The first of (2) frivolous complaints filed recently by Councilwoman Beth Mason against a prominent Hoboken blogger will go to trial at 1:00 PM tomorrow in Jersey City Municipal Court. Mason will be represented by her longtime personal attorney, Steve Kleinman.
Here is the actual complaint:
Mason alleges to be "victim" of an assault with a deadly envelope. The "victim" acknowledges the envelope contained "court documents."
This is true. The envelope contained a trial subpoena for Bajardi v Pincus. Sadly, both Masons lost their motion(s) to quash them and would have been forced to testify. Then, our September 22nd trial date was moved to January 26, 2015...
But I digress!
Will NJ courts protect victims of SLAPP suits and frivolous complaints from the predatory out-of-town law firms and/or vindictive politicians who file them?
A step in the right direction, today the NJ Supreme Court announced:
Yep, today the NJ Supreme Court put a stop to the practice of piling on 'actual' damage claims with 'presumed' damages to equal a huge sum ($2,000,000 for example). Such enormous in terrorem claims are often used by predatory lawyers for leverage in settlement talks with SLAPP victims. Simply put, the predators' 'settlement' offer is to pay a huge sum (to the SLAPPers) to end the litigation or else face unsustainable, ruinous costs of a protracted legal battle.
That is the essence of a SLAPP. Intimidation to stop free speech combined with economic extortion: pay us to exit stage left. A predatory lawyer might even threaten endless appeals then advise you it is 'cheaper' to pony up a pile of dough now.
And so, GA is heartened to see that courts are limiting the 'leverage' to extort SLAPP victims by limiting defamation damages.
GA wonders how today's ruling impacts "intentional infliction of emotional distress" claims.
For example, say a guy files a SLAPP suit, and claims to be hounded by diarrhea and debilitated by dread.
Does the 'limits on defamation' ruling limit the diarrhea claim? Are there exceptions like proving the diarrhea wasn't caused by a bad taco? Does he shit in a bucket and bring it to court? What if the SLAPP-guy has Montezuma's Revenge? Shouldn't he sue Montezuma? And the dread... couldn't it be a manifestation of psychosis or an untreated personality disorder? Perhaps the diarrhea is causing the dread. Or the dread is causing the diarrhea. I get debilitated thinking about it. Maybe that's why Mr. SLAPP might claim "nausea." Thinking about his gastrointestinal distress makes me nauseous. But really, what kind of a lunatic would actually submit such idiotic claims to a NJ court?