Roca Labs Sues Blogger; Faces Legal Challenges In NY & Florida
from the slow-down-guys dept
Keeping up with the ongoing Roca Labs saga appears to require full-time effort, as there are a bunch of updates. First up, though, is that Roca Labs has decided to sue blogger Tracy Coenen for the articles she published about Roca Labs. Earlier this month, we wrote about Roca Labs’ threats against Tracy Coenen, a fraud investigator, who wrote about Roca Labs on her Fraud Files blog. As in the past, it appears that Roca Labs believes statements that are clearly opinions or hyperbole are somehow defamatory if they reflect negatively on Roca Labs. Before filing the lawsuit, Roca sent a second threat letter with a very brief deadline, complaining that she “publicly mocked” them. Coenen’s response was to publish a new blog post explaining why she believes “Roca Labs Must Be Mocked.”
In the actual lawsuit, Roca also claims that because Coenen sent us Roca’s threat letter and we published it, that she was using Roca’s letter to “harass and mock” the company. Who knew that merely publishing the threat Roca Labs sent is harassment of Roca Labs? And, of course, mocking Roca Labs is not against the law, no matter how much the company might wish it were so.
In the meantime, it appears that Coenen actually did — at least temporarily — give in to Roca’s demands and removed the blog post in question — but Roca Labs claimed it was not enough because she “did not retract [her] Defamatory Statements or otherwise comment publically [sic] concerning the defamatory Statements’ lack of fact and merit.” Further, the lawsuit accuses her of trying to “conceal the truth and cover-up [her] bad acts.”
So, to keep this straight: Roca Labs sent her threat letters claiming what she wrote was defamatory, and after she removed the post (temporarily), the company is using that as evidence that she’s trying to conceal the truth? Really? Good luck with that one. Oh, and also, it appears that Roca’s attorney in this case, John DeGirolamo, is still somewhat confused about what defamation per se means. Hopefully, the court will sort it out for him.
In the meantime, some other things have been happening in various other Roca Labs court proceedings. Up in New York, where PissedConsumer (Consumer Opinion Corp.) had originally sued Roca Labs for declaratory judgment of non-infringement, Roca Labs had been trying to get out of the case arguing that the jurisdiction is improper. But, as you may recall, Roca also recently sent a questionable DMCA takedown letter to Google, claiming that content on PissedConsumer was infringing (something we find unlikely to be true… but…). However, as PissedConsumers’ lawyers in New York note, in filing that takedown, Roca Labs has effectively made itself subject to PissedConsumer’s local court’s jurisdiction. This is based on a ruling in another nutty case we covered for a while, the effort by Gina Crosley-Corcoran to use the DMCA to silence a critic. In that case, the court noted that, in serving a DMCA takedown notice, the sender “purposefully and voluntarily directed [its] activities toward the forum so that [it] should have expected, by virtue of the benefit [it] received, to be subject to [this] court’s jurisdiction based on these contacts.”
When PissedConsumer’s lawyers notified Roca Labs’ lawyers of this, Roca Labs stood by its argument that the court has no jurisdiction, but Roca Labs’ lawyers didn’t seem to understand the significance of this. In response, PissedConsumer is now seeking to go after Roca Labs for DMCA 512(f) penalties, for misrepresentations in filing a DMCA takedown.
And, finally, just to complete this trio of stories, we’ll also note that, down in the Florida case, PissedConsumer has filed a humdinger of a motion for summary judgment, laying out why Roca Labs has no chance in its case, and why the case should be put to rest quickly. Given everything else going on, we won’t go into a more detailed analysis of that motion, other than to suggest you read it, and note that, as we predicted, it relies heavily on Section 230. It’s written by Marc Randazza, so it’s got that readable style he’s become known for.