SLAPP suits on 'Zimmer-Bloggers'?

It's been a rough week for the online combatants on The Dark Side.

Vastly outnumbered and unable to censor the shocking discovery that on July 22, 2009 Lane Bajardi passionately defended Peter Cammarano's right to control zoning appointments only 6 DAYS AFTER Cammy sold 2 variances at the Malibu, the Dark Side has launched a new offensive: 'Zimmer-bloggers' are MEAN.  VICIOUS.  


They're MEAN!

GA would respond that mean-spirited governing- like trying to kill our hospital sale or costing taxpayers $4.5 million for voting down a cost-free garage bond refinance- or having subordinates bash  public schools 24/7 is MEAN.

So really, GA is more concerned with our CITY and all of YOU than the feelings of the MEANIES.

That said, this new strategy of calling Zimmer-allies 'mean' was rolled out and today a stalwart cyber-thorn in the Old Guard's bottom was threatened with a law suit.

That's right.  The meanie hurt my feelings, so I'm gonna sue.

The intent is to send a chill through ALL your Zimmer-lovin' spines and shut your Zimmer-luvin' mouths. (It's bogus and not-actionable, by the way.)

But here it was, from a first-time poster.
just since we are talking about the usual old guard new person stuff i have to add this here too, so as i (and i hear the media is on this story too) understand it apparently one person here has stepped far over the line. it is not a crime to post mean spirited and obnoxious things and definitely not to post criticism. However, (your name here) apparently went to far a few weeks ago with a posting referring to someone as a drunk, just because that someone dares to sue the mayor. You can criticize all you want but spreading an actual lie or trying to maliciously defame someone is breaking the law.

a slander suit is being filed this week and this one person is going to be the defendant. since (your name here) has posted on several sites, those sites will have to cough up info about were she logged in.

i have been told patch and will have the info next week. let this be a lesson, you can criticize all you want but you CANNOT break the law just because you know or like the mayor,
OK, so here's what GA gleaned from this- the commenter is talking about Billy Campbell,  Hoboken's former PIO, who is suing the City of Hoboken for wrongful termination.  The blogger- irrelevant.  Put your name in there. 

The point is, the Dark side bloggers trying intimidation to shut us up while they tar Zimmer as having 'meanie' supporters. 

I'll wait until you stop laughing to continue.  Done yet?  Jeez, it's like I'm tickling you with a feather...

So, I did shoot the post over to GA's $850/hour legal department, Not-Stempler, to ask him his thoughts on the merits of suing a moniker on a message board for a perceived slur from a political adversary. He was too busy to  write something but here are notes from our chat.

First of all, he called this a SLAPP suit.
A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff's goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.
So here's what Not-Stempler said:
It's interesting they've threatened a SLAPP suit.

In many cases the person who files the SLAPP suit comes to regret it because if they lose have to pay damages and legal fees for the defendant and expose themselves to counter suit.  The person who sues opens up all avenues of push-back.  For example, medical records and proof of propensity toward the behavior that is the basis of the complaint.  In this case, drinking.  

Further, the plaintiff has to show proof of damages caused by the basis for complaint. In this case as the direct result of this specific blog comment.

Did the person ask for the offending post to be taken down?  What is the evidence or record of the Plaintiff's objection to the post?  Can the Plaintiff disprove the commenter's claims of libaciousness?  Did any others comment on this libaciousness or only the Defendant?  Were other offending posts asked to be removed? 

This person is anonymous.   The only way to get her/his IP is by subpoena. A corporation like AOL will not give this up easily or readily. Most media outlets won't go near naming registrants because threats to their business and traffic. may (or may not) provide an email, and if so, the registrant's ISP will likely resist a subpoena. 

Finally, but most notably the court will issue a motion to dismiss because the individual claiming libel is a former public official, Hoboken's former Public Information Officer, and as such is not protected under the First Amendment to public opinion and public commentary.

After the summary judgment dismissal the Plaintiff, as I said, has opened himself to damages and counter-suit. 
OK, I hope I got that to Not-Stempler's satisfaction.  If not, I'll hear from him later. 

Got that people? Now you're on alert to their latest schtick: calling you "mean" and threatening to sue.

WAAAAA... they're being mean!  Call Bruce Gates!