Court Dismisses Prenda's Ridiculous Defamation Lawsuit Against Internet Critics & Guy Whose Signature It Forged
from the took-'em-long-enough dept
Remember Alan Cooper? This was the housekeeper for some cabins owned by John Steele, one of the lawyers behind Prenda Law, who suddenly found his name and (falsified) signature on a number of documents related to Prenda Law’s copyright trolling shakedowns. Unhappy with this situation, Cooper sued John Steele and Prenda Law. In response, Prenda Law, Paul Duffy and John Steele all sued back… for defamation. Specifically, they filed three separate lawsuits, all against Alan Cooper, his lawyer Paul Godfread and a bunch of anonymous internet commenters. John Steele quickly dropped his lawsuit (apparently there were some serious procedural problems with it in Florida), but Duffy kept both his personal lawsuit and Prenda’s lawsuit going — despite the fact that the lawsuits were clearly crazy.
There was some back and forth as Duffy tried (and failed) to keep the lawsuits in state court (where crazy lawsuits tend to have a better chance), and last year the lawsuit that was technically filed by “Prenda” resulted in sanctions against Duffy. The lawsuit filed by Duffy himself, facing the same judge (John Darrah) has now been tossed out as well, siding with Cooper/Godfread over their claims that the lawsuit violated Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP law. Darrah points out, in his analysis that Duffy appears to have just given up on the case, ignoring multiple requests by the court to present his arguments:
Plaintiffs have been given several chances at producing evidence to show that Godfread and Cooper?s statements are not entitled to immunity. The renewed motion to dismiss pursuant to the anti-SLAPP act was filed on October 30, 2014. Plaintiffs were given until December 1, 2014, to respond but did not do so. The ruling date was scheduled for February 17, 2015. On February 12, 2015, Plaintiffs were given until February 19, 2015 to respond but, again, did not do so. Throughout this case and the companion case, 14-cv-4391, Prenda and Duffy have ignored clear court orders and failed to fully brief motions. Plaintiffs have not produced clear and convincing evidence that Godfread and Cooper?s statements are not entitled to immunity. Therefore, Godfread and Cooper?s statements in the Minnesota lawsuit must be found to be immune from suit.
That was concerning the statements in Cooper’s original lawsuit. How about the online commenters? Duffy doesn’t fare well here either. As everyone pointed out at the time the lawsuit was filed, the comments of various anonymous online commenters were clearly statements of opinion, and thus not defamatory:
The Internet statements cited in Plaintiffs? Complaint are opinions that do not contain an objectively verifiable assertion. Therefore, the statements are not libel per se but nonactionable opinions. Defendants? Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, III, and IV is granted without prejudice as to Defendants John Does 1-10.
Judge Darrah also rejects the claims of “false light” pointing out that such a claim requires “actual malice” and Duffy didn’t even bother to show how any statements involved actual malice. Darrah also rejects the claims of “civil conspiracy” and “tortious interference” noting that Duffy made “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” In other words: just because you say it, it doesn’t make it so, Duffy.
Consider Duffy’s weak attempt into intimidation through defamation lawsuits a failed endeavor.