The Case for Anti-SLAPP Legislation

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SLAPPFreedom of speech reigns in the United States. Unless you are criticizing a person or company with the funds to sue you into infinity. Then you could find yourself on the receiving end of an expensive lawsuit that has no aim other than to shut you up. (Case study: Medifast Inc.’s $270 million lawsuit against me and others; I have won and Medifast is now trying to get out of paying the $300k+ of legal fees they are required to pay.)

Attorney Eric Turkewitz writes about his experience with SLAPP suits in New York. (SLAPP = Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Although the law protects people who write truthful things and/or state their opinions, the legal process of getting a case dismissed is onerous without anti-SLAPP laws. (Even with anti-SLAPP laws, it can still be expensive. Medifast sued in California, where there is good anti-SLAPP legislation, but it still took over $300k in attorneys fees — not counting the hundreds of thousands of dollars the other defendants spent on their attorneys — and over four years of litigation to get the suit against me dismissed.) Continue reading

Medifast Victory For Tracy Coenen

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medifastAnother victory for Tracy Coenen in the malicious lawsuit filed more than 4 years ago by Medifast (NYSE: MED) related to their Take Shape for Life business unit. In 2011, I was dismissed from the lawsuit following my successful filing and argument of an anti-SLAPP motion. Medifast immediately appealed that decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Today, my dismissal from the Medifast lawsuit was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, which said:

5. Finally, we affirm the district court’s order granting of Coenen’s anti-SLAPP motion. Coenen’s statements were either not libelous per se or were republications for which she should be afforded immunity under the CDA.
6. Appellee Coenen shall recover her costs on appeal. All the other parties shall bear their own costs on appeal.

Medifast can suck it.

Right to Free Speech Wins Again

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Popehat points us to a nice victory by SOCNET in a lawsuit filed by John Giduck, the man who claims he was defamed when a SOCNET user stated that he was fraudulently posing as a Special Forces veteran.

The court granted SOCNET’s motion to dismiss (even with no anti-SLAPP statute in Colorado), saying:

It is this tension that has generated numerous cases addressing the first element of a defamation action, i.e. is the statement defamatory. Not every untrue, uncomplimentary or offensive statement concerning an individual is defamatory. Continue reading

Medifast Lawyers Lie to the Court (Again)

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In the never-ending saga of Medifast Inc’s $270 million lawsuit against me for defamation related to their Take Shape for Life division (TSFL), the company and its lawyers have repeatedly lied to the court about what I have said, written, and done. Apparently, this is the only way they think they might win their case. Thankfully, the judge saw through their lies and dismissed me from the case under California’s anti-SLAPP legislation.

That hasn’t stopped Medifast from continuing the lies, however. And the company appears to be upset over my writings about the lawsuit. Management and the attorneys have falsely stated that I am writing about this case to get publicity for myself. The truth is that I write about this case to expose the lies and shady litigation procedure employed by the company.

I do not believe a company like Medifast should be allowed to commit these acts in the dark of night. I want to expose management and the attorneys for the liars that they are, so the whole world can see it. Continue reading

Defamation and Statements of Opinion

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A couple of months ago, a ruling on an anti-SLAPP motion in a defamation case against Gawker Media (owner of website Gizmodo) got my attention. Scott Redmond, with his service called Peep Telephony (or Peep Wireless), was upset because Gizmodo posted a negative review of the service. More specifically, Gizmodo called the service a scam, saying that it offers “free” cellular service for phone calls, texts, and data access. A look at Peep’s website produced this criticism:

To be frank, this all sounds like bullshit. In fact, the combination of everything described was so strange, it almost made the company seem like a larger-than-life prank on the tech world. The closest thing to a technical explanation for Peep is this: Continue reading

TSA Agent Thedala McGee Rapes Passenger, Then Demands Money

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As the United States goes back to normal, following our remembrance of September 11, 2001, one of the most offensive bits of “normal” continues at airports. We, the citizens of the United States, allow the Transportation Security Administration to shame, humiliate, and violate us every single day. (See a photo of the kind of thing I’m talking about here.)

Today I focus on one Thedala Magee, a TSA employee who violated Amy Alkon in an airport. What Thedala Magee did, as described by Alkon, is nothing short of sexual assault. But it was sanctioned and allowed by our government in the name of “safety” at airports.

You may have already heard the story about Thedala Magee’s lawyer, Vicki Roberts, sending a threatening letter to Amy Alkon, demanding $500,000 for publicly saying that Magee raped her. Continue reading

A Victory For Free Speech in California: Will I Get My Victory?

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

A Swedish film maker, WG Film, won a victory for free speech in California. The documentary film producer made a movie about Dole Food, called “Bananas!”, detailing how the company was using pesticides and how it was treating its Nicaraguan workers. The film wasn’t flattering and, naturally, Dole sued the company for defamation.

The producers filed an anti-SLAPP motion in California, saying that the the movie was protected as free speech. Dole then dismissed the lawsuit, but did so without prejudice, which left an open threat that the lawsuit could be refiled at any time. Continue reading

Another Reason Why More Anti-SLAPP Legislation Is Needed

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Michael Tanczyn of Medifast

Medifast General Counsel Michael Tanczyn, Esq. at the deposition of Sam Antar. (click to enlarge)

UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

I am currently on the receiving end of a SLAPP suit, thanks to my good friends at Medifast (NYSE:MED) and their scam-like pyramid-like multi-level marketing division Take Shape For Life (TSFL).

SLAPP = Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation

It goes like this… Someone criticizes your company. You get mad. You decide to use your millions or billions of dollars to shut them up. But more importantly, it shuts up anyone else who would dare to criticize you or your company, lest they should also be on the receiving end of a lawsuit they can’t afford to fight. Continue reading

Medifast Lawsuit: Anti-SLAPP Motions Filed

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

Anti-SLAPP motions have been filed in the Medifast lawsuit by me and by my co-defendant, Robert FitzPatrick. My motion can be read in its entirety here, and Fitzpatrick’s can be read here.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.  It’s basically when a big company tries to shut up a little guy with expensive litigation. In my opinion, Medifast sued me and others in an attempt to get us to stop publicly analyzing or criticizing the company and it’s multi-level marketing business model. Continue reading

Medifast Lawyers Continue to Lie to the Court

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

The Medifast (NYSE:MED) lawsuit against Barry Minkow, Fraud Discovery Institute, me, Robert FitzPatrick, William Lobdell, and others marches on. Yesterday, the Medifast lawyers filed an amended complaint in the case. The passage of time has not made Medifast or its lawyers more honest, however, as the amended complaint repeats factual inaccuracies (those are called lies in my world) and even expands on them.

Grab a cup of coffee and kick up your feet while you read the amended complaint. The document now alleges a civil conspiracy related to Medifast’s Take Shape for Life (TSFL) division, and repeatedly refers to the defendants as co-conspirators. I can’t speak for the other defendants, but I certainly know that I conspired with no one. I simply performed services for a paying client, and I wrote about Medifast on this blog in a continuing effort to advance the discussion of the pitfalls of multi-level marketing. Continue reading