Roca Labs Sues Witness Who Came Forward In Its Lawsuit Against PissedConsumer
from the scorched-earth-strategy dept
Roca Labs just keeps going and going. If you don’t recall, the company sued PissedConsumer (a part of Consumer Opinion Corp.), claiming that the site had engaged in “tortious interference” with Roca’s business by encouraging people to complain about a Roca Labs product (a kind of goop that it claims will fill your stomach making you less hungry). In its response to Roca’s lawsuit, PissedConsumer also supplied declarations from a former Roca customers who were unhappy with their experience, complained about it, and got threatened with lawsuits in response from Roca Labs. Soon after, Roca Labs threatened three of those individuals with defamation lawsuits, even though it had been years since the company had communicated with two of the three.
It appears that Roca Labs finally made good on that threat and recently filed a lawsuit against all three individuals in Florida State Court. The lawsuit (pdf), which includes a demand for a temporary injunction, seems destined for federal court rather than state court since none of the defendants are in Florida. Either way, the lawsuit accuses all three of “breaching” the contract by daring to complain to the Better Business Bureau, tortious interference for alerting others to the fact that they didn’t like Roca Labs’ product and “defamation per se” based on Roca’s rather interesting interpretation of defamation law. As we’ve noted in the past, the gag order in Roca Labs’ terms of service does say that if you complain about its product, it will automatically be considered defamation per se, but that’s not how “defamation per se” works.
Roca Labs is seeking declaratory relief and a temporary injunction. Once again, the request for the temporary injunction is an interesting legal argument, seeing as the company is asking the court to prevent speech from the three individuals — and it’s generally considered improper to issue a temporary injunction for speech (the whole First Amendment/prior restraint thing becomes an issue).
Frankly, this looks like a fairly standard SLAPP suit — a lawsuit designed to shut someone up. Unfortunately, Florida only has a ridiculously narrow anti-SLAPP law, meaning that it won’t be effective for the three women in question.
On a separate note, in my last post on Roca Labs, I mentioned that the company appeared to have incorrectly told the court in Florida that its case against PissedConsumer there was unrelated to any other case, when that clearly was not the case, given the lawsuit in NY that PissedConsumer had filed against Roca Labs even earlier, seeking declaratory relief. Apparently, Roca Labs recognized its mistake the very next day after I wrote about it, and filed an amended filing, noting the case in NY. I’m sure it’s a coincidence.
Updated:: I’ve updated this post slightly, after discovering that not all three of the new defendants were involved in the PissedConsumer case — just one was, but all three had complained to the Better Business Bureau.