La Russa & The AP Claims Twitter Settled Lawsuit... Twitter Sets The Record Straight

from the that's-not-quite-right dept

Last week, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter over a fake account made in his name. La Russa had no case. Multiple lawyers chimed in, and I've yet to hear from any who thought he had even a remote chance to win this case. However, the AP reported that Twitter settled, deleted the account and agreed to donate an undisclosed sum to a La Russa-backed charity. This seemed like a really bad idea, because it would just encourage others who had fake accounts opened up to sue. Hell, if someone were really sneaky, they could get a friend to open up a fake account, and then go and sue Twitter to get some settlement money. Giving in to bullies with no legal basis can come back to haunt you.

But... Twitter is claiming the story is not true. It does say that it deleted the account, but that's because of the terms of service violation -- not because of any settlement. Instead:
Reports this week that Twitter has settled a law suit and officially agreed to pay legal fees for an impersonation complaint that was taken care of by our support staff in accordance with our Terms are erroneous. Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay.

With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa's lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous. Twitter's Terms of Service are fair and we believe will be upheld in a court that will ultimately dismiss Mr. La Russa's lawsuit.
Now that is a lot more like it. In the meantime, it's worth noting that La Russa still doesn't seem to recognize the case still has no chance:
"There is a law against improperly using a person's name without authorization and it wasn't authorized."
I'm curious (a) which law he's talking about specifically and (b) how this was "improper use." The account was clearly a parody (and said so in the bio). There was no implied endorsement of anything or other misuse of La Russa's name. And, even if La Russa's statement was true, the liability would certainly be on whoever created the account -- not Twitter. While the details of what actually happened still aren't clear... I'm guessing that after Twitter deleted the account, La Russa simply assumed they "settled." Most likely, his lawyers will drop the lawsuit, but it would be interesting to see if Twitter pushes to keep the lawsuit in place in order to try to get a favorable ruling and use it to prevent other, similar, frivolous lawsuits.

Oh, and in the meantime, isn't the Associated Press supposed to fact check things like "Tony La Russa and Twitter have reached a settlement in his lawsuit against the social networking site" and "Twitter has agreed to pay legal fees and make a donation to his Animal Rescue Foundation" both of which appear not to be true? The AP keeps telling us that only its "professional" journalists get things right -- whereas those "amateur" bloggers out there screw up the news all the time. Or did the AP figure that it could get away with not fact checking, since it could just threaten to sue any blogger who quoted its erroneous report?

Filed Under: cybersquatting, lawsuits, misappropriation, tony la russa, trademark
Companies: associated press, twitter


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  1. icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 8 Jun 2009 @ 10:16am

    Re: I believe everything Twitter says but...

    The person who setup the account was acting like the coach (talking about plays and how well he thought he did), not just some guy with the same name. This suggested (I'm not going to say proved since it still could have been him) that the person who setup the account wasn't who he claimed to be. Thus the violation of the terms of service.

    Prepare for a hacking charge next.

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