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Jury awards $11.3M over defamatory Internet posts

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Jury awards $11.3M over defamatory Internet posts

Old 10-11-06, 12:58 PM
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Jury awards $11.3M over defamatory Internet posts

Wow, just think how much George Bush or Michael Moore could sue for?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...ion-case_x.htm

Jury awards $11.3M over defamatory Internet posts
A Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a "crook," a "con artist" and a "fraud."

Legal analysts say the Sept. 19 award by a jury in Broward County, Fla. first reported Friday by the Daily Business Review represents the largest such judgment over postings on an Internet blog or message board. Lyrissa Lidsky, a University of Florida law professor who specializes in free-speech issues, calls the award "astonishing."

Lidsky says the case could represent a coming trend in court fights over online messages because the woman who won the damage award, Sue Scheff of Weston, Fla., pursued the case even though she knew the defendant, Carey Bock of Mandeville, La., has no hope of paying such an award. Bock, who had to leave her home for several months because of Hurricane Katrina, couldn't afford an attorney and didn't show up for the trial.

"What's interesting about this case is that (Scheff) was so vested in being vindicated, she was willing to pay court costs," Lidsky says. "They knew before trial that the defendant couldn't pay, so what's the point in going to the jury?"

Scheff says she wanted to make a point to those who unfairly criticize others on the Internet. "I'm sure (Bock) doesn't have $1 million, let alone $11 million, but the message is strong and clear," Scheff says. "People are using the Internet to destroy people they don't like, and you can't do that."

The dispute between the two women arose after Bock asked Scheff for help in withdrawing Bock's twin sons from a boarding school in Costa Rica. Bock had disagreed with her ex-husband over how to deal with the boys' behavior problems. Against Bock's wishes, he had sent the boys to the boarding school.

Scheff, who operates a referral service called Parents Universal Resource Experts, says she referred Bock to a consultant who helped Bock retrieve her sons. Afterward, Bock became critical of Scheff and posted negative messages about her on the Internet site Fornits.com, where parents with children in boarding schools for troubled teens confer with one another.

In 2003, Scheff sued Bock for defamation. Bock hired a lawyer, but he left the case when she no longer could afford to pay him.

When Katrina hit in August 2005, Bock's house was flooded and she moved temporarily to Texas before returning to Louisiana last June. Court papers that Scheff and her attorney David H. Pollack mailed to Bock were returned to Pollack's office in Miami.

After Bock didn't offer a defense, a Broward Circuit Court judge found in favor of Scheff. A jury then heard Scheff's arguments about damages. Pollack did not seek a specific amount for the harm he says Scheff's business suffered.

"Even with no opposing counsel and no defendant there, $11 million is a huge amount," says Pollack, adding that Scheff is considering whether to try to collect any money from Bock. "The jury determined this was a significant enough issue. It's not just somebody's feelings are hurt; it's somebody's reputation is ruined."

Bock says that when she moved back to her repaired house over the summer, she knew the trial was approaching but did not know the date. She says she doesn't have the money to pay the judgment or hire a lawyer to appeal it. She adds that if the goal of Scheff's lawsuit was to stifle what Bock says online, it worked.

"I don't feel like I can express my opinions," Bock says. "Only one side of the story was told in court. Nobody heard my side."
By the way.. I love you all
Old 10-11-06, 01:01 PM
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http://wwf.fornits.com/

those are some awesome forums
Old 10-11-06, 01:02 PM
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I am a man and I am offended when people make jokes about my sexuality. You have all been warned.
Old 10-11-06, 01:08 PM
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Each member of that jury makes me sick.

Because they all rape poodles.
Old 10-11-06, 01:13 PM
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Well it's only a matter of time before DVDTalk gets shut down then lol.
Old 10-11-06, 01:21 PM
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This is exactly the kind of thread I would expect from that no-good goat-loving insane criminal General Zod.
Old 10-11-06, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandoman
This is exactly the kind of thread I would expect from that no-good goat-loving insane criminal General Zod.
I'm not insane! You'll be hearing from my layer, pal.
Old 10-11-06, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by General Zod
I'm not insane! You'll be hearing from my layer, pal.
Layer he said! What a tool!

By reading this post, you agree to waive all possible damages, financial or otherwise, that might be incurred.
Old 10-11-06, 01:26 PM
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Damn!
Old 10-11-06, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by General Zod
I'm not insane! You'll be hearing from my layer, pal.

Hey.. let's not get hasty.. Keep that layer to yourself.
Old 10-11-06, 01:28 PM
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...unless it's a layer cake. I like layer cake.
Old 10-11-06, 01:30 PM
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Oh man, I'm going to make some serious fucking bank from all those photoshops of me with Kobe that devilshalo loves to parade around here!
Old 10-11-06, 01:32 PM
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In related news, many DVD Talk posters will be getting e-mails from George Lucas' attorneys shortly.
Old 10-11-06, 01:44 PM
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Hey! I'm General Zod's wife..and I assure you I'm not a GOAT... so now, I guess you've um... heard from me!
Old 10-11-06, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Shannon Nutt
In related news, many DVD Talk posters will be getting e-mails from George Lucas' attorneys shortly.
Mr. Lucas resents the libelous implication that he is overly litigious. We'll see you in court.

-Legal Team of George Lucas
Old 10-11-06, 01:51 PM
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Bandoman's not a layer, but he plays one on TV.
Old 10-11-06, 01:51 PM
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This doesn't bode well for Bandoman V Groucho.
Old 10-11-06, 02:00 PM
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Holy crap, can you think of how much Daddy Cool or Shank Girl could make if they sued?
Old 10-11-06, 02:01 PM
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Perhaps we should set up a DVDTalk Court to avoid these sorts of issues.
Old 10-11-06, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by gimmepilotwings
Holy crap, can you think of how much Daddy Cool or Shank Girl could make if they sued?
I thought it was Skank Girl?

Or has she branched out now and is knifing people with a small, homemade blade?
Old 10-11-06, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
This doesn't bode well for Bandoman V Groucho.

My settlement demand just doubled. Now I want two six-packs of Bud Light.
Old 10-11-06, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Perhaps we should set up a DVDTalk Court to avoid these sorts of issues.
Can we have a cool theme song, ala The People's Court?
Old 10-11-06, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Vryce
Can we have a cool theme song, ala The People's Court?
I'm more concerned with who would be the Bailiff.
Old 10-11-06, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by lordwow
I'm more concerned with who would be the Bailiff.
kvrdave
Old 10-11-06, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by NORML54601
kvrdave
The police dogs' knees are a-shakin'.

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