Topic: Legal

Legal side of Reputation Management

ALERT! Richard Andrew Gorman, aka Rich Gorman 0

On behalf of a client, attorney Daniel R. Warner sued Richard Gorman, Brand.com, Inc., and other affiliated companies for defamation in United District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, case number 2:14-CV-05980-GAM (the “Lawsuit”). While Dan Warner was actively prosecuting the Lawsuit, Rich Gorman made it clear that he would seek revenge against the firm.

True to his word, it appears that Richard Gorman, the co-founder of Brand.com, Inc., has spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort hatching and executing an elaborate plan for the purpose of destroying Kelly / Warner’s reputation.  Mr. Gorman recently emailed Mr. Warner and Mr. Kelly stating that we was going to publish an article about the allegations that have recently appeared on various websites.

Rich Gorman’s company, Brand.com, Inc., seems to have has an interesting history with Joseph Chinnock, who has been a focal point of many articles.  Mr. Chinnock and Brand.com, Inc. were sued in Florida where it was alleged that “Brand.comn knew or should have known at the time it hired Chinnock to work on Kogan’s Wikipedia page that he had a history of defrauding customers and attempting to extort money from them by threatening to harm their reputations if they did not pay him to assist them in improving their online reputations.” Prior to filing for bankruptcy (liquidation) in April of 2015, Brand.com, Inc. offered brand management and reputation management services. “In 2013, Brand.com stated further that they would enact a De-Indexing Action Plan to permanently erase false or libelous information from major search engines as opposed to attempting to move the negative information further down in search results.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand.com (last visited 4/24/17). Mr. Gorman and Brand.com ran a high volume de-indexing service, caused countless webpages to be de-indexed, and are very familiar with how de-indexing works – or more importantly doesn’t work.

Given Richard Andrew Gorman’s knowledge of de-indexing, his affiliation with Mr. Chinnock, along with Mr. Gorman’s “checkered past” (simply Google search “offender Richard Gorman”), many questions have been raised. For now, the firm is unable to release additional information but will likely do so in the near future.

Ironically, Charles Rodrick and Richard Gorman have now teamed up to defame and harass Mr. Warner and Mr. Kelly. What is happening now (posts being made for the purpose of damaging the firm’s reputation), is the same thing that Mr. Rodrick did before. And much like before, attorney Daniel R. Warner and attorney Aaron M. Kelly are grateful to work with the State Bar of Arizona to ensure that the good guys will win again.

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Source: Kelly Warner Law

You Can’t Be Fired For a Facebook Post Calling Your Boss a “LOSER”–NLRB v. Pier Sixty 0

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 8.43.39 AMThis is a Facebook firing case. The employee worked at Pier Sixty, which operated a catering company in New York. In early 2011, its employees became involved in a union organizing campaign, ultimately voting to unionize. Hernan Perez worked as a server. Prior to the election, his supervisor apparently barked orders at Perez and two others: “Turn your head that way and stop chitchatting” . . “spread out, move, move.” During a break from work, Perez posted to Facebook [capitalization and punctuation in the original, obviously]:

Bob [the supervisor] is such a NASTY MOTHER FUCKER don’t know how to talk to people!!!! Fuck his mother and his entire fucking family!!!! What a LOSER!!!! Vote YES for the UNION!!!!

The post was publicly accessible, though Perez thought that only his Facebook friends, including some co-workers, could see the post. He took down the post a few days later. In the interim, the post came to management’s attention, and they terminated him.

The NLRB alleged that Perez’s termination was unlawful. An ALJ agreed, finding that Perez had been terminated for protected activity. A divided three member panel affirmed. The parties both appealed to the Second Circuit.

Perez’s post is presumably protected activity, but the employer can nevertheless terminate him if it was “overly abusive.” Courts have employed several tests to determine whether obscenities in the workplace qualifies as overly abusive. One test considers: (1) the place of the discussion; (2) the subject matter; (3) the nature of the outburst; and (4) whether the outburst was provoked by the employer’s unfair labor practice. The Second Circuit criticized that test as giving insufficient weight to the employer’s interest in preventing outbursts “in the presence of customers.”

Separately, the General Counsel’s Office developed guidance for evaluating when employers’ efforts to curtail employee social media use violated the Act. This guidance is described as “more employee-friendly.” In light of this guidance, the Board uses a nine-factor totality-of-circumstances test. The ALJ used that test in the Perez case. The employer did not contend the ALJ used the wrong test. Instead, it appeared to challenge the factual conclusions of the ALJ and the panel.

The appeals court concludes that Perez’s firing was improper:

First, although Perez used vulgar attacks and referenced the supervisor’s family, the subject matter of the message included workplace concerns. The post protests mistreatment by management and urges a yes vote on unionization.

Second, the employer previously tolerated profanity among workers. Apparently, a chef and the supervisor here, regularly cursed at employees, including screaming phrases such as “what the fuck are you doing,” “mutherfucker,” and “are you guys fucking stupid”.

Third, the court says:

the “location” of Perez’s comments was an online forum that is a key medium of communication among coworkers and a tool for organization in the modern era. While a Facebook post may be visible to the whole world, including actual and potential customers, as Pier Sixty argues, Perez’s outburst was not in the immediate presence of customers nor did it disrupt the catering event. Furthermore, Perez asserts that he mistakenly thought that his Facebook page was private and took the post down three days later, upon learning that it was publicly accessible. We thus conclude . . . that the Board did not err in ruling that Perez’s Facebook post, although vulgar and inappropriate, was not so egregious as to exceed the NLRA’s protection. Nor was his Facebook post equivalent to a “public outburst” in the presence of customers and thus can reasonably be distinguished from other cases of “opprobrious conduct.”

The result is similar to another Second Circuit case where the court also found that employee speech constituted protected activity. There, the court went so far as to invalidate the employer’s blogging policy: “Anti-Employer Chatter On Facebook Protected By NLRA–Triple Play v. NLRB”. In blogging that case, I made the following observation:

the ruling also takes an employer-unfavorable approach to evaluating who the audience was to employee speech. This is the opposite of the approach in typical employee discharge cases where the employee’s arguments that a post was only viewable by his or her friends usually gets no traction whatsoever. The court flips that argument here and says that, even if customers viewed the speech, the employer can’t invoke brand harm as a basis for termination if the customers were not the primary audience.

That sounds like a similar approach to the one the court took here. The employee got the benefit of the doubt regarding the possible audience. This is unique in Facebook firing cases, where the “I didn’t know what my privacy settings were” argument usually gets little or no traction. (See the numerous cases linked below.)

Eric’s Comments:

* Unless they practice employment law, most lawyers don’t think much about the NLRB. However, the NLRB’s policies about employees’ use of social media are counterintuitive, and they cast a long shadow on employer activities. As painful as it will be, we have to keep tabs on the NLRB’s positions on social media law.

* Perez’s post explicitly referenced the unionization effort, which dramatically increased the odds that the NLRA applied. However, the NLRA can apply even when unionization is not on the horizon. So it’s possible the NLRB would have reached the same result even without Perez’s last sentence. Still, Venkat and I have reported on so many cases where employees have lost their jobs for intemperate remarks on Facebook. An employee-favorable ruling in this circumstance doesn’t change the overall perspective that online bitching about your job and your boss remains a high-risk strategy.

* The appellate court opinion spends extra time grokking the implications of saying “Fuck his mother.” Apparently the judges were more bothered by an F-bomb directed at mom than at other offensive aspects of Perez’s post.

* As we all know, our President routinely calls just about everyone else a “LOSER”even his own 4 year old son. It’s become one of the many not-so-funny peculiarities of our president. In light of that, of course Perez should have unfettered discretion to call his boss, or just about anyone else, a “LOSER.” He’s just following the role modeling by our country’s leader.

Case citation: NLRB v. Pier Sixty, LLC, 2017 WL 1445028 (2d Cir. Apr. 21, 2017). The NLRB case page.

Related Posts:

Anti-Employer Chatter On Facebook Protected By NLRA–Triple Play v. NLRB

Can Your Employer Fire You For Posting Vacation Photos to Facebook?–Jones v. Accentia

Texas Court of Appeals Rejects Privacy Claims Based on Facebook Firing – Roberts v. Craftily

Teacher’s Semi-Racy Facebook Photo Doesn’t Justify Firing – In re Laraine Cook

Do Employers Really Tread a Minefield When Firing Employees for Facebook Gaffes?

Employee’s Discrimination Claim Can’t be Salvaged by Coworker’s Allegedly Inappropriate Facebook Post — Brown v Tyson Foods

More Proof That Facebook Isn’t The Right Place To Bitch About Your Job–Talbot v. Desert View

Facebook Post Isn’t Good Reason To Remove Attorney From Probate Court Case Assignment List

Demoting Police Officer for Posting Confederate Flag to Facebook Isn’t First Amendment Violation

Nurse Properly Fired and Denied Unemployment Due to Facebook Rant

Employee’s Twitter Rant Means He Doesn’t Get Unemployment Benefits–Burns v. UCBR

Police Officer’s Facebook Post Criticizing Her Boss Isn’t Protected Speech–Graziosi v. Greenville

Facebook Complaints About Boss’s Creepy Hands Can’t Salvage Retaliation/Harassment Claims

Facebook Rant Against ‘Arial’ Font Helps Reverse Sex Offender Determination

Employee Termination Based on Mistaken Belief of Facebook Post Authorship Upheld — Smizer v. Community Mennonite Early Learning Ctr.

Social Worker’s Facebook Rant Justified Termination — Shepherd v. McGee

Police Officers Lean on School to Fire Social Worker for Facebook Post–and May Have Violated First Amendment

Police Officer’s Facebook Venting Isn’t Protected By The First Amendment–Gresham v. Atlanta

Court Upholds Doocing For Snarky Facebook Post — Rodriquez v. Wal-Mart

Employee’s Privacy Claim Based on Allegedly Improper Access to Facebook Post Fails — Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hosp.

University May Be Liable for Improper Access to Student’s Facebook Photos – Rodriguez v. Widener Univ.

Facebook Entry and Blog Post May Support Retaliation Claim – Stewart v. CUS Nashville

Employee Terminated for Facebook Message Fails to State Public Policy Claim — Barnett v. Aultman


Source: Eric Goldman Legal

Marc Randazza’s most recent CNN column analyzes U.C. Berkley’s decision to silence Ann Coulter 0

See Dear Berekely: Even Ann Coulter deserves free speech

There has been a wave of violent outbursts against conservative speakers during the 2016 election season, including violent protestors at Berkeley driving Milo Yiannopolous off campus a few months ago.

Berekley’s reaction?  When the Berkeley College Republicans invited Coulter to speak, Berkeley canceled it, citing the recent violent outbursts as the reason. Marc Randazza explains that Ann Coulter suggested disciplining the students that engaged in violence, but Berkeley decided instead to reschedule the speech on a day when no students were on campus.

This is censorship.

Marc Randazza says that some people on the left feel, “emboldened by a view that ‘we’ are right and the Right (is) wrong,” and goes on to scold the left: “Shame on the Left for tacitly condoning this culture of violent suppression of views it disagrees with.”

Marc Randazza reminds us that we don’t need a First Amendment for speech that neither challenges, nor offends, because sometimes that very challenging and offensive speech fosters growth.

Marc Randazza points out that the left used to be beacons for free speech, and credits a few well known liberals for defending Coulter’s right to speak in the column:

“Are we living in an alternate reality, one in which Bill Maher and Bernie Sanders are sticking up for Ann Coulter?

What could have caused this rip in the space-time continuum?

The so-called birthplace of the free speech movement, the University of California at Berkeley, has once again engaged in liberal censorship, this time of Ann Coulter, using the fear of violence as cover to suppress a voice it did not like.”

Read the rest here.

The post Marc Randazza’s most recent CNN column analyzes U.C. Berkley’s decision to silence Ann Coulter appeared first on Randazza Legal Group.


Source: Marc Randazza

Defamation of Character – What is Online Defamation? 0

You sleep in one morning and wake up to find 30 messages on your phone. Rubbing the sleep from your eyes, you grope for an explanation. It is not your birthday, and there are no reports of terror attacks on your newsfeed. When you open the first message, though, you discover that it is your reputation that’s attacked: “Did you see the awful things they are saying about you on the internet?” friends and family members write. 

What has happened to you is that you have become a victim of online defamation of character.

The legal term for getting one’s reputation dragged through the mud is “defamation of character.” Verbal defamation is known as slander. When defamation comes in written form, it is known as libel. In the era of the Internet, it is scarily simple for someone you do or don’t know to go online and cause lasting harm to your reputation. I have ample experience in online defamation cases. Below, I will tackle two big issues: What is online defamation of character and what can you do about it?

For a statement to qualify as online defamation, it must first of all be false. The truth is an absolute defense against online defamation. A factual statement is protected by law no matter how unflattering it may be or how much grief may cause you. If you are unable to find employment or to sell your business because someone online called you an ax murderer, there’s nothing you can do about it if you actually split someone’s head with an ax.

Resemblance To Real Persons

A defamatory statement must also clearly identify you as the target. It is to avoid defamation suits that film credits include the usual disclaimer: 

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.” 

The defamatory statement also has to be “published”—that is seen or heard by at least one other person beside you and the author. Finally, and most significantly, the statement has to have caused you real harm, either in your business or personal life. Proving harm can be the biggest hurdle in online defamation cases.

The framers of the constitution made it hard to pursue defamation cases. The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law, “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Courts have also put up barriers to defamation of character suits, especially for public figures—say politicians or celebrities. Well-known people not only have to prove that a statement was false and harmful, but they must also show the person made the statement with “reckless disregard for the truth” or “actual malice.”

Regulations governing the Internet add another layer of difficulty for online defamation suits. With the emergence of the web in the 1990s, regulators had to make a momentous decision about how much legal liability search engines, websites, message boards and blog hosting services had for the content they carried. If the law treated these Internet service providers like traditional publishers, say newspapers or magazines, they could face legal liability for defamatory statements appearing online.

If on the other hand, if the law treated Internet sites more like distributors, comparable to newsstands or bookstores, then they could not be sued. The politicians opted for openness, and as a consequence Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (the “CDA’) treats Internet platforms more like distributors.  The CDA has kept the Internet wide open for the exchange of information and opinion. However, that openness has come at the cost of hurting tens of thousands of people, ranging from businesses damaged by unjust product reviews to average Joes and Josephines who have been flamed by a blogger with a grudge.

The “Skank Blogger “

If you want to understand some of the difficult judgment calls that go into a defamation case, consider one of the most famous internet defamation battles, Cohen v. Google. The saga started in 2008 when Liskula Cohen, a successful New York City model, found herself the object of vicious attacks by an anonymous blogger. The posts featured photos of Cohen along with captions describing her as “skank,” “skanky,” “ho,” not to mention, a “psychotic, lying, whoring . . . . skank.” Cohen went to court to out the anonymous attacker, who posted on Blogger.com, which is owned by Google.

The blogger petitioned the court to preserve her anonymity, arguing that the words “skank” and “ho” were used in a “loose hyperbolic” manner. Those insults have become “a popular form of ‘trash talk’ ubiquitous across the Internet as well as network television and should be treated no differently than ‘jerk’ or any other form of loose and vague insults that the Constitution protects,” the blogger maintained. Blogs “have evolved as the modern day soapbox for one’s personal opinions,” the blogger argued. The insults about Cohen were obviously not intended as objective statements of fact, the blogger said, and a savvy online audience would clearly not view them as such.

The Supreme Court disagreed with the blogger, however. Consulting the American Heritage Dictionary, the court found “skank” defined as  “one who is disgustingly foul or filthy and often considered sexually promiscuous.” The court similarly looked at the definition of ”ho,” which is slang for a “prostitute.”

The court ruled that the defamatory intent of those words was underscored by the context in which they appeared in the blog, set alongside sexually provocative photos of Cohen. In such a setting, calling Cohen a “skank” or “ho” wasn’t analogous to calling her a jerk, the court decided  It was far worse and clearly defamatory. So the court order Google to give Cohen the name of the so-called “Skank Blogger.” It turned out the blogger was a casual acquaintance of Cohen’s. Cohen decided in the end against suing her harasser, but the blogger then turned around threatened to sue Google for $15 million for outing her. Nothing ever came of that, however.

Cohen’s case reveals an important lesson about what legal tactics work when fighting defamation. Often, an online defamation victim’s best recourse is suing to obtain the identities of anonymous perpetrators by subpoenaing ISPs.

The Law And Its Limits

Trying to use the police and criminal law to fight defamation is fraught with problems, according to a paper by the Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy. “When victims contact local law enforcement for help, it seems that they are rarely taken seriously,” the Fordham paper said. “Many law enforcement personnel face limited resources and lack technical expertise. Issues with state jurisdiction also make successful prosecution difficult, as victim and perpetrator are often in different states, if not different countries. While there are state laws for harassment and defamation, few cases have resulted in successful prosecution.”

However, when you retain legal counsel, many times you can find out valuable information about the identity of the individual who may be doing the online defamation of character campaign against you.  That information you may use to remove the information from Google, take to law enforcement and pursue a lawsuit against the individual.

If you want to fight online defamation, time is of the essence.  Many states have statutes of limitations which limit the window of opportunity for a lawsuit. The first date of publication of the allegedly defamatory material is typically when the clock starts ticking on the deadline to file a lawsuit. That is why it is crucial to look for qualified assistance as soon as possible.

One vital, but often overlooked step, is preserving evidence, in case the author moves quickly to remove or conceal the defamatory post. It is best to maintain the evidence in electronic form, with a screenshot, PDF printout, or a screen video.

Consequences Of Internet Defamation: The $11.3 Million Verdict

In some cases, internet defamation has resulted in significant jury verdicts. In 2006, Sue Scheff, a Florida woman who runs a service offering information and resources to parents of young people with behavioral problems, won an $11.3 million award from a Florida jury in an online defamation suit.

The conflict started when Scheff began getting attacked on an internet site dealing with services troubled teens. She was called a “crook,” a “con artist” and a “fraud.” Scheff went to court against her antagonist, a woman named Carey Bock. Brock was unhappy after seeking and Scheff’s assistance, which led her to post the allegations. A jury set the amount of the large award and Scheff went on to write a book about the case.

Defamation Of Character On Facebook

In a more recent case, a man was awarded $25,000 in damages by a Wisconsin Circuit Court after being attacked on Facebook by someone he’d never even metJohn Beckett created a bogus Facebook account using the name and photo of his victim, Stephen Laughland. Beckett then filled the page with scathing comments about Laughland that were falsely attributed to Laughland himself, Wisconsin courts found. “It is nice being a loser and taking advantage of banks and credit card companies,” one of the entries on the false page said. “I am not sure why more people have not caught onto the fact that I am a low life manipulative person.”

The Court found that Beckett defamed Laughland in an attempt to win favor with Laughland’s ex-girlfriend because of an ongoing child custody battle between the two. Laughland sued Beckett. Beckett presented multiple arguments in his defense, saying the statements were substantially true and also fell within the bounds of opinion protected by the First Amendment.  

Wisconsin courts saw it differently and ruled against Beckett. An appellate court noted that calling Laughland a “low life loser” might have qualified as opinion, but that Beckett crossed a line by making specific false statements that Laughland had defrauded banks, manipulated banks and credit card companies and engaged in “underhanded” business practices. The Milwaukee County Circuit Judge assessed $15,000 of general damages and another $10,000 of punitive damages.  “There was one and only one motivation for this,” the circuit judge wrote, noting Beckett’s effort to woo Laughland’s ex-girlfriend. That was “an attempt to impress her and an attempt to run down in her eyes Mr. Laughland. You put all of that together and you’ve got the ill will, you’ve got the malice, you’ve got the defamatory statements, et cetera.”

Cyberbullying And Doxing

Besides online defamation, there are other forms of abuse on the Internet that you may need legal help coping. “Cyberbullying” is a growing problem for young people who endure electronic harassment in a connected age. A study suggested that there are links between cyberbullying and depression and poor academic performance. Another form of internet abuse is “doxing,” revealing private records about someone online. Doxing is a tactic that can be used to extort or simply embarrass a target and often leads to court battles

If you think you might have suffered online defamation or another form of abuse on the internet, don’t hesitate to call the Internet attorneys at the law firm of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA to discuss your matter further. The firm has vast experience in cases of online defamation and will talk to you about your situation with empathy. Fill out this form, or contact Attorney Aaron Minc at (216) 831-0042.

The post Defamation of Character – What is Online Defamation? appeared first on Defamation Removal Law.


Source: Aaron Minc

Esports Venues Are Spreading Like Clones Across U.S. 0

esports venues
Esports Venues Are Opening Across The Country

Competitive gaming — a.k.a., esports — is exploding. According to Newzoo, an esports marketing research firm, in 2016, approximately 256 million viewers settled in for at least one live-streaming esports event.

And where there are masses, there is money to be made. From the players to the sponsors, all the way up to the venue owners, professional gaming pioneers — if things trend as projected — will soon be reaping huge rewards.

But as crowds continue to grow, promoters and sponsors are having a hard time finding stadiums large enough to handle the audiences. So, to remedy the situation, investors are developing esports venues in several major cities.

Esports Viewership By the Numbers

At the most recent IEM World Championship in Katowice, Poland, more than 173,000 passed through the turnstiles over two days, representing an increase of 53% over last year’s World Championship. There was also a record 46 million online viewers, breaking the 2016 League of Legends World Championship of 43 million.

Esports Venues Are Popping Up Everywhere

As mentioned, esports viewership demands have motivated real estate moguls to redesign existing sites and build new ones — specifically for video game tournaments.

Hollywood

The owners of TCL Chinese Theater, led by CEO Robert K. Laity, announced plans for a new CinemaCon esports venue adjacent to the company’s Chinese 6 Theater complex in the heart of Hollywood. It’s slated to open in the summer of 2017.

According to Laity, the new venue is just the beginning. In a recent interview, he explained, “What we are launching is just the tip of the iceberg. We see cinema operators working together as a global network of immersive MX4D esports theaters and becoming part of the fabric of competitive gaming. We are in discussions with sponsors, esports organizations and other cinema operators to join forces with the TCL Chinese Theatre as we bring this exciting capability to the world of online and live tournament play.”

Las Vegas

What better spot for an esports complex than America’s over-21 playground, Las Vegas!? Millennial Esports is opening a 15,000 square foot new venue in the heart of downtown. There’s seating for 800 fans and participants, with 250 stadium-style seats in the main arena. And in true Vegas fashion, it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. has long-served as the nation’s capital, and now the mid-Atlantic enclave wants to become an esports hub, too. With much fanfare, the city announced its official sponsorship of NRG Esports, the nation’s top esports team.

As the first city sponsorship of its kind, NRG’s founders and investors also include Sacramento Kings’ owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov. Celebrity athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, Jimmy Rollins, and Alex Rodriguez are also involved. The group will be providing team logos, a fan website, and a boot camp practice venue for players and prospects.

Moreover, the city of D.C. plans to build an esports stadium. Doing double duty as both a gaming arena and Washington Mystics stadium, the facility will seat 4,200 people and cost $65 million.

According to Events D.C. Chairman Max Brown, “[It will] come online in late-2018, early-2019. Fully tailored and wired for esports.”

The Future of Esports

When asked about the rise of esports, Trent Miller got right to the point: “I’ll only say that more people tune in to watch the League of Legends Grand Finals than the NBA Finals or the World Series. Whether or not esports will overtake football remains to be seen. But as far as esports overtaking most physical sports, it already seems like it’s happening.”
Kelly / Warner works with esports athletes, gaming personalities, and teams. To learn more about how we can help people in the professional gaming world with everything from contract negotiations to conflict representation, check out the esports law section.

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Source: Kelly Warner Law