Woodbridge Structured Funding, LLC v. Pissed Consumer, et al.

Opinion and Order Denying Disclosure of Identity of Anonymous Website Commenters

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The petitioner sought an order forcing PissedConsumer.com, an Internet message board, to provide— on virtually no notice, and without any notice to the third parties involved — information identifying one or more anonymous Internet users who allegedly posted defamatory statements about petitioner.

We argued that no such order should be issued for various reasons.

First, petitioner failed to base its application for emergent, essentially ex parte relief under CPLR 3102 on competent evidence. Secondly, petitioner failed to meet t the legal requirement under New York law that before a court authorizes discovery that would deprive someone of his First Amendment right to speak anonymously, one must do more than baldly allege defamation. Instead, petitioner must make an evidentiary showing in support of their claims, and must do so upon notice to the anonymous speaker that his anonymity is at risk so that he may have an opportunity to protect her rights.

Moreover, the context in which the supposedly defamatory statements were made—an Internet gripe site—did not meet New York’s requirement for defamation that actionable comments be published in a context a social and circumstantial context in which they are likely to be deemed reliable or credible.

Petitioner met none of these standards. The court agreed, denying its application and refusing to enter an order providing the identifying information.

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Published In: Civil Procedure Updates, Civil Remedies Updates, Civil Rights Updates, Communications & Media Updates, Constitutional Law Updates

Reference Info:Decision | State, 2nd Circuit, New York | United States