Florida Court Realizes Its Mistake, Reverses Order For Ripoff Report To Take Down Content

from the good-to-see dept

At the beginning of January, we wrote about a troubling court ruling in Florida, where a judge ordered XCentric, the operators of Ripoff Report, to remove some content from their website, despite the company's policy against such removals and the clear and well-established safe harbors for Ripoff Report from Section 230. There were some serious problems with this ruling beyond just the Section 230 questions, including the prior restraint issue, whereby content was ordered taken offline despite the lack of a full evidentiary hearing on the merits.

Thankfully, the judge who made this clearly incorrect ruling was not re-elected, and the case was handed off to another judge who quickly righted the wrong, noting that Ripoff Report was clearly protected by Section 230 of the CDA. Perhaps even more interesting is that Paul Alan Levy, who was preparing an amicus brief for the appeal, was able to get his hands on the original transcripts of the hearing and highlights just how troubling the initial ruling was on a prior restraint basis, in that the order was not based on any findings of the likelihood of success of the original defamation claims:
The transcript of the hearing at which the original TRO against the author was adopted is particularly revealing.   The order was not based on any findings of likelihood of success that the author would be found liable on the defamation claims; everybody understood that the only objective was to facilitate an order against XCentric.  The author never conceded that she was even negligent in making her statement that Giordano was a convicted felon, not to speak of acting with actual malice as would be required for a judgment of defamation assuming that Giordano is a public figure.  Indeed, there was some suggestion that Giordano had told the author that he had previously been in trouble with the law.  So, perhaps he was a felon, just not a convicted felon?  The author apparently stood by everything else she had said about Giordano; yet the judge ordered XCentric to take the entire statement down because, the judge said, he didn't want to be involved in editing the statement. 
And this is exactly part of the problem. The judge was in such a rush to shut down the content, no effort was made to determine if there was a true legal basis for removing the content.

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  1. identicon
    GodCzALL, 5 Mar 2012 @ 5:13pm

    Re: R.I.P. Dear Brother

    im so sorry for your loss .. I just recently joined this site.. I could never post about a person.. I did post about a company who tried to pull a fast one on me I just wanted people to beaware of their scam .. for other people to post things about the next person is truly wrong. its like when my neighbors moved in next door lots of people told me different stories about them some people said he was great some people told me other. I never listened to the he say she said until I received a letter telling me he was a convinced rapist ... there after I still didn't pass judgment just kept a even more closer eye on my children. I never just tell people "oh he's a rapist " because I don't know the whole story .. it could have been a girl he was having relations with that lied about her age and when the guardian found out they pressed charges .. so you do have a good point people should not post things about other people unless they know the WHOLE TRUTH and NOT just one side of a story .. I wish you and your family well and pray you find closure on this issue ...

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