Missouri Court To Chuck Johnson: WTF Are You Doing In A Missouri Court?!? Go Away

from the moed-down dept

Back in June, we had a post about an absolutely ridiculous lawsuit filed by noted internet news troll Chuck C. Johnson against Gawker, basically because they said some mean things about him, and mocked Johnson's own style of publishing bullshit articles that attempt to imply something awful about someone by asking a question about them. In this case, Gawker, mockingly seized upon some joking claims about Johnson supposedly shitting on the floor of a dormroom, which no one believed, but which Gawker used to mock Johnson. Johnson, for months and months and months, used to threaten libel lawsuits against basically anyone who mocked him, so it was interesting to see one actually get filed. But that was about the extent of the interest. Because the lawsuit was nuts. Almost nothing in it made even the slightest bit of sense, starting with filing in Missouri. Johnson lives and works in California. Gawker is based in NY. The stories about Johnson had nothing to do with Missouri. About the only thing in Missouri was... the one lawyer, John C. Burns, who was willing to represent Johnson (Burns had also helped Johnson in an earlier case involving Ferguson, Missouri). When questioned why it was filed in Missouri, Burns would only reply: "I will say this: I’m not an idiot."

Then, in October, Johnson and Burns filed a ridiculous laugh-out-loud legal collage of a brief in the case that certainly moved the "idiot" needle away from Burns' assertion and more strongly towards the alternative. As Adam Steinbaugh noted in his analysis at the Popehat link above, the brief (apart from seriously going beyond the court's fairly clear limits) made no sense. It was basically a conspiracy theory argument, complete with random clippings of things. The court had no time for it, and told Burns to file something that actually met the requirements of the court.

And, finally, a little over a week ago, the court again suggested that Burns' "I'm not an idiot" statement needs at least a bit more evidence as the case has been dismissed on the basis of "why the fuck did you guys file this in Missouri?" Okay, the actual legal reasons are a bit more involved, and a bit less profane, but it's still the same basic thing. It goes step by step through the silly arguments that Burns/Johnson made for why the case was legitimately filed in Missouri and says "LOL, no." The conclusion is pretty straightforward:
In this case, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, plaintiffs have failed to meet their “minimal” burden of proof to show that the balance of the relevant factors weighs in favor of the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendants in this forum. For the reasons discussed above, the Court concludes that defendants’ contacts with Missouri are insufficient to indicate they purposely availed themselves of the benefits and protections of the laws of Missouri
Get out of Missouri, folks.

Of course, this isn't necessarily over just yet. That's because last month, just as the statute of limitations was about to run out, Johnson, without a lawyer, basically filed a carbon copy lawsuit in California, just so he'd have other options. Of course, since it's a carbon copy of the Missouri lawsuit, the California lawsuit bizarrely spends many pages arguing why it's okay to sue Gawker... in Missouri. Yes, the following (and many, many, many more mentions of Missouri) are in the lawsuit:
Also, you see that footnote saying that it was last checked on June 17th? That's because June 18th is when it filed the Missouri lawsuit, but why bother updating anything six months later when you file in California.

There's also the following, in the second paragraph of the lawsuit, which is clearly untrue:
If you can't read that, it reads:
Plaintiff Charles C. Johnson has never before initiated a lawsuit for defamation.
Yeah, sure. You mean other than the other one you filed six months earlier using basically the identical text to this lawsuit, but just in a totally different state? Or does that not count?

Of course, without the aid of any "not an idiot" lawyer in California, Johnson apparently didn't spend much time researching the fact that California has a pretty strong anti-SLAPP law, which very likely means that not only will he also lose this case in California, but he's likely going to have to pay Gawker's lawyers for the privilege.


Filed Under: chuck johnson, defamation, john c. burns, jurisdiction, missouri, slapp suit
Companies: gawker


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2016 @ 3:33pm

    Arby's or dorm?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2016 @ 4:14pm

    Perhaps even after the statue of limitations runs out in California he can file it in another state just because the statue of limitations hasn't run out yet in that state. He can claim such to be the relevance of using said state.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jan 2016 @ 4:19pm

    Anyone ever think the secret goal here was to see how many different court houses he could drop this shit in?
    Makes you wonder...

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 26 Jan 2016 @ 4:34pm

    Wrong Approach.

    What an idiot, everyone knows that you need to build a heated ice rink that has elephants playing the saxophone in front of the courthouse in order to file a law suit in a different state. Or at least have a PO Box.

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 27 Jan 2016 @ 6:08am

    A Better Approach

    Next time, please try filing the case in every state, simultaneously.

    Be sure to swear that you are not currently involved in any other lawsuits, nor have ever filed a defamation suit previously.

    This time, write a "to whom it may concern" letter attesting to anyone interested, that you are not an idiot. Sign it and have the signature notarized. Then file that as exhibit A in evidence. That will greatly impress the court.

    Extra credit: sue the MO and CA courts that rule against you for facilitating and enabling defamation.

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

  • icon
    mattshow (profile), 27 Jan 2016 @ 12:10pm

    ...which very likely means that not only will he also lose this case in California, but he's likely going to have to pay Gawker's lawyers for the privilege.


    Of course, in Canada (and other jurisdictions) this is pretty much standard in every lawsuit. It really adds a new dimension to the risk-benefit analysis of filing a lawsuit.

    Of course, in Chuck's case, one doubts whether such an analysis ever took place.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 12:18pm

    "I'm not an idiot" said the idiot.

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

  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:44am

    KARMA

    Enjoy sending a check to Gawker AS WELL AS to California for filing a false statement.

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


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