Supreme Court, Judge bar attorneys from defamation suit
The Pennsylvania Superior Court sided with with Northumberland County President Judge Charles Saylor in barring attorneys Frank Kepner III and Frank Kepner Jr. from representing Joseph Walter “Mike” Egan in a defamation lawsuit filed against multiple media outlets and Sunbury Police Chief Tim Miller.
On Friday, the court denied the petition for review of the attorney’s disqualification. The Kepners represented Egan, the lead suspect in the Barbara Miller cold case homicide investigation. They were kicked off as legal counsel on Oct. 30 because Kepner also briefly represented Chief Miller, who is not related to Barbara Miller, just months before filing the lawsuit. Saylor denied their motion to reconsider and have a higher court of law review the issue in December, but they filed in the higher court anyhow.
Egan is suing several media outlets, including The Daily Item, for defamation after he said he was mentioned numerous times as the lead suspect in the 1989 disappearance of Barbara Miller. The 30-year-old woman vanished in July 1989 and was reported missing to Sunbury police by Egan.
Brownsville man sues DHS for racial discrimination
In a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week in federal court, a Brownsville man claims his employee security clearance was rescinded because of where he was born.
Jorge Cruz Fano claims he was discriminated against and his civil rights were violated when DHS officials rescinded his security clearance at the Port Isabel Detention Center without a legitimate reason, the lawsuit states.
“DHS’s actions are consistent with the Trump Administration’s … larger, racialized goals concerning immigration,” the lawsuit’s preliminary statement reads in part. “President Trump has long made clear his antipathy toward Mexican immigrants. On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump kicked off his campaign with a speech in which he labeled immigrants from Mexico ‘rapists’ and criminals. … DHS’s decision to rescind Cruz’s security clearance was infected with the intention to discriminate on the basis of race and/or ethnicity, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
Born in Veracruz, Mexico, Cruz’s U.S. residency is legal. He has a civil engineering degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, also known as Technologico de Estudios Superiories de Monterrey, the lawsuit states.
At the time DHS rescinded Cruz’s security clearance, he had been an employee with KCORP — which is based in Fairbanks, Alaska, and provides facility maintenance services for the detention center, as well as other DHS facilities — for more than three years.
Cruz filed a lawsuit Feb. 12 against DHS, former acting DHS deputy secretary Elaine C. Duke, current DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan, in their respective official capacities, claiming he was discriminated against because of his race.
The 44-year-old man claims two DHS/ICE employees — Janie Bennett, the assistant field office director of enforcement and removal operations for ICE; and Paul Salinas, the facility manager for ICE at the detention center — harassed and threatened Cruz prior to the rescission of his security clearance, court records show.
Cruz’s attorney, Anthony P. Troiani of Brownsville, declined to comment as litigation is pending.
Roy Moore asks for a change of venue in accuser’s defamation lawsuit
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore filed a motion Friday night seeking a venue change in a defamation lawsuit filed against him.
The lawsuit was filed by Leigh Corfman in the Montgomery Circuit Court. Moore wants the case to be moved to Etowah County. Attorneys for Moore say that’s a logical request, considering both Moore and Corfman live in Etowah County.
Corfman previously told the Washington Post that Moore sexually abused her when she was a 14-year-old girl and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore has denied all accusations of sexual misconduct several times.
Corfman’s suit asks the court to force Moore to “retract all defamatory statements made against Ms. Corfman, to publicly apologize for these defamatory statements, and to refrain from making further defamatory statements.” It also asks that the court forces Moore to pay the legal costs of the suit and “provide further relief as permitted by law and as the Court deems appropriate.”
The attorney’s representing Moore did not address the civil complaint lodged against the former Senate candidate. “The drama should properly play out where the underlying events at issue are alleged to have occurred – Etowah County – and not where the campaign had an office, now vacated, and a post office box,” Moore’s attorneys wrote.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore filed a motion Friday night seeking a venue change in a defamation lawsuit filed against him.The lawsuit was filed by Leigh Corfman in the Montgomery Circuit Court. Moore wants the case to be moved to Etowah County. Attorneys for Moore say that’s a logical request, considering both Moore and Corfman live in Etowah County.Corfman previously told the Washington Post that Moore sexually abused her when she was a 14-year-old girl and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.
Pennsylvania Treatment Center Files Defamation Suit Against Advocate for the Disabled
It seemed like a nightmare at the time: In late October, a New York advocacy group for people with special needs issued a blistering report that a treatment center in Pennsylvania was breaking the law by restraining its residents, among them, a child with an intellectual disability.
In less than a decade, the report claimed, negligence by the center, Woods Services, had led to the deaths of two New York residents. One, the report claimed, was run over by several cars in 2009 when staff members failed to supervise him. The following year, the report found, another resident suffocated in a hot car.
On Wednesday, Woods Services fought back, filing a defamation lawsuit in Federal District Court in Philadelphia claiming that the report by the advocacy group, Disability Rights New York, was rife with “unfounded accusations, misleading characterizations and outright falsehoods.” The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, asked a federal judge to issue two court orders: one declaring that the report was false, the second requiring Disability Rights New York to issue a retraction and an apology.
“Woods has a century-long legacy of delivering on our mission,” a spokeswoman for the center, Cheryl Kauffman, said. “That includes our obligation to zealously safeguard and protect the individuals we serve and the staff who serve them.”
According to the lawsuit, the advocacy group’s report, which ended an investigation that began in June 2016, made 34 recommendations for “corrective actions,” but ignored the fact that Disability Rights New York knew — or should have known — that most of the suggestions were already in place, were impossible to install or would “degrade resident safety.” The suit also said that instead of allowing Woods Services to review and respond before the report was published, Disability Rights New York released it through its website and social media accounts.
Internet Marketing Company Files $3.5M Defamation Lawsuit Against Rival
A Texas-based internet marketing company has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $3.5 million from a Connecticut competitor that it claimed engaged in fraudulent advertising.
In its lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Adscend Media claims it’s lost millions in ad revenue because of a targeted attack by Norwalk-based DoGood Media. Adscend claims the attacks left several of its websites blacklisted, a move that’s significantly cut its revenue.
At the crux of the lawsuit is what Adscend called an inadvertent programming error made by an employee. As a result, people using mobile devices to view content on one of its three video platforms were shown advertisements multiple times instead of the licensed video that was supposed to follow.
Adscend discovered the error on LootUp.tv and immediately corrected it, according to the lawsuit.
Adscend operates in a marketing space where internet users watch licensed videos along with an advertisement, and earn a small reward for watching the content.
The lawsuit claims DoGood Media and Eric Farrell, its account manager, took advantage of the error by creating a video titled “A Look at Adscend Media’s Deceptive Ad Monetization System.” The lawsuit claims the video accused Adscend of hacking and cheating the system to “defraud advertisers.”
The video was sent to Adscend’s advertising partners earlier this month, according to the lawsuit. Soon afterward, advertising partner SpotX informed Adscend that all of its websites and applications were being blacklisted, cutting of a source of revenue.
On Jan. 18, Adscend learned ad verification service WhiteOps blacklisted its three primary domains used to host its video platform, further reducing revenue, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit includes claims for defamation per se, defamation, intentional interference with prospective economic advantages, and unfair trade practices.
In addition to the $3.5 million in monetary damages, Adscend wants the video removed from YouTube, and is asking that the court require DoGood to send written communications to each business forwarded the video.
Lawsuit: Racism, talk of Trump-inspired ‘fence’ at Mt. Healthy police department
A federal lawsuit filed this week alleging a culture of racism within Mount Healthy’s police department is the third in recent years involving one of its African-American officers.
The previous two lawsuits, filed in 2016 and 2017, involved part-time officers. The newest lawsuit was filed by a current full-time officer, Paul Scott, who documents say was the first African-American hired by the small department.
The lawsuit includes allegations that Police Chief Vince Demasi talked with officers about “Demasi’s fence.” The fence was being put up, the lawsuit says, to stop residents of a predominantly African-American apartment complex in Springfield Township from walking through an area that separates the complex from a Mount Healthy shopping center.
During that March 2016 discussion, according to the lawsuit, officers talked about building a wall between the communities – after first discussing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexican border.
“The conversation became even more offensive and racist,” the lawsuit says. An officer suggested they build a moat, where the apartment complex’s residents would “drop into and drown.”
According to the lawsuit, someone then suggested a sign that warned of prosecution:
“Officers said they would need to define the word ‘prosecution,’ implying the African-American residents were not intelligent enough to read or comprehend the sign.”
A day later, on March 18, 2016, Officer Scott filed a complaint with his supervisor about the discussion surrounding the fence.
The lawsuit says Scott complained that Demasi “encouraged the conversation.”
Mount Healthy City Manager Bill Kocher declined to comment. Demasi said he could not talk about pending litigation.
Demasi did say his department does not “condone, accept or allow any type of racial activity to occur.”
He said an outside law firm was hired by the city to investigate Scott’s allegations.
“They found no evidence of any racial discrimination or any issues,” Demasi said.
In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination
As is tradition, here is JBC’s annual countdown of the top 10 human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan over the past year. In ascending order:
10) As Japan’s population falls, NJ residents hit record
Figures released in 2017 indicated that Japan’s society is not just continuing to age and depopulate, but that the trends are accelerating. Annual births fell under 1 million — a record low — while deaths reached a record high. The segment of the population aged 65 or older also accounted for a record 27 percent of the total.
In contrast, after four years (2010-2013) of net outflow, the NJ resident influx set new records. A registered 2.38 million now make up 1.86 percent of Japan’s total population, somewhat offsetting the overall decline.
Alas, that didn’t matter. Japanese media as usual tended to report “Japan’s population” not in terms of people living in Japan, but rather Nihonjin (Japanese citizens), indicating once again that NJ residents simply don’t count.
9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit
Japan’s secondary schools have a degree of uniformity that stifles diversity. And this trend reached its logical conclusion with the news that one school was forcing children with natural hair color that’s anything but black to dye and straighten their locks.
We talked about dyeing a decade ago (“Schools single out foreign roots,” July 17, 2007), noting its adverse effects on children’s physical and mental health. Yet the Asahi Shimbun reported in May that 57 percent of surveyed Tokyo metropolitan high schools still require “proof of real hair color.” In Osaka, it’s more like 80 percent.
Last October a student filed suit against Osaka Prefecture for mental anguish. Kaifukan High School in the city of Habikino had forced her to dye her naturally brown hair every four days, regardless of the rashes and scalp irritation. When even that proved insufficiently black, she was barred from a school festival and then summarily deleted from the school register.
Lawsuit: Sam’s Club discriminated against transgender worker
A transgender woman said in a lawsuit Wednesday that she was called “it” and “thing” by co-workers and then wrongfully fired from a North Carolina Sam’s Club store after repeatedly complaining about harassment.
The federal lawsuit by Charlene Bost seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks the court to order the big box retailer to train employees to prevent future harassment of transgender workers. It says Bost was wrongfully fired in 2015 from the Kannapolis store in retaliation for her complaints.
Transgender people around the country are increasingly taking employers or schools to court to demand that their rights be protected, and North Carolina has been the site of a protracted legal battle over state laws governing which restrooms transgender people can use.
The executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represents Bost, said legal battles over transgender employee rights are becoming more common.
“Given the increase in the number of transgender people who are coming out, particularly at earlier and earlier ages, I think we’re going to see many more claims in the future for discrimination against transgender people,” said Jillian Weiss, the fund’s executive director, in an interview. Weiss added that it’s important for “employers to recognize that prejudice still exists among their employees.”
Bost hadn’t yet transitioned to life as a woman when she began working in 2004 at a Sam’s Club location about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Charlotte. Bost said she received praise and was promoted to supervisor before she began to express her feminine identity at work in 2008.
The lawsuit said the harassment by co-workers and multiple managers began around that time and escalated as Bost began wearing her hair longer and adding makeup to her appearance. In 2014, one co-worker told a customer as Bost walked by: “Here comes that thing with an attitude,” the lawsuit says.
Trump too busy and important to face defamation lawsuit, president’s lawyers claim
Can you sue the president? The finer points of this question were subject to much legal sparring on Tuesday when a lawyer for Donald Trump argued for the dismissal of a lawsuit that threatens to reignite one of dozens of accusations of sexual assault facing the president.
The lawsuit was brought by a former contestant on The Apprentice, Summer Zervos, who claims Trump kissed her and groped her breast during a 2007 meeting to discuss business opportunities at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Trump thunderously denied her accusations, along with those of other women he called politically motivated liars. Zervos is suing Trump for defamation.
Or rather, she’s trying. In a hearing before a New York judge, Jennifer Schechter, to determine the case’s future, Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz argued that Zervos shouldn’t be allowed to proceed with her suit.
Trump’s denials were political speech, he said, protected from legal action, and a lawsuit would prevent the president, who holds a singular office, from performing his job.
“The president is the person who runs the executive branch,” Kasowitz said. “He needs to be available 24/7.”
The potential impact of Zervos’s lawsuit, if she is allowed to proceed, is immeasurable. It would almost certainly link Trump’s name more permanently to the scores of powerful men recently accused of sexual misconduct.
There is a chance Trump could be compelled to testify, something that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings when he was revealed to have lied under oath.
Her lawsuit could also expose Trump, who faced roughly 75 lawsuits when he assumed the presidency, to a flood of litigation.
For political observers, the case brings a wave of deja vu. In 1997, the US supreme court ruled a president could be sued for private conduct that took place before he assumed office. The lawsuit in question was brought against Clinton by Paula Jones, on claims that he sexually harassed her.
Gaslamp Killer Files $5 Million Defamation Lawsuit Over Rape Accusation
William Bensussen, the electronic music producer and longtime Low End Theory resident known as The Gaslamp Killer, has filed a $5 million defamation lawsuit against two women who accused him last month on social media of drugging and raping them in 2013. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Nov. 13, names the two women, Chelsea Tadros and RaeAn Medina, along with Tadros’ boyfriend, Jack Wagner.
The 26-page suit, a copy of which was obtained by L.A. Weekly, seeks damages on seven counts, including defamation by libel, false light, interference with contractual relations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“These false and despicable allegations have sabotaged Mr. Bensussen’s career, upended his personal life, and led to the cancellation of his shows,” Bensussen’s attorney, Parag Amin, said via a written statement. “Mr. Bensussen is seeking to restore his good name the right way — through a court of law, where people must testify under oath and there is accountability for false statements.”
Tadros, Medina and Wagner did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Through a representative, Bensussen also declined to comment, instead referring to a press release that included statements from his attorney, Amin.
“False stories like the ones perpetrated by these two women further victimize real victims of assault,” Amin said.Bensussen was first accused of rape on Oct. 12, by a woman then identified only as Chelsea, who posted a screenshot on Twitter of a lengthy statement in which she “falsely [claimed] that she and Medina were raped by Bensussen on July 5, 2013 after being drugged at The Standard hotel in Downtown Los Angeles,” as described in the suit, which reprints the original accusation in full. In her statement, Tadros claimed after she and her friend, Medina, returned from the bathroom, Bensussen gave them drinks that had been spiked with some kind of drug.