from the I've-been-besmirched,-exclaimed-the-besmircher dept
This kind of hubris can only be explained by massive self-delusion. It’s not pretty but at least the denouement is wholly justified.
Last January, Kashmir Hill published an investigation that uncovered the source of serial, widespread online defamation. The perpetrator was Toronto resident Nadire Atas, who engaged in a one-woman war against everyone she felt had ever slighted her.
The inflection point appeared to be the firing of Atas from a realty agency owned by UK resident Guy Babcock’s family. She had been fired in 1993. This was followed by a wave of online defamation and harassment that targeted multiple members of Babcock’s immediate and extended family, accusing them of pedophilia, child molestation, fraud, and theft.
Atas had also waged on online smear campaign against a Canadian lawyer who worked for a bank that had foreclosed on two properties owned by Atas. For whatever reason, Atas also targeted a Nova Scotia historian, branding him as a pedophile and “pervert freak,” making it difficult for him to obtain a research position.
Atas also allegedly harassed Toronto residents who had the misfortune of sharing a building with her. This included a reported assault as well as reports of extremely erratic behavior. The New York Times investigation culminated in Atas’s arrest on charges of harassment, defamatory libel, and spreading false information with the intent to alarm. Most of the charges were ultimately dropped but Atas was ordered to cease her online harassment of her many victims.
Atas responded as only someone who has decided the internet is an instrument for (extremely misguided) retribution can: she sued the New York Times over both articles, focusing on the one that reported her arrest.
That lawsuit has been dismissed, as the Volokh Conspiracy reports. Unsurprisingly, the shotgun litigation (there are 72 other defendants beyond the New York Times) has been found meritless. And, as the opinion shows, Atas did very little to help her case survive both its jurisdictional challenges (her being Canadian and the entities she sued being from all over the world) and her own litigation history. A footnote appended to the third page of the opinion [PDF] shows how Atas’ Canadian litigation history works against her pretty much anywhere else she files a lawsuit.
Plaintiff attaches to the complaint a January 3, 2018, order issued by Justice David L. Corbett of the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice. The order declares that Plaintiff is a “vexatious litigant,” who has “persistently and without reasonable grounds instituted vexatious proceedings and conducted proceedings in a vexatious manner in the Courts of Ontario,” and prohibits Plaintiff from instituting or continuing any action or proceeding in Ontario without first obtaining leave. The order also directs Plaintiff to provide a copy of the order to any court, regulatory body, or tribunal where she seeks to commence any type of action or proceeding.
Definitely not helpful, especially when suing over the contents of a well-researched investigation and factual reporting about your arrest.
This also isn’t helpful.
She seeks to hold 73 named defendants and several Jane and John Does liable for the alleged defamation, including (1) the Times and entities and individuals associated with the Times − such as The Daily and its host; the Times’s executive and business editors; and [Kashmir] Hill and her husband; (2) the alleged victims mentioned in the two articles; (3) individuals, entities, lawyers, and law firms who were involved in the defamation cases and other litigation in the Canadian courts to which Plaintiff was a party; (4) the relatives, colleagues, employers, and other entities associated with those whom Plaintiff perceives as enemies.
The court says that, first of all, it does not have jurisdiction. Atas is Canadian. The 73 defendants hail from the US, UK, and Canada. Most importantly, there are no US plaintiffs, which makes it all but impossible for the court to consider the case.
That being said, the court says there’s no case to be considered. What’s alleged here is nowhere near actionable under US law.
Even if Plaintiff is able to establish that the Court has diversity jurisdiction to consider this action, however, her factual allegations do not suggest that she would have viable claims against any defendant named in the amended complaint.
That refers to the Times articles, which are factual and offer factual basis for allegations made in them. The second article, in particular, covers nothing but the indisputable facts surrounding Atas’s arrest.
The rest of the defendants, however, are shielded from this lawsuit because the court has difficulty believing they ever defamed Atas, especially some of those on the outer reaches of the exceedingly long list of alleged defamers.
Plaintiff seeks to bring libel claims against a large number of individuals, lawyers, law firms, and other entities that have no apparent connection to the Times’ articles from which her claims stemmed. She names these defendants and asserts where they are domiciled, but fails to allege any facts against them, much less sufficient facts, as required by Rule 8, to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each defendant is liable to her for libel. For example, she names as defendants the Myers-Briggs Company, which she describes as “the world’s largest business psychology providers” based in California, and IBM, which she identifies as a “multinational technology corporation” headquartered in New York. Plaintiff provides no facts in the complaint that would show how these two defendants − or most of the other defendants − are liable for the alleged libel stemming from the publication of the two articles by the Times.
Yikes. Well, the court has far more patience than anyone should have for someone who is attempting to play the victim after victimizing others for years. Atas has a chance to amend the lawsuit. Given what’s seen here, any amendment is likely to increase the number of baseless claims and completely unrelated defendants, rather than bring Atas any closer to the vindication she somehow believes she deserves.