Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When you sue someone for $900,000 in a public court, you can't expect to keep it a secret

S.C. v. TheDirty
Citizen Media Law Project

On April 14, 2011, plaintiff "S.C." sued TheDirty, a gossip web site that advertises itself as the "first ever reality blogger," and Nik Richie, owner of the web site, for posting allegedly defamatory comments submitted by a third party. According to the complaint, the comments accused the plaintiff, who works at a church, of having an illicit relationship with the poster's boyfriend, and requests $900,000 in damages for defamation, public disclosure of private facts, false light invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.The plaintiff claims she has suffered reputational harm in her community and her job as a result of the posting. The plaintiff also filed a motion to seal the case, but the motion was denied.

The defendants answered the complaint on May 17, 2011.

On May 20, 2011, the plaintiff's attorney sent an e-mail to the defendants' attorney stating an intent to add him as a defendant after the defendants' attorney apparently posted the plaintiff's original demand letter online with attachments, thus, in the words of plaintiff's counsel, "perpetuating this defamation." The e-mail also indicated a belief that the defense attorney had become a witness with a conflict of interest in representing TheDirty and Nik Richie.

On July 8, 2011, the plaintiff filed a motion to amend her complaint to include additional counts of intentional infliction of emotional distress and public disclosure of private facts after defendant Nik Richie posted a copy of the court's order denying the plaintiff's motion to seal on his website. The post included a comment, "now it's game on," and gave readers an opportunity to comment on the matter.

The proposed amended complaint does not include a claim against the defendants' attorney. The defendants have not yet responded to the motion to amend and no ruling on the motion has been issued.

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