If you own a website / blog that accepts comments, you can be sued, but if you know your rights, you can fight that lawsuit and prevail because you have immunity from liability under the CDA (Communications Decency Act).
A FANTASTIC example of why you’ll prevail can be found at RipoffReport’s webpage titled “Want to sue Ripoff Report?“. The owner of Ripoff Report explains why suing him would be nothing more than a waste of your time and money. EVERY website owner should read this page which explains why you (the owner) can not be held liable for comments made by others on your website and how lawyers have tried and repeatedly failed to do just that.
It also touches upon attorneys who might try to use trademark law to get you to remove content and how you can fight back and defend your rights.
Those that try to file a frivolous lawsuit face civil liability known as “Wrongful Use of Civil Proceedings” and it is defined by § 674 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts as follows:
(a) he acts without probable cause, and primarily for a purpose other than that of securing the proper adjudication of the claim in which the proceedings are based, and
(b) except when they are ex parte, the proceedings have terminated in favor of the person against whom they are brought.
If you’re a publisher, and don’t have the cash to hire a good attorney (and even if you do), you should check out this fantastic list of nonprofit legal assistance.
Abuse of the Legal System?
When I get time, I’m going to dig deep into these two cases…
1) The guy who sold a $40 printer and was sued for emotional distress because it wasn’t working and ended up with a judgement against him for $30,000; however, in an Indiana Court of Appeals under Facts and Procedural History, the court states:
As our Supreme Court has recognized, Zavodnik is a “prolific, abusive litigant.” Zavodnik v. Harper, 17 N.E.3d 259, 261 (Ind. 2012). He spends much of his life prosecuting lawsuits against individuals and businesses with whom he has entered into online transactions. See Zavodnik v. Richards, 984 N.E.2d 699, 701 n.2 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), aff’d on reh’g, 988 N.E.2d 806 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013). This is the second time this particular case has been before us. The first time, it had been dismissed, along with twenty-six other cases Zavodnik had filed, pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 41 (E), which provides for dismissal when a plaintiff fails to diligently prosecute the case or comply with court rules. Zavodnik v. Gehrt, No. 49A02–1105–CT–393, slip op. at 10-11 (Ind. Ct. App. Mar. 1, 2012) (memorandum decision). We affirmed the dismissal of most of the cases but reversed the dismissal of this case because there was no indication in the record that the trial court had held the formal hearing required by Rule 41(E). Id. at 21-22.
I’ll cover how you can defend yourself against someone suing you “Pro Se” (by themselves) as was done in the above case.
2) The couple who faced a million dollar lawsuit for leaving a bad review on Yelp. I’ll explain how you can leave an honest review and arm yourself against retaliation.
Whatever you do, you DO NOT have to cave in to legal threats! Take them seriously, but dig deep, find the true motive, and you’ll come out ahead! If you do nothing, then you are part of the problem!