Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sandal's Resort to Pre-Litigation Discovery to ID Anonymous E=mailer Snubbed by Judge

Appellate Division of the New York State Supre...Image via WikipediaIn Sandals Resorts International Ltd. v. Google (Case No.100628/10), a unanimous New York Appellate Division, First Department panel this week refused a potential defamation plaintiff's pre-litigation request for information identifying the pseudonymous sender of the allegedly libelous email.

The New York Law Journal reports that the appellate court's decision, written by Justice David B. Saxe, said taken as a whole, the allegedly defamatory online post constituted opinion and was not actionable. The offending email criticized the resort operator's treatment of Jamaicans, alleging they were hired only for low-paying menial jobs, but the Court refused to compel Google to produce to Sandals information concerning email account asjft3092@gmail.com.

The Court cautioned against companies employing subpoenas to "enlist the help of (ISPs) via court orders to silence their online critics (which) threatens to stifle the free exchange of ideas."  Judge Saxe said Sandals failed to show it was harmed by the email in question. 

"To the extent the email suggests that Sandals' hiring of native Jamaicans is limited to menial and low-paying jobs, Judge Saxe wrote, "a reasonable reader would understand that as an allegation to be investigated, rather than as a fact."

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