I need four responses of at least 150 words each for the below students discussions for this week. Also in the bold below are the questions the students at answering.
Prompt: Review the case of NEMET CHEVROLET LTD v. CONSUMERAFFAIRS COM INCORPORATED found here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-4th-circuit/1498498.html. Briefly summarize the facts. What was the issue in this case? What was the court’s holding and the basis for the holding? ‘
In addition, define and discuss the difference between libel and slander. Research and find a current case in the news that involves a potential case of defamation. Provide the link to the case. Briefly summarize the facts and the defamation being claimed in the case. How likely is it that the court will rule in favor of the Plaintiff in this case and why?
The case of Nemet Chevrolet Ltd v. consumeraffairs.com involved the issue of defamation, tortious interference of the business and violation of the Lanham Act, amounting to five issues for the court to decide. The Communications Decency Act (CDA) allows for immunity from defamation and tortious interference under certain cases and the question is does consumeraffairs.com qualify.
The issue presented were reviews placed on the consumeraffairs.com website which were negative and made Nemet Chevrolet look bad to customers who read the review. The court ruled the website owners were exempt from liability when others post their experiences on their site, as protected by the CDA. The website was merely a forum of thoughts and not the opinions of the website owners.
At the core of this case is who has committed libel by their review of Nemet Chevrolet with their written words. The difference between libel and slander is libel is written while slander is spoken. While the court felt the website was not libelous, it seems maybe the individuals could be and that could have been a direction Nemet Chevrolet had taken.
A recent case filed in Charlottesville, Virginia against a local weekly publication for libel is on the link below:
Tayloe v. C-Ville Holdings, LLC is a defamation case where the plaintiff claims their personal and professional reputations were damaged by an article in C-Ville Weekly published March 6, 2019. This case states the publication paints Edward Tayloe as someone who is against removing confederate statues and renaming parks because he is racist. The line of contention in the article was a quote from a University of Virginia professor, Jalane Schmidt, â€œFor generations, this family (Edward Tayloe) has been roiling the lives of black people and this is what (Tayloe) chooses to pursue.â€
While the line doesnâ€™t explicitly state the basis for Mr. Tayloeâ€™s case of slanderous defamation in the amount of $1.7 million in damages, it is the line he quotes in his lawsuit. It seems like there was some interpretation of the original line from the article and this is not a strong case. Also another problem with this case is how it is teetering on the line of being a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). SLAPP is a tool used, by wealthy individuals or businesses, to silence or even harass any critics by making them spend money on baseless lawsuits.
After five months in the courts, the circuit court judge dismissed the case deciding the comments were not libelous. The defendant was looking for their attorney fees to be paid by the plaintiff based on anti-SLAPP laws in the state of Virginia but the judge dismissed the case on grounds which negated any SLAPP implications.
Hamblin, B. (2019, October 30). Judge dismisses defamation lawsuit over C-Ville Weekly article. Retrieved from https://www.cbs19news.com/content/news/Judge-dismi…
Lee, D. (2019). Libel and Slander. Retrieved from https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/997/l…
Longhine, L. (2019, October 30). This week, 10/30. Retrieved from https://www.c-ville.com/this-week-10-30/
Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. filed suit against Consumeraffairs.com, Inc in the Fourth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. Consumeraffairs.com is a website that lets consumers post their reviews about businesses, to include their products, level of quality and customer services, and other relevant services. These posts are available to the public to be viewed. Nemet Chevrolet is an automotive dealership who alleged that Consumeraffairs.com posted falsified consumer comments and comments that were harmful to their business and reputation. Nemet also alleged that Consumeraffairs.com solicited posts from consumers with the promise of monetary gain through class action lawsuits and also to attract other negative posts against Nemet. The defendant moved to dismiss the claims stating that they had immunity as an â€œinteractive computer serviceâ€, rather than an â€œinformation providerâ€. The court dismissed plaintiffâ€™s claims, ruling that immunity from the CDA 230 still stands because they failed to show the plausibility of their claims that Consumeraffairs.com created content, which would then classify them as an â€œinformation providerâ€.
The main issue of the lawsuit was the allegation of defamation made by Nemet against Consumeraffairs.com. The plaintiff asserts that the defendant falsified information and solicited consumers to create and post negative information about their business. Nemet filed suit on the basis of liability, which was found to be successful in the case of Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC.
The court ultimately ruled in favor of the defendantâ€™s immunity under CDA 230, which meant that Consumeraffairs.com could not be held legally responsible for defamation as the information posted on their website was done by third-parties, i.e. the customers who had dealt with Nemet Chevrolet. As Nemet could not sufficiently show that the 8 posts alleged to be fictitious were fabricated and posted by Consumeraffairs.com, the court held that the defendant could not be classified as an â€œinformation providerâ€. Due to this, the plaintiffâ€™s claims were dismissed based on the framework within the Communications Decency Act.
According to our textbook, libel is when defamatory content or statements are made in written and published context (Mayer et. al, n.d.) This can be on websites, online articles, social media or in magazines, books, etc.; basically, any type of platform that publishes written content. Slander is when the defamatory statements are in spoken form (by word of mouth). This can include gossip from one person to another, or through other outlets such as television, radio, or over the phone (Mayer et al., n.d.). Obviously, the difference between the two forms of defamation is that one is written and one is spoken, although the statements must be false to be considered grounds for defamation and they must harm the reputation of another (Mayer et al., n.d.).
A current case concerning defamation claims that caught my attention is that of Elon Musk and an explorer named Vernon Unsworth. The best link concerning this case that I was able to find is on the website for The New York Times:
Unsworth is suing Musk for defamatory statements posted on Twitter by Musk in 2018 in which he called Unsworth a â€œpedo guyâ€ and a â€œchild rapistâ€ in an email to a reporter, referring to Unsworth as a pedophile. Musk moved to dismiss the case, however, the US District Court in Los Angeles rejected this motion. Judge Wilson, the judge over the case, has set the case to go to trial on December 3. It is interesting to note that this will be a jury trial, which will allow average citizens chosen to be on the jury to decide how such cases concerning social media posts should be handled.
I feel that the plaintiff, Mr. Unsworth, has a very good chance of winning. Judge Wilson dismissed Muskâ€™s claim that Unsworth is a public figure, instead stating that he is a private figure, which will make it much easier for the plaintiff to prove defamation (Zaveri, 2019). This is due to the fact that private figures essentially only have to prove negligence on the defendantâ€™s part in the defamatory statements, whereas if Unsworth was held as a public figure, he would have to prove â€œactual maliceâ€ (Zaveri, 2019). In addition, because this will be a jury trial, I lean towards the jury ruling in favor of the person who was on the receiving on of such derogatory statements as being called a pedophile. I feel that the jury will see that, even though the statements are false accusations against the plaintiff, they can be harmful to his image and reputation, as well as not being so easily forgotten, especially since they were made by such a huge public figure as Elon Musk, on a public social media platform.
Mayer, D., Warner, D., Siedel, G. Lieberman, J., & Martina, A. (n.d.) Business law and the legal environment. Washington, D. C.: Saylor Foundation. Retrieved from: https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_business-law-and-the-legal-environment-v1.0-a/
NEMET CHEVROLET LTD v. CONSUMERAFFAIRS.COM INCORPORATED. (2009). Retrieved from https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-4th-circuit/1498498.html.
Zaveri, M. (2019). Elon Musk Ordered to Stand Trial in Cave Explorerâ€™s Defamation Case. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/business/media/elon-musk-defamation-lawsuit.html.
Consumersaffairs.com, Incorporated is a website that is used by consumers to provide commentary on different businesses, goods, and services. A suit is presented to the website by Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd for negative comments made by others on the website regarding services received at Nemet Chevrolet. The suit is presented to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, â€œfor defamation and tortious interference with a business expectancy.â€ The suit is ultimately dismissed due to federal ruling that precludes individuals from holding an interactive computer service provider liable for any comments published by members of the public. In response to the dismissal, Nemet Chevrolet entered an amended complaint. In the amended complaint Nemet stresses that Consummeraffairs.com is considered an â€œinformation content providerâ€ which eliminates the dismissed ruling stating that the website was liable because it was in whole or in part responsible for the creation of the comments in the first place.
Although both slander and libel are two types of defamation, the context is what defines them. Both are false statements; however, slander is an oral statement while libel is a written statement. These two types of defamation can inflict numerous types of setbacks to a company or individuals that can range from emotional distress to and/or monetary damages. According to the New York Times, a current case regarding tech billionaire Elon Musk and a British cave explorer, Vernon Unsworth is currently underway. It all began back in June of last year when a youth Thailand soccer team was trapped inside of a cave. The incident raised attention and became international with multiple high-profile individuals and companies volunteering assistance. Elon Musk and Vernon Unsworth did not seem to see eye to eye in finding a solution to save the young children and tensions grew throughout the process. Comments were made back and forth including a tweet via- Twitter where Mr. Musk refers to Mr. Unsworth a â€œpedo guyâ€. Musk goes onto accuse Mr. Unsworth of having a child bride and calling him a rapist via-emails with a reporter. Mr. Unsworth is now suing Elon Musk for defamation. The emails and tweets from Mr. Musk are going to be part of Mr. Unsworthâ€™s defamation claim that is set to begin on December 3rd, 2019 for a jury trial.
In any case, assuming what the court will favor can be tricky as there are numerous ways to defend just about anything. In this case, I believe the fact that Mr. Musk is a public figure and how he conducted himself via-Twitter can jeopardize him or at the very least, question his emotional stability. Furthermore, the article mentions that Mr. Muskâ€™s attorney attempted to throw out the lawsuit and was unsuccessful. I believe that the court will rule in the plaintiffâ€™s favor as the basis of his case has become public and have a strong chance of crippling his reputation and emotional distress.
Zaveri, M. (2019, November 20). Elon Musk, Accused of Defaming Cave Explorer, Must Stand Trial, Judge Says. Retrieved November 20, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/business/media/elon-musk-defamation-lawsuit.html.
This week I will be looking at the case of NEMET CHEVROLET LTD v. CONSUMERAFFAIRS COM INCORPORATED. A brief summary of the facts and the issues of the case will be examined as well as the courtâ€™s holding for the case. I will also look at the difference between libel and slander. A current case of defamation in the news will also be summarized.
The facts of the case this week are that Nemet Chevrolet (Plaintiff) was filing a libel defamation case against the website ConsumerAffairs.com (Defendant). The Plaintiff was claiming that 20 posts, client reviews of Nemet Chevrolet, on the ConsumerAffairs.com website were defamatory (NEMET CHEVROLET, LTD; Thomas Nemet, d/b/a/ Nemet Motors, Plaintiffs-Appellants v. CONSUMERAFFAIRS.COM, INCORPORATED, Defendant-Appellee, 2009). The Defendant filed a motion under Â§ 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which â€œprecludes plaintiffs from holding interactive computer providers liable for the publication of information created and developed by othersâ€ (NEMET CHEVROLET, LTD; Thomas Nemet, d/b/a/ Nemet Motors, Plaintiffs-Appellants v. CONSUMERAFFAIRS.COM, INCORPORATED, Defendant-Appellee, 2009) to have this suit dismissed, and the district court granted it. It was based on the fact that the Plaintiff could not provide sufficient evidence to prove that the Defendant authored the 20 posts in question. This ruling was upheld by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Defamation is a charge under tort law. Slander and libel are both types of defamation. Libel is â€œa defamatory statement published in written formâ€ (Mayer, Warner, Siedel, Lieberman, & Martina, n.d., p. 247). Slander is when â€œharm is done through the spoken wordâ€ (Mayer, n.d., p. 247).
A potential defamation case that is going to be before the courts involves a libel suit against Elon Musk in the case of Unsworth v. Musk, 18-cv8048, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Pattersson, 2019). Elon Musk is being sued for libel after calling a U.K. cave diver, Vernon Unsowrth, a â€œpedo guyâ€ in a tweet and a â€œchild rapistâ€ in an email to a Buzzfeed reporter during the recent rescue of the Thai boys who were trapped in the flooded caves (Pattersson, 2019). Elon Musk tried to have this case thrown out by claiming protection through the 1st Amendment. Musk claimed that he and Unsworth were in a public controversy and as such should be protected under the 1st Amendment (Pattersson, 2019). This claim was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson. I think that it will be difficult for the court to rule in favor of Unsworth as he will have â€œto persuade the jury by a preponderance of evidence rather than clear and convincing evidenceâ€ (Pattersson, 2019).
Mayer, D., Warner, D., Siedel, G., Lieberman, J., & Martina, A. (n.d.). Business law and legal environment. Washington, D.C.: Saylor Foundation. Retrieved from https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_business-law-a…
NEMET CHEVROLET, LTD; Thomas Nemet, d/b/a/ Nemet Motors, Plaintiffs-Appellants v. CONSUMERAFFAIRS.COM, INCORPORATED, Defendant-Appellee, 08-2097 (United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit December 29, 2009). Retrieved from https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-4thcircuit/1498498….
Pattersson, E. (2019, October 28). Elon Musk Headed to Trial in U.K. Caver’s Defamation Case. Retrieved from Bloomberg.com: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-28…