Getbig Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness Forums
September 17, 2014, 08:52:04 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 
   Home   Help Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Jury fines Internet users $13.8 million - for being mean  (Read 452 times)
24KT
Getbig V
*****
Gender: Female
Posts: 24448


Gold Savings Account Rep +1 (310) 409-2244


WWW
« on: May 30, 2013, 10:56:19 PM »

Jury fines Internet users $13.8 million - for being mean
Published time: April 24, 2012 21:35
Edited time: April 25, 2012 01:35


AFP Photo / Mark Ralston)
Tags:  Crime, Internet, Law, Sex, USA


Freedom of speech might be allowed on the Internet, but name calling? Not so much. A jury in Texas has awarded $13.8 million to a couple that filed a defamation lawsuit after being offended on the Internet.

Three years after they filed a complaint against then-unknown users of an online forum, Mark and Rhonda Lesher of Clarksville, Texas are expected to see their bank account balance increase by almost $14 million. That’s close to the judgment agreed on by a jury that oversaw a case in the 348th District Court in Fort Worth, TX. It’s there that the couple claimed that meanies on the Topix.com message boards had antagonized them to the point that they were driven to take legal action. Now some formerly-anonymous Internet trolls will have to fork over millions for allegedly causing mental anguish, loss of reputation and loss of business.

And all the couple had to do was trample on the American Constitution.

"It’s pretty significant," Dallas-based cyber attorney Peter Vogel tells the local ABC affiliate, WFAA TV. Vogel was not personally involved in the case but agrees that the implications it brings will be a big blow to the constitutional rights of Americans down the line.

"People cannot hide behind the First Amendment and say anything they want,” he tells the station.

That seems like enough for the happy couple, though.

"This vindicates us. This is vindication for all the scurrilous, vile, defamatory statements that caused us to be indicted, to be tried, that caused us to move out of town and my wife to lose her business," Mark Lesher says to the Texarkana Gazette. "You can't post anonymous lies on the Internet without suffering the consequences."

The nasty name calling began in 2008 when Shannon Coyel claimed that she was sexually assaulted while on the ranch operated by the Leshers. Months down the road, a jury in Collin County, Texas acquitted the couple of all alleged crimes, but the case was far from over. On Topix.com, a Silicon Valley-based community of message boards that ranks within the top 500 most visited site in the United States, the discussion continued even after the Leshers had been relieved of sex crime charges.

Although the court found the Leshers not guilty, Topix posters had their doubts. Before long over 25,000 comments were published to message boards spanning around 70 different threads. When ABC News covered the story at the start of their trial, they recall Web searches for the couple’s name to return such slurs as “child molesters,” “rapists” and “drug dealers.” Others would even go as far as to say that the couple was “herpes infested.”

"From the time I was indicted in April, my business fell off to just almost zero. It really just went to zero. I mean who's going to hire someone accused of rape?” Mark Lesher asked ABC at the time.

"The people who have hid behind the anonymity of the Internet need to be held accountable and brought to justice.”

Now three years later, a jury is demanding that three of the culprits who own computers matching the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses tied to a handful of the posts be held responsible for the hardships the Leshers have allegedly suffered in the years since acquitted. When the Leshers first started their legal fight, they asked for the real life identities of nearly 200 pseudonyms used to degrade them on the Web. By the end of the investigation, they had linked a computer that connected online to an Internet service registered to Shannon Coyel’s husband, Jerry Coyel, to a handful of the names. Now both Coyels and one of their employers are being told to pay up to the tune of more than $13 million.

Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, tells ABC News that the figure settled on for the Fort Worth couple just seems "a bit overboard."

When ABC approached Tolles at the start of the case, the CEO said he would be okay with a “reasonable solution” to the complaint, but said that speaking freely was the heart of his operation.

"We have a business to run and that does give people the right to speak anonymously," he said.

Not anymore, it seems.

http://rt.com/usa/lesher-lawsuit-topix-internet-890/
 
Report to moderator   Logged

w
a_ahmed
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 5772


Team Nasser


« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2013, 08:54:19 PM »

interesting
Report to moderator   Logged
Soul Crusher
Competitors
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 8619


Doesnt lie about lifting.


« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2013, 02:43:34 AM »

Good luck trying collect
Report to moderator   Logged
Beach Bum
Moderator
Getbig V
*****
Gender: Male
Posts: 41399


« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2013, 12:57:36 PM »

Why are you posting this article from April 2012? 

You also didn't include the fact the verdict was thrown out.  Did they appeal?

Judge throws out $14 million jury award in online libel case
Posted Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2012
BY DARREN BARBEE
dbarbee@star-telegram.com

A Tarrant County judge has thrown out a jury's nearly $14 million Internet libel verdict in a case that garnered national attention and was called the largest such award involving online defamation.

With her ruling, state District Judge Dana Womack sided with the defendants who argued that the jury's verdict was not supported by the evidence. The judgment, signed late last week, does not explain her reasoning. Womack declined through a court official to comment.

One of the defendants said he understood that the jury had wanted to send a message with its decision.

"But if you're going to penalize somebody for doing it, make sure you get the people who did it," said the defendant, Charlie Doescher, who lives in Kennedale.

The case originated after a woman employed by Mark and Rhonda Lesher accused them of sexually assaulting her. They were indicted but acquitted at trial.

The Leshers later sued, saying the woman and her husband, along with their employees, smeared them in blog postings to ruin the Leshers' reputations. The case took years to get to the jury. In April, a Tarrant County jury voted 10-2 to award the couple $13.78 million. Defendants Shannon and Gerald Coyel and Doescher, who worked for the Coyels, were ordered to pay varying amounts of the award.

In a motion filed last month, the defendants' attorneys argued that no evidence presented to the court tied them to the posts. A review "will show the IP address allegedly tied to Gerald and Shannon Coyel's home is nowhere to be found," the court document said. The motion also argued that no evidence supported an award of mental anguish for the Leshers, nor was there evidence that their reputations were injured and Rhonda Lesher's beauty salon lost profits.

Rhonda Lesher, who said she moved after the online posts wrecked her business, said Tuesday that the verdict's reversal was a "slap in the face." She said the couple plan to appeal.

Many of the blog posts were vile -- Lesher said there were more than 25,000 entries -- including that her customers engaged in sexual perversions and molestations, drug dealing and other criminal activity. Among the posts, one stated "...they got 'HERPIES' and 'AIDS'!" Another read, "These are the 'SLIMEST' 'LYING' 'PERVERTED' 'CHILD MOLESTING' 'HELPLESS WOMAN RAPING' 'SCUM' I have ever heard of!"

Lesher said she and her husband had asked for $5 million in damages, but the jury went far beyond that. Though she still feels she has been vindicated, the judge's ruling "took my breath way."

"I just felt gut shot," she said. "Don't get me wrong, I had not spent any [of the award] money in my mind. I wasn't counting my chickens before the eggs hatched. ... We have worked for four years and have spent as much as we've spent to get to bottom of it to get some vindication."

Lesher said the couple sold their ranch to pay for attorneys and have paid civil and criminal trial costs of more than $1 million. The couple still have a suit pending in Collin County against district attorney prosecutors for malicious prosecution, she said.

"The amount of torment and pain we have endured it's really hard to put into words," she said.

According to the lawsuit, Shannon Coyel, a former client of Mark Lesher, an attorney, accused the Leshers and one of their employees of sexually assaulting her. The criminal trial was moved to Collin County because of pre-trial publicity, and the jury acquitted all three in January 2009.

Coyel said the trial was "humiliating" and that she saw a counselor for more than two years to deal with her experiences, including the ordeal with the blog posts.

She said she copes through "My faith in God. I go to bed every night and I pray God takes my worries away," she said.

Media reports about the jury's verdict angered her, she said, because they came before the case was closed. Coyel said she was never worried about the money that she was supposed to pay -- roughly $2 million.

"They would never get a dime from me because I don't have a dime to give them," she said.

She also said that the blog posts disgusted her and that her husband barely uses a computer. "Just to even read [the posts], there's got to be something mentally wrong with you," she said.

The judge, she said, did an excellent job and followed the law in her ruling.

"This is how the judicial system is supposed to work," she said. "The judge ... could see through all the smoke and mirrors."

Doescher, who also had been ordered to pay money, said he did not know the Leshers and had never seen them until he walked into the courtroom.

"They were out for revenge," he said.

Being dragged into the lawsuit was an ordeal for him, he said. "It hurt my life so much."

In her ruling, Womack orders the Leschers to pay the defendants' court costs.

Judge Joe Spurlock II, a law professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, said judges have the ability to disregard jury verdicts, dismiss the case and have it retried or allow a person who wins to agree to reduce the award.

Judges in U.S. courts can set aside a verdict when they believe that it was somehow unjust, biased, prejudiced or otherwise compromised, said Spurlock, formerly a district judge in Fort Worth who also served on the appellate court.

"Judges hate to do this," Spurlock said, noting that jury decisions are held in high regard as a foundational institution. "We only do it on those rare occasions that it's not proper justice, it was just not properly served."

http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/06/13/4027734/judge-throws-out-14-million-jury.html
Report to moderator   Logged
24KT
Getbig V
*****
Gender: Female
Posts: 24448


Gold Savings Account Rep +1 (310) 409-2244


WWW
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2013, 03:36:28 PM »

Are you kidding me? Look at the size of the settlement!

Based on what you've posted, it appears the verdict was overturned only because it was levied against a few innocents. I just found it surprising a jury would determine almost 3 x's what the plaintiffs sought in damages.
Report to moderator   Logged

w
Beach Bum
Moderator
Getbig V
*****
Gender: Male
Posts: 41399


« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2013, 07:27:25 PM »

Are you kidding me? Look at the size of the settlement!

Based on what you've posted, it appears the verdict was overturned only because it was levied against a few innocents. I just found it surprising a jury would determine almost 3 x's what the plaintiffs sought in damages.

You found it surprising?  Over a year later?  Even though it was tossed?  Why the smiley face when you started the thread? 
Report to moderator   Logged
Teutonic Knight
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 5233


« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2013, 09:23:20 PM »

Are you kidding me? Look at the size of the settlement!

Based on what you've posted, it appears the verdict was overturned only because it was levied against a few innocents. I just found it surprising a jury would determine almost 3 x's what the plaintiffs sought in damages.

Hey, 24KT how much gold you have !? again  Cheesy
A U planing to be in Croatia on the 1st July Huh, heaps of gold will be there .
Report to moderator   Logged
24KT
Getbig V
*****
Gender: Female
Posts: 24448


Gold Savings Account Rep +1 (310) 409-2244


WWW
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2013, 05:28:09 PM »

You found it surprising?  Over a year later?

It only came to my attention when I posted it.

Quote
  Even though it was tossed?

I didn't know it had been tossed until you posted it.

Quote
  Why the smiley face when you started the thread? 

I always use some kind of emoticon when I start a thread. ...makes it easier to find later on.
Report to moderator   Logged

w
24KT
Getbig V
*****
Gender: Female
Posts: 24448


Gold Savings Account Rep +1 (310) 409-2244


WWW
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2013, 05:28:55 PM »

Hey, 24KT how much gold you have !? again  Cheesy
A U planing to be in Croatia on the 1st July Huh, heaps of gold will be there .

Nope. Won't be in Croatia on July 1st.
Report to moderator   Logged

w
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Theme created by Egad Community. Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!