Pissed Consumer Slaps Back At Company That Filed A SLAPP Suit

from the good-for-them dept

Opinion Corporation runs the site PissedConsumer.com -- which, if you're not already familiar with it, does pretty much what you'd expect: allows angry consumers to call out companies that have done them wrong. One of those companies, apparently, is Nevada Corporate Headquarters which has some negative reviews on PissedConsumer. There appear to be similar negative reviews on other sites, including Ripoff Report and Scambook.

Last spring, Nevada Corporate Headquarters did the exact, wrong thing in response to the reviews on Ripoff Report: filed a lawsuit against the company. It lost. The court found, rightly, that Ripoff Report was protected by Section 230 of the CDA, and dismissed the initial lawsuit with prejudice. You would think that Nevada Corporate Headquarters and its lawyers might take the time to understand Section 230 and the nature of the internet. They, apparently, did not. Instead, a few months later, they filed a nearly identical lawsuit, in small claims court, against Opinion Corporation. Back in January, the court similarly dismissed that lawsuit, again pointing to Section 230 of the CDA which grants immunity to service providers from the content their users post. Opinion Corporation sought legal fees in response to this, but was denied, since legal fees are not recoverable in small claims court.

Now, in an interesting move, Opinion Corporation, represented by Marc Randazza, haves filed an anti-SLAPP lawsuit in a Nevada state court, under Nevada's Anti-SLAPP law, which does give attorney's fees to those who have been slapped down by bogus lawsuits trying to silence public discussion. It's an interesting legal move, as Opinion Corp. is basically arguing that since it was clearly SLAPP'd, even though via a small claims court, in can now file for attorneys' fees in state court under the state's anti-SLAPP law. The company argues, somewhat convincingly, that without this, Nevada Corporate Headquarters would be free to continue SLAPPing other sites in small claims court, knowing that there's no real downside to doing so. Furthermore, the fact that NVCHQ had already lost its case against Ripoff Report demonstrates that it clearly knew the SLAPP suit was nothing but a SLAPP in the first place, making the action even more egregious.
Defendant deliberately brought an action against Plaintiff it knew to be groundless and in violation of N.R.S. 41.660, as evidenced by the dismissal of its earlier identical action against Ripoff Report.

Even if the Defendant had not received virtually identical orders in the past, any reasonable party would know, or should have known, that Opinion Corp. was immune from liability.

The Defendant implicitly acknowledged that the claims were legally baseless by submitting an opposition to the motion that was devoid of even a singe citation to any authority.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2014 @ 4:23pm

    Libel

    I wonder: Do any remedies exist for targets of libel when the actual user who made the defamatory statement is unknown to the website operator and the latter refuses to remove the offending post?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2014 @ 5:03pm

      Re: Libel

      I thought libel and defamation were different some how.
      It is neither if it is true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Mar 2014 @ 5:19pm

      Re: Libel

      As long as the 'target' can prove their case in court, the judge can order the post(s) in question removed, with the threat of fines or other punishments should they refuse.

      So basically, if the 'target' does things how they're supposed to be done, then yeah, the law certainly provides a remedy for a situation like that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Section 230 sucks, 7 Feb 2015 @ 8:39pm

        Re: Re: Libel

        That is wrong. No court has the power to order libelous content off a site that is hosting third party content. Otherwise sites like ripoff report would lose much of the content they host.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2014 @ 8:32pm

      Re: Libel

      The court can order proved libel removed, and can also order disclosure of whatever user information exists, such as the posters IP address. Some formerly anonymous/pseudonymous people have been exposed this way, but in other cases the data was not retained by the site, or an IP trace dead-ended.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Section 230 Sucks (profile), 7 Feb 2015 @ 8:47pm

        Re: Re: Libel

        Sorry, courts do not have the power to remove third party content just because it's not true.

        With little more than a public wifi you can character assassinate anyone with little chance of getting caught if you write something that demonstrates who you are.

        Ripoff Report = license to kill (anyone's reputation).

        There are only two things required for any typical person's reputation from becoming destroyed. At least one person with computer access on the planet willing to do it, and their knowledge of Ripoff Report. That's it.....nothing else (sleep well tonight)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Eric, 29 Oct 2014 @ 9:33am

      Re: Libel

      Unfortunately no, there are no remedies that exist. I'm currently dealing with a situation where someone employed proxy servers and email spoofing services. Since we can't determine who the culprit is... we're screwed. The people who sling the mud, the websites, can just sit back and claim immunity from the CDA. Totally not the intent of the law and totally disgusting behavior. But there it is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike Jacobs, 29 Mar 2014 @ 11:19am

    Reviews

    Great find; I personally hate these fake review sites; don't blame them at all... most comments and reviews are fabricated or fake (depending on competition or someone with an axe to grind). Been using another site called casetree.com; they have done something different by providing reviews backed by lawsuits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike Jacobs, 29 Mar 2014 @ 11:34am

    Review

    There is another case I pulled up on www.casetree.com (Michael Eckerman vs. Opinion Corp ) in NV...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Paul Alan Levy (profile), 31 Mar 2014 @ 7:46am

    Remedy was posting is anonymous

    The plaintiff's remedy for allegedly false anonymous postings is to use discovery from the hosting company to obtain the poster's identity (proof of falsity is required in most jurisdictions that have addressed the issue (http://www.citizen.org/documents/Levy-Developments-in-Dendrite.pdf), then sue the poster for damages and (where permissible) an injunction compelling removal. The hosting service is immune from any litigation, including for an injunction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jerome Almon, 21 Jan 2015 @ 9:02am

    RipOffReport Can Be Easily Ended

    “It's people's fault that they LET this guy get away with this. Not only is he violating numerous consumer laws, he is violating numerous criminal laws. It is just that his opponents are DUMBER than he is. It is like John Gotti beating federal prosecutor after federal prosecutor and getting the moniker "Teflon Don"-well Rudy Giuliani put and end to that by being more RUTHLESS than Gotti. This guys are playing checkers when they need to swing a bat. https://twitter.com/KILLTHEROR

    WHY does the EU have laws against this specific act and the US does not? The people in the EU aren't as STUPID as the people in America.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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