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[freehaven-dev] (FWD) [Freenet-chat] (Fwd) [ISN] Libel Found on Internet Message Board Postings
----- Forwarded message from Erik Moeller <email@example.com> -----
From: "Erik Moeller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2000 18:00:58 +0200
Subject: [Freenet-chat] (Fwd) [ISN] Libel Found on Internet Message Board Postings
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Date sent: Tue, 8 Aug 2000 13:36:50 -0400
Send reply to: Marjorie Simmons <lawyer@USIT.NET>
From: Marjorie Simmons <lawyer@USIT.NET>
Subject: [ISN] Libel Found on Internet Message Board Postings
This case has some interesting implications for site
cracks and defacings . . .
Libel Found on Internet Message Board Postings
American Lawyer Media
Bio-medical firm Biomatrix won a ruling from a New Jersey superior
court that found three people published libelous statements against
Biomatrix on two Web sites. The ruling is believed to be one of the
first judgments nationwide against those who defame others online. The
two sites were a Yahoo message board and the message board of Genzyme
Corporation, which plans to merge with Biomatrix this year.
An attorney with Boston-based Bingham Dana led a legal team in what
is believed to be one of the first judgments nationwide against those
who defame others online.
Attorney Charles L. Solomont, representing the bio-medical firm
Biomatrix Inc. in New Jersey, won a ruling from the Bergen County
Superior Court in New Jersey that found three individuals published
libelous statements against Biomatrix on two Web sites.
The two sites were a Yahoo message board and the message board of
Genzyme Corporation in Cambridge, Mass., which plans to merge with
Biomatrix by the end of this year.
Defendants Richard and Raymond Costanzo of North Carolina and Ephraim
Morris of Arizona will go to trial now to determine damages in the
defamation suit. Raymond Costanzo and Morris are former employees of
Biomatrix. No court date has been set.
According to the court decision written by Superior Court Judge Peter
F. Boggia, the three made anonymous claims online that officers of
Biomatrix were "Nazi doctors" and that a major product of the firm,
Synvisc, had killed several people. They claimed, in court papers,
that [the plaintiffs] "cannot prove damages and no one would take the
But the court's decision relied largely on a New Jersey Supreme Court
ruling -- Nappe v. Anschelewitz, Barr, Ansell & Bonello, 97 N.J. 37,
47 (1984) -- that held "the courts have not adhered to the common-law
distinction and have sustained actions in the absence of proof of
compensatory damage. These include libel, slander per se, nuisance
and malicious prosecution."
Solomont said the original lawsuit was filed against "John Does,"
because the identities of the perpetrators were not known. With help
from Yahoo, he said, "We determined who they were around the time the
companies announced the merger. Their statements could potentially
have some serious ramifications for the companies, and an impact on
shareholders reading them."
He said the decision has far-ranging implications for other cases now
pending nationwide, in which anonymous, defaming claims are made
against individuals and other entities.
"People post these messages using aliases and believe it protects
them from liability for their actions. But this case shows the
perpetrators of [such] online claims can be prosecuted."
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Scientific Reviewer, Freelancer, Humanist -- Berlin/Germany
Phone: +49-30-45491008 - Web: <http://www.humanist.de/erik>
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