns a photograph, and those have been covered by the Copyright Act since Oscar Wilde was a young man. Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53 (1884). Your assertion that Mr. Monsarrat’s images are “subject to common-law copyright protection under the laws of the state of Massachusetts” (Complaint ¶ 102) is wrong as a matter of black-letter law.

Booth even goes through a “sake of argument” explanation for how, even if common-law copyright could apply to a photograph (which, as noted, it cannot), via Monsarrat’s own actions, that photograph would be in the public domain under the specifics of the prevailing copyright law.

Booth then goes on to point out when you look at Newman’s actual comments, he actually was quite even handed when the story broke, noting things like, “To my knowledge he hasn’t been found guilty of any crime in a court of law.” And he invited Monsarrat to present his side of the story. And yet, Monsarrat tries to paint Newman’s activity as “extreme and outrageous” for the sake of “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

And then, Booth goes on to point out that the record suggests the version of the story that Monsarrat presents in his filing is less than accurate:

Those assertions are directly contradicted by the record. Set aside the fact that Mr. Monsarrat was at the party and that he was arrested at the party. Set aside the fact that both the police report and the Somerville Journal article stated plainly that Mr. Monsarrat had “identified himself as the host of the party.” Set aside the fact that the police report indicates that Mr. Monsarrat denied, to the arresting officer, that there was any alcohol at the party, despite the officer’s firsthand observations. Mr. Monsarrat publicly announced his role in the party online, before his arrest. As Mr. Newman pointed out at the time, Mr. Monsarrat had posted an open invitation on his Wheel Questions blog, announcing that he was holding the party, two days before it happened. Complaint Exhibit 4 p. 69 (“I’m holding a party Friday in the Boston area. RSVP to and say a little about yourself for the location.”) (quoting Mr. Monsarrat). If Mr. Monsarrat wants to clear his name by suggesting that he was a mere innocent bystander at the party, he cannot hope to succeed in rewriting the public record. His own words will be admissible as non-hearsay, to prove the truth of his statements identifying himself as the host, and to disprove statements to the contrary in the complaint. See Commonwealth v. DiMonte, 427 Mass. 233, 243 (1998) (“A party’s admission is excluded by definition from the hearsay rule.”) (citing Proposed Mass. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)); see also Flood v. Southland Corp,. 33 Mass. App. Ct. 287, 294-95 (1992).

And we’re not done yet. He points out that many of the comments included in the claim are way outside the statute of limitations, and Massachusetts has a well established single publication rule, meaning that the date when the content is published is when the clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations. The fact that the content remains online is meaningless. Booth also points out the ridiculousness of the $5 million dollar demand.

The complaint seeks punitive damages in an amount to exceed $5,000,000. That is outrageous on its face, and wholly unsustainable under controlling law. Massachusetts has not allowed such damages since 1974. “In a case of defamation the plaintiff’s recovery is limited to actual damages, which are compensatory for the wrong done by the defendant. … Punitive damages are never allowed … even after proof of actual malice.” Stone v. Essex County Newspapers, Inc., 365 Mass. 246 (1974) (citations omitted). The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts reaffirmed that position the following year: “We reject the allowance of punitive damages in this Commonwealth in any defamation action, on any state of proof, whether based in negligence, or reckless or wilful conduct. We so hold in recognition that the possibility of excessive and unbridled jury verdicts, grounded on punitive assessments, may impermissibly chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by promoting apprehensive self-censorship.” Stone v. Essex County Newspapers, Inc., 367 Mass. 849, 860 (1975).

As for the letters that various LiveJournal users are receiving:

It is my understanding that Mr. Monsarrat has busied himself, since the filing of the amended complaint, by reaching out to people he believes responsible for these three-year old discussions, sending them wildly improper threatening letters and/or directly confronting in person. In at least one of those letters, he states, “The purpose of this correspondence to is [sic] notify you that I am suing LiveJournal forum moderator Ron Newman for $5,500,000 for defamation, and that you are named as a Doe Defendant in this lawsuit…” These actions are deeply dismaying. Mr. Monsarrat is tarnishing Mr. Newman’s name in scattershot fashion, to many people who may have had no relation to the postings at issue. He may not harass people in the Somerville community by seeking to intimidate them into removing their legitimate free speech comments.

Booth also points out that in intimidating various LiveJournal users into possibly removing their comments, there may be further issues with regard to encouraging the destruction of key pieces of evidence:

When Mr. Monsarrat succeeds in this intimidation, he helps to destroy the record that would be at issue if the litigation were to proceed. If this pattern of behavior continues, he may be subjecting himself to sanctions for suborning spoliation. Thanks to poor formatting, many of the Complaint’s Exhibits reproduce discussion threads in piecemeal fashion, omitting much or all of the text of longer comments. See, for just one example, Complaint Exhibit 4 pp. 31-42. These fragmentary Exhibits leave the original online discussions as the only reliable source of material evidence. Any deletion of those comments, as Mr. Monsarrat demands, makes them invisible to subsequent viewers, depriving defendants of the context-specific defenses that a defamation claim requires. “‘The destruction of relevant evidence … has a pernicious effect on the truthfinding function of our courts.’ … The doctrine of spoliation permits the imposition of sanctions or remedies where a litigant or its expert negligently or intentionally loses or destroys evidence that the litigant (or expert) knows or reasonably should know might be relevant to a possible action, even when the spoliation occurs before an action has been commenced.” Scott v. Garfield, 454 Mass. 790, 797 (2009) (quoting Fletcher v. Dorchester Mut. Ins. Co., 437 Mass. 544, 553 (2002)).

Booth also notes the same press release I saw, and raises some questions about it:

It appears this action has been filed with an ulterior purpose: not as a good faith means to redress any legitimate grievances, but as a case study to be used in marketing one of Mr. Monsarrat’s business ventures. That would be more than improper enough, but worse, the entire purpose of “cyber investigation service” seems to be to empower litigants to make endruns around the discovery process, as Mr. Monsarrat has done.

And, also, the oddity of the fact that Ishman appears to be both a lawyer for Monsarrat and a business partner:

This partnership, in the place of a putative client and attorney relationship, is more than irregular. It may subject Attorney Ishman and his law firm to the same liability as Mr. Monsarrat, based on their involvement in a larger scheme. See Kurker v. Hill, 44 Mass. App. Ct. 184, 192 & n. 8 (1998). “[A] civil action is wrongful if its initiator does not have probable cause to believe the suit will succeed, and is acting primarily for a purpose other than that of properly adjudicating his claims.” G.S. Enterprises, Inc. v. Falmouth Marine, Inc., 410 Mass. 262, 273 (1991). It appears that Mr. Monsarrat has dragged Mr. Newman into court, and badgered an untold number of others, to make a name for his “cyber investigation service.” This ulterior purpose, combined with the paucity of the complaint’s factual allegations and legal claims, strongly suggest that the action has been undertaken without good faith. These improprieties would support counterclaims of abuse of process, see generally Millennium Equity Holdings, LLC v. Mahlowitz, 456 Mass. 627, 636 (2010), and under Chapter 93A, see Northeast Data Sys., Inc. v. McDonnell Douglas Computer Sys. Co., 986 F.2d 607, 611 (1st Cir. 1993) (filing legal claim “which proves baseless” is an unfair trade practice if claim brought with “ulterior motive”); Nova Assignments, Inc. v. Kunian, 77 Mass. App. Ct. 34, 44 n. 7 (2010); Refuse & Envtl. Sys., Inc. v. Indus. Servs. of Am., Inc., 932 F.2d 37, 43 (1st Cir. 1991) (“bringing [a] lawsuit in spite of the evidence” can violate Chapte 93A). These improprieties would further support sanctions under M.G.L. c. 231, § 6F, see Fronk v. Fowler, 456 Mass. 317, 334 -35 (2010) (“Claims that are so unmoored from law or fact are the very definition of ‘frivolous’: ‘Lacking a legal basis or legal merit; not serious; not reasonably purposeful.'”) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary 739 (9th ed. 2009)), and under Mass. R. Civ. P. 11, see Van Christo Adver. v. M/A-COM/LCS, 426 Mass. 410, 416-17 (1998).

Believe it or not, those aren’t even all of the highlights of the letter. I imagine that this one could get interesting if Ishman and Monsarrat choose not to take Booth’s stern suggestion that they immediately dismiss the claims against Newman with prejudice.

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Comments on “Bogus Lawsuit Plus Threats To Those Who Write About It Leads To Epic Response”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: QUICK!!!!!!

Monsarrat needs to become a business partner with Amy’s Baking Company and then have them do some food fetish porn and then get them to exchange contact information with John Steele/Prenda. Then have “Allen Cooper” sign for a shitty pre-baked cookie that he had to wait a hour and half for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ain't a gonna folla ya down the "rabbit hole", Mike!

Is somebody forcing you to read this blog, Blue2? No? Then why are you here?

You don’t like it (you’ve told us many times) and you never have anything of value to say.

If you don’t want to “follow Mike down the rabbit hole” why are you following him at all? Is there some kind of weird-ass unrequited sexual attraction thing going on?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Earlier in 2013 he created a cyber-investigation service, which cracks the real identities of cyber bullies who post defamatory material online.

you left out the part where they are doing this to “promote” their new service to “uncover bullies” (a service that will almost certainly be expanded at some point to help “uncover copyright thieves”).

Apparently people are figuring that if Prenda has gotten away with what they have for so long, it’s time to try to cut themselves into the pie too.

Not a Doe but I play one on TV says:

Re: Re: Summation in 7 x 5-7-5

Ex-Turbine figurehead
Hires WAAmbulance chaser
To sue blog chatters

Blames fat, poor, alone
On allegations of perv
Just short of statute

Demands settlement
Annoints self process server
(Stalker more like it)

“Does” worried, with cause:
5 mill? for discussing case
Of screaming drunk girl?

Popehat brings counsel
Case demolished, point by point
Lawyer to lawyer

Somerville: small town
Gossip has gone national
Jonmon: new Prenda

Turns adage on head,
That no such thing as bad press
Streisand sings for him

Anonymous Coward says:

Following instructions

When asked by an officer to inform his guests that the party was ending, Monsarrat became ?argumentative? and refused to follow instructions, police said.

As an aside to the actual story, why should anyone be required to follow instructions to the effect of stopping a private party? Unless they’re being a nuisance, there’s no good reason why anyone should have to follow such instructions. Are we living in a dictatorship?

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Following instructions

Which would be quite normal and more legal in countries with saner drinking laws. But no, giving a gun to a four-year-old is laudable, but letting his 17-year-old big brother drink, OH NOES!!11! And as for letting their adult dad gamble…

You really need to make your minds up which century you’re in, and which religious denomination is driving your moral hangups. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Following instructions

Criminal law provides instructions for conduct that society has agreed upon and conferred law enforcement powers upon police to ensure are followed. Criminal law applies to private parties and on private property (if you disagree, try justifying murder because it occurs in those situations).

There were at least two criminal violations mentioned in the police report (marijuana, under-aged drinking).

Or were you asking why anyone should be required to follow the law?

If so, re-read first sentence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Following instructions

If there were criminal actions, the police can arrest those responsible. But I don’t think it’s lawful for the police to force you to tell people to leave. Forced speech is rarely legal. If the police needed the area vacated, they were perfectly capable of telling people themselves. But I’m not convinced that the police can even legally tell people who are NOT being arrested that they need to leave someone else’s home.

Dale says:

Re: Following instructions

You write: “why should anyone be required to follow instructions to the effect of stopping a private party?”

My memory is that the police had been called out by somebody because the party was becoming a nuisance. And in any case, there were plenty of people under the legal drinking age drinking there, so the police did have a right to stop it.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Let me get this straight.....

From his press release, Mr. Monsarrat claims:

Earlier in 2013 he created a cyber-investigation service, which cracks the real identities of cyber bullies who post defamatory material online. The release of names and identities is part of this new service, for one of Monsarrat’s client with an ongoing legal case against cyber bullies. His company is working in partnership with Defend My Name, perhaps the most technically advanced of the top anti-defamation services, and Ishman Law Firm, which has expertise in defending victims from cyber-attack.

OK, groovy. He’s got patented technology to identify anonymous posters online. And yet, in his actual Complaint it states:

Defendants John and Jane Does 1 through 100 are individuals whose true names and addresses of residence are currently unknown and unascertainable by Plaintiff, who have defamed Plaintiff through various false and defamatory Internet postings, and Plaintiff therefore sues said Defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiff intends to identify the Doe Defendants through means of discovery and will amend this lawsuit to identify the Doc Defendants by proper legal names upon obtaining such information.

He owns a cyber-investigation service. Wouldn’t he have already identified these Does? Is his means of discovery the same old ‘harvest IP addresses then subpoena ISPs for the actual name’ shuck and jive the copyright trolls have been trying? Or do you have to notify the court before using cyber-investigation kung fu?

Sam says:

Re: Let me get this straight.....

I wondered the same thing. It seems like he’s either doing a very poor or very accurate representation of his new investigation service.

You would think with how butt hurt he is about the whole thing, he would have the entirety of his new company working on the 100+ John Does.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let me get this straight.....

Agreed. What’s telling, though, is his tacit admission he can’t go the last mile toward positive identification without the court’s intercession. From one of his Settlement Demand Letters:

Your past and future posts on LiveJournal and other websites will be uncovered once discovery commences in this lawsuit. With your identity is revealed [sic], you will eventually be added to the case.

For good or ill, anonymity has ever been a valuable component of free expression; it is and should remain the toughest of veils to pierce.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Let me get this straight.....

His Patented Doe-Identifying Technology included reading their LiveJournals and other stuff for names and possible personal domains, then using whois info and voter registration records to find addresses for his non-legally binding letters. All done without the advice of his lawyer.

A month and a half ago he started visiting people’s homes to confirm the information for which he’d done a lot of stalking work. This Super High-Tech Confirmation process involved putting on a black trenchcoat to look cooler or something, visiting someone’s mother (hello, outdated whois info) and, more recently, ringing someone’s doorbell at midnight and then fleeing in a car with no headlights on.

He is a true Internet Superstar all right.

Jane Doe says:

Re: Let me get this straight.....

He’s sent dozens of letters to addresses, and has been showing up at people’s houses, including past midnight, to “verify addresses”. Also sending mail to people’s workplaces, and parents. Possibly phone calls as well, but no one’s sure on that one, but there have been some mighty suspicious calls.

vaguely involved says:

Re: Let me get this straight.....


If you go back to the initial thread (which posted in but so innocuously that I did not get contacted), you will see that Monsarrat frequently addressed the people he was speaking to by their first names, even when they were not otherwise identified as such on LJ.

Somerville is a small community – though there are 70k of us in this city, the city is 4 square miles total. I used to run into Monsarrat on the street frequently when he lived here.

Monsarrat identified them as John/Jane Does intentionally, in order to do a TA-DA! move, and reveal that he’d unmasked these online cyberbullies by listing them by username, then following it up with identities; names, address, and so on. He wasn’t actually doing anything to reveal their identities – he knows almost everyone who posted.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let me get this straight.....

IANAL, but I’m pretty sure the old “TA-DA!” ploy would be countered by the “I hereby sentence you to five years in Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison” maneuver. Of course, he could counter with the “But I’m crazier than a shithouse rat!” defense, to which the proper judicial response (if hazy memories of old Perry Mason TV shows serve me correctly) would be “We are not amused.”

theta1138 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Let me get this straight.....

Yeah, IANAL but on LJ the discussion has trended towards “How legal is this business in the first place anyway?” He could be violating P.I. licensing laws, he could be made an accessory to any action his clients take on his information depending on the state, he could blow any legitimate court proceedings for any number of reasons… it just seems ill-thought-out.

AnonymousLtd says:

If you want to dig even deeper into the dirt on this matter, understand this – a big part of why many of the lj “Does ” are scared is because they are professionals in the tech world and the Boston area who, if they are revealed and are required to go to trial, will likely turn out to have met him through a not-very-secret BDSM and polyamorous “underground ” comprised of hundreds of people in the area. A brief amount of investigation will show this to be the case.

AnonymousLtd says:

If you want to dig even deeper into the dirt on this matter, understand this – a big part of why many of the lj “Does ” are scared is because they are professionals in the tech world and the Boston area who, if they are revealed and are required to go to trial, will likely turn out to have met him through a not-very-secret BDSM and polyamorous “underground ” comprised of hundreds of people in the area. A brief amount of investigation will show this to be the case.

Jane Doe says:

Re: Re: Uh oh

He always goes on about how he “took a big hit” by “taking an early payout” and calls himself a “160 Million Dollar Entrepreneur” based on what it sold for years after her left.

He’s smart, there’s no denying that, but Turbine hasn’t had anything to do with him in a very long time.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Uh oh

If your friend is responsible for portal space just slap them for me, Thanks.

Programming for them shouldn’t be that hard, more than once the players have showed them where the code is broken and how to fix it.

I’d say more stuff, but then I’d be breaking walls between nyms and end up outing myself.

AnonymousLtd says:

the Rabbit Hole is Deeper than you Know

Many of the “Does” (I have no familiarity with the two named in the bogus “lawsuit”) are possibily nervous for more reasons than a fake lawsuit that will have them listed as “cyberbullies” on the web. Jon Monserrat’s alleged misdeeds at parties with alcohol and underage girls is only the tip of the iceberg. Many of the “Does” on the lj community are professionals in the Boston IT community and are also involved in a not-very-secret sexual “underground” in which these sorts of shenanigans take place all the time. Their social circle includes sci-fi fairs, polyamory clubs, BDSM “play parties”, Fetish Fleas, and more. This isn’t very hard to find out – a little investigation will uncover the information for you. Imagine how they are sweating at the prospect of having any of this uncovered. I can’t say if Jon Monserrat was involved – but I absolutely know for a fact some of the people calling him “creepy” are.

theta1138 (profile) says:

Re: the Rabbit Hole is Deeper than you Know

Actually, no. I’m not involved in that scene, but I have friends in it. I don’t make a habit of getting involved in the sexual lives of others, but to be frank I know most of the Does and there doesn’t seem to be much overlap.

The reality is that Jonmon is deliberately avoiding discussing that part of his personal life. I know this because I got into it with him on the original thread, and told him that I knew for a fact he’d been banned from several fetish events in the area, among other statements.

That statement is not challenged as “defamation”, in the lawsuit. In fact it’s not even mentioned. Every other statement I made in that comment, however, was.

Dale says:

Re: the Rabbit Hole is Deeper than you Know

You write “I can’t say if Jon Monserrat was involved”.

Rumor has it that JonMon is or at least was heavily involved in these activities as well. And it is said that he’s been kicked out of some of them for obnoxious behavior.

BTW, I like how you lump “sci-fi fairs” with various sexual proclivities!

Jessica Benjamin (profile) says:

I’ll be amazed if Monsarrat’s lawyer comes out of this unscathed. In my opinion, this appears to be the kind of action that gets one disbarred.

And as for Monsarrat showing up at people’s houses at night, apparently he’s unfamiliar with Massachusetts anti-stalking laws.

Regarding the sale of Monsarrat’s former company for 160 Million Dollars, I am still waiting to see this number confirmed by anyone besides Monsarrat himself.

Dale says:

There is an updated press release from JonMon (at which revises the press release referred to in this article:

“Second, due to a separate miscommunication, the press release stated that the new venture launched with partnerships. That was in error. The new venture does not launch with any partnerships.”

Ron Newman (user link) says:

A second lawyer responds to this lawsuit

Besides me, the other named defendant in this lawsuit is Deb Filcman, former editor of the weekly Somerville Journal. Her lawyer, Zachary C. Kleinsasser of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, has now sent his own letter demanding that Ishman drop the case against his client.

I’ve made a new LiveJournal post about Kleinsasser’s letter.

Ron Newman (user link) says:

It's over! Voluntarily dismissed with prejudice by the plaintiff!

I am pleased to report that Jonathan Monsarrat’s lawyer today filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal With Prejudice with regard to all named and ‘Doe’ defendants in this case. It is OVER. There was no settlement agreement; he simply gave up.

‘With Prejudice’ means that he can never file this lawsuit again, against any of us, for any statement made in any of the exhibits that were attached to the suit.

I’ve made an official announcement here: . In that post, I include links to a motion for dismissal and a supporting memorandum that my lawyer Dan Booth was ready to file next Monday, had the plaintiff not voluntarily dismissed the case today.

CharlesGrossman (profile) says:

Sympathy for the "Devil"?

I agree that this lawsuit seems pretty stupid. However, I have to empathize with Johnny Monsarrat. Most of us have youthful indiscretions we’d prefer not to air in public. Surely Johnny Monsarrat’s arrest and being accused of harassment fit this category. I hope he can find a different way to clear the air that’s better than ill-advised legal action.

Maria BP says:

Author of this article please contact us re:same attorney

We(myself and others) who are getting sued by the same attorney for posting true reviewes on his illegaly practicing client are now being sued in a bogus charges as described in your article. Please contact me and I will be happy to introduce you to the rest of us as we would like to put a stop for this none-sense.
Sincerely, Maria BP

Ron Newman (profile) says:

Re: Author of this article please contact us re:same attorney

Hi Maria,

I am not the author of this article, but I am one of the two named defendants in the (now thankfully dismissed) lawsuit that the article describes.

Could you please give a little more detail about your case, and especially how to contact you? By “same attorney”, do you mean Mark Ishman?

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