I'll Sue You, My Pretty, And Your Little Lawyer Too!

Effluvia

Yesterday I wrote about how Ranaan Katz, an owner of the Miami Heat, was demonstrating less self-respect and good judgment than George Costanza by suing over an unflattering picture as part of a litigation campaign to silence a critic.

You're thinking "there's nowhere else for him and his lawyers to go. They can't double down. This can't get worse."

And now it falls to me to take you by the lapels, shake you, and shout "YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON POPEHAT-READER!

Marc Randazza, counsel for the blogger Katz is ritually suing, has a jaw-dropping update. He offers a motion he just filed seeking a protective order in the case — a protective order rendered necessary by Katz's threat to sue Randazza and his co-counsel for representing the blogger. I've hosted Marc's motion and its exhibits here so as not to steal his bandwidth.

Here's what the motion shows: not content to file two lawsuits against the blogger, Katz is now threatening to sue the blogger's lawyers, Randazza and Robert Kain of Kain & Associates. Katz's lawyer Alan J. Kluger of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L. sent Randazza and Kain a letter threatening to sue them for their representation of the blogger and demanding that they provide information explaining why they should not. Kluger — who attempted unsuccessfully to shame Randazza by suggesting that Randazza's client is like the deranged Crystal Cox — argued in the draft complaint that Randazza's and Kain's defense amounts to participation in defamation. My commentary on each paragraph is in bold and italics below:

33. Rather than merely providing legal counsel to Chevaldina, the Kain Finn and the Randazza Finn (collectively, the "Firms") have actually been providing substantial assistance and encouragement to Chevaldina to perpetuate the tortious misconduct, and are accessories to her unlawful activities both before-the-fact and after-the-fact. [Note: vague and ambiguous. Amounts to a claim that representing someone accused of defamation is the same as participating in the defamation.]

34. With the knowledge that Chevaldina's defamation and "cyber-bullying" of Plaintiffs amounts to defamation per se because her false publications about Plaintiffs have the tendency to injure Plaintiffs in their trade or profession and subject Plaintiffs to hatred, distrust, ridicule, contempt or disgrace, the Finns have assisted Chevaldina in continuing to post defamatory materials while disingenuously arguing that these defamatory po stings are protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. [Note the "with knowledge" clause, which amounts to saying "they KNOW their client is awful, but they represent her anyway!" Note also the "disingenuously arguing" language, which amounts to saying "you can't represent that person and make arguments on their behalf because they are WRONG."]

35. Defendants have encouraged and assisted Chevaldina phrase her defamatory postings in an effort to seek protection under the First Amendment and/or to delay the proceedings against Chevaldina to enable her to irreparably harm Plaintiffs. [Wow. This one seems to amount to "they've advise a client about how to phrase criticism so that it's protected by the First Amendment, and THAT'S CONSPIRACY." Am I being punked here? Ashton? Is that you?]

36. Defendants also know that Chevaldina's false statements are tortiously interfering with Plaintiffs' business and contractual relationships by causing existing and prospective tenants and customers to avoid engaging in business with Plaintiffs, yet they continue to assist and encourage her in pursuing her misconduct. ["These lawyers continue to represent a client I don't like and to take legal positions I don't agree with, so I am suing them."

37. Moreover, Defendants know that Chevaldina has repeatedly testified falsely under oath, yet they have done nothing to correct her lies despite their obligations as officers of the court. [This one is familiar: "The OPPOSING ATTORNEYS ARE CONSPIRING TO PRESENT FALSE EVIDENCE! PUT THEM IN JAIL!" Granted, usually I see this from pro se litigants in cases involving implanted microchips, but still -- very familiar.]

38. Finally, Defendants have instructed Chevaldina to plead the fifth amendment to deposition questions concerning whether she was involved in a malicious cyber-attack and viral infestation of the undersigned law firm's website, thus invoking the adverse inference in civil proceedings that Chevaldina was indeed involved in the vicious malware infection. Notwithstanding their knowledge that Chevaldina was involved in, or has information regarding, this unlawful behavior, the Law Finns have enabled and assisted Chevaldina to testify falsely under oath regarding the attack and the consequences and investigation thereof. ["THESE LAWYERS HAVE ADVISED THEIR CLIENT ABOUT HER CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS WITHOUT REGARD TO MY CLIENT'S BUTTHURT."]

Has this blogger written harmful false statements of fact about Katz? I don't know. If she has — if she's defamed him by writing false statements of fact with the requisite mental state, as opposed to stating opinions he doesn't like, or hyperbole — then Katz has a remedy at law, and a right to pursue it. There's nothing admirable about making deliberately false or reckless statements about someone. The fact that Katz seems to be a boob doesn't mean it's right to make up terrible things about him.

But Katz's attack on the blogger's lawyers is entirely ridiculous and contemptible. It reminds me not of a reasoned advocate, but of the assholes who say to me "how can you defend people like that." It's an expression of outrage that lawyers would work diligently and skillfully to defend someone accused of something awful. It's an expression of mock outrage that a lawyer would explain to a client how to invoke constitutional rights. It shows the resentment of the rich and powerful that the relatively powerless can get counsel too. It's notably vague and ambiguous about exactly how Randazza and Kain are acting as participants rather than advocates — and as I so frequently say, vagueness in legal threats is the hallmark of frivolous thuggery. Finally, as Randazza's motion shows, it is full of shit — the litigation privilege defends against such attacks on lawyers for defending their clients. It represents Mr. Kluger's self-regard overcoming his professionalism and good sense, leading him to drop his expensive trousers and take a dump on his profession.

In short, the threat makes the sender and the client look like self-absorbed bullies, worthy of no respect whatsoever.

I have to wonder: did Mr. Kluger advise Ranaan Katz, his client, about the natural and probable consequences of this escalation? Did Mr. Kluger tell Mr. Katz that doubling down by threatening to sue not just a critical blogger but the blogger's lawyers, the likely result was increasing the attention to the blogger's criticism by several orders of magnitude?

Perhaps that's what the next lawsuit will be about.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. mojo  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:27 am

    Gee, can you sue your own lawyer for "incredibly bad advice"?

  2. Robert C  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:27 am

    This is insane. I would hope that if somebody demanded that I write this, I'd tell them that I would help them find new representation, no matter how big a client they were.

  3. Grifter  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:28 am

    Wow. Looks like they're planning on going full Carreon!

  4. Foster  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:30 am

    i wonder if carreon will try this tatic and the defense to the suit and anybody whom has offred him help/advice

  5. SPQR  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:31 am

    Hmmm, somehow its got to be possible to create a counter-claim in tort to any such frivolous complaint … I gotta think about this.

  6. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:44 am

    Oh. My. God.

    Is batsh*t insanity a requisite of pro sports team ownership?

  7. Jonathan Kamens  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:51 am

    Is something this gratuitously stupid and evil subject to sanction by the court?

  8. Nicholas Weaver  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:01 pm

    Is something this gratuiously stupid and abusive subject to sanction by the state bar of Florida?

  9. bonez565  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:05 pm

    That's crazy, I was unaware that this was actually possible. There's no way that he could get away with this right?

  10. nlp  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:06 pm

    I went over to Simple Justice to see what Greenfield had to say, but apparently he's still shaking his monitor and muttering, "come on, work right. No one's that dumb."

  11. W. Ian Blanton  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:08 pm

    The next step, of course, will be to threaten to sue anyone who has read the blogger's site, as they are "participating" in the slander by reading it.

  12. Linus  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:10 pm

    Those letters contain the kind of pearl-clutchy "don't you realize how AWFUL and SMELLY your client is, and how MARVELOUS my client is?" overwrought bullshit lawyer style that I just absolutely despise. Like the other attorney will ever say, "Golly, Mister, thanks! If you had written less passionately, I might have stayed with this case." Self-important pricks.

  13. Gal  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:12 pm

    @C. S. P. Schofield I'd hate to live in Green Bay if that were the case.

    For, er, different reasons than I already have, that is.

  14. Lawson Narse  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:39 pm

    I believe the correct way to reply to Mr Kludge, would be to respectfully refer him to the response in Arkell v Pressdram:

    "We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J. Arkell. We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off."

  15. Kevin S.  •  Jun 26, 2012 @12:45 pm

    Fantastic job working in the A Song of Ice and Fire reference.

    As to the rest?

  16. Brandon  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:06 pm

    Have you been served for criticizing the lawsuit yet, Ken?

  17. egd  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:12 pm

    Can you really have your secretary sign your name to a demand letter "in the absence of author to avoid delay"?

    Since the letter is making a formal request that you waive service of process, does the letter fall within the scope of the Florida fraud statute?

  18. Harry Lime  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:17 pm

    It's "Raanan" Katz I believe, not Ranaan.

  19. StrangeOne  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:18 pm

    Wow. Maybe we can get these lawyers to sue Carreon over something. They'll just keep suing each other for representing themselves against the last round of law suits. Trapped in some grand idiot feedback loop, the rest of society will be sparred from their mendacity.

  20. nrasmuss13  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:27 pm

    "Law Finns"?

    Huh. I had no idea that the whole lawyers = sharks thing was supposed to be taken literally.

  21. Jordan  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:36 pm

    The Randazza Finn?

    Marco has a finn now? Hmmmm. Sharky.

  22. jag  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:39 pm

    Kluger has a rep down here and he's living up to it right now. Probably trying to bully Robert's great two man shop, who I use. It will fail gloriously.

  23. Artor  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:43 pm

    Wow, I thought Carreon was providing some free (for me) entertainment, but this has gone over the top! Does Kluger stand to face any sanctions from his state bar for filing an obviously frivolous lawsuit? What's the reputation of the judge on this case?

  24. HeatherCat  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:46 pm

    I do believe he's in competition to out-Carreon someone else!!

    Finns to the LEFT! Finns to the RIGHT!

  25. Roscoe  •  Jun 26, 2012 @1:59 pm

    Actually I think Katz's conduct makes sense, at least from a Dr. Evil perspective. Katz sues a blogger for libel, not because he has a real case but because the expense of defending the suit is going to make the blogger cry uncle. However this doesn't work because the blogger gets pro bono counsel.

    So now Katz is suing the pro bono counsel. Again this is not because he has a meritorious case, but in the hope that the expense of defending the suit will make counsel withdraw from the representation (or put pressure on blogger to force him to make a deal).

  26. Blue  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:01 pm

    Holy shit, this is MINDBLOWING. This is almost certain a violation of the model rules (not sure where the offending attorney is barred or what that state's rules are, so can't comment on that), but sadly since it violates the squidgey rules and not the sacred monetary ones, I suspect this conduct probably won't be addressed by bar counsel. I'll just have to hope for a vicious benchslap instead.

    That, and applaud Mr. Randazza for his response- completely ignoring this foolishness, reporting it to the court, and asking the court to tell opposing counsel to knock it off is not only utterly professional but about the most blatant "fuck you" to opposing counsel's threats that I can think of under the circumstances.

  27. David  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:01 pm

    After reading the exhibits, neither the Katz types nor Chevaldina (the defendant) exactly come off looking like brain surgeons. The blog posts veer into incoherence, racism and incoherent racism, and Chevaldina follows the Crystal Cox school of registering domains based on every variant of the target's name that she can think of. Meanwhile, Katz's lawyers threaten to sue the opposition for having clients they don't like, and believe the phrase “How RK Associates Ripped Off The Single Mother Of Special Needs Child” somehow constitutes defamation per se. They also seemed to forget halfway through the complaint that the defendant is a woman, and start referring to Chevaldina as “he” and “him.”

    The difference, of course, is that baseless assertions of defamation in a legal proceeding actually cause harm, while incoherent racism just makes you look like an incoherent racist.

  28. Ancel De Lambert  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:06 pm

    As representation is an integral right in the United States… da f**k?

  29. A Nonny Moose  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:27 pm

    I… wow. The letters Katz's lawyers send out sound like bullies in high school hallways, shaking down kids for lunch money but pretending that it's a "service" they're doing– "Hey, pipsqueak– I didn't fucking punch you in the throat this week, so you owe me two dollars!"

    Are these idiots for fucking real? "If you don't waive discovery against us, we're going to sue you on the premise that we think you're a bad person. Now give us your thermos, loser!"

  30. Waldo  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:31 pm

    The motion for a protective order seems rather odd to me. Basically, he's asking the judge to prohibit the other side from threatening him with litigation. Never heard of such a thing and can't believe the judge ha the authority to or will grant that order. But, probably the purpose is just to make the judge aware of the other side's obnoxious behavior in hopes of getting favorable rulings on other matters.

  31. harrison  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:34 pm

    On the plus side, LeBron James has got to be happy that he's no longer the biggest douchebag associated with the Miami Heat.

    (Dear Raanan Katz' lawyers: You seem to not get this whole "defamation" thing, so I will inform you that referring to your client as a "[big] douchebag" is rhetorical hyperbole and not a statement of fact, and is therefore protected.)

  32. delurking  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:45 pm

    harrison:

    (Dear Raanan Katz' lawyers: You seem to not get this whole "defamation" thing, so I will inform you that referring to your client as a "[big] douchebag" is rhetorical hyperbole and not a statement of fact, and is therefore protected, you big douchebags.)

    There, fixed that for you.

  33. TomB  •  Jun 26, 2012 @2:58 pm

    I've been thinking for a few hours that I've seen some of those legal reasonings before, and then it hit me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU3ac1eAzb0

    "My Honor, I think I can clear this up in just three words: 'Da bitch ugly'"

  34. nlp  •  Jun 26, 2012 @3:00 pm

    Of course, I can see this escalating to a new high. Since Randazza and his co-Finn, Kain, will need attorneys to represent them (since a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client) then the next step will be for the new lawyers will file suit against the Katz lawyers for harassment, at which point the Katz lawyers will hire lawyers to represent themselves. . . You know something? If this gets big enough we might find work for all those law school grads who can't find jobs!

    By the way, if anyone can explain what a po sting (paragraph 34) is I'd appreciate it. At first I thought it was a misspelling of a Poe Sting, but that doesn't seem to work in context.

  35. Jordan  •  Jun 26, 2012 @3:33 pm

    This is a call between Katz and his attorney:

  36. perlhaqr  •  Jun 26, 2012 @3:57 pm

    See, I was thinking this meant that Randazza and Kain now needed lawyers, who would then in turn get sued for defending the lawyers who are defending the blogger.

    Recursive lawsuit!

    ——

    Serious question though: If one were Katz's lawyer, and he said "now I want you to threaten to sue the opposing lawyers!", are you legally allowed to tell your client to fuck off because they are being a moron?

  37. TomB  •  Jun 26, 2012 @4:18 pm

    Of course, I can see this escalating to a new high. Since Randazza and his co-Finn, Kain, will need attorneys to represent them (since a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client) then the next step will be…..

    Shorter version: "It's lawyers all the way down."

  38. Ara Ararauna  •  Jun 26, 2012 @5:38 pm

    Looks like it is that time of the year when all Carreonish lawyers gather around full moon during Summer Solstice and start to stir their bubbling cauldrons of sue-toads and salamander tongues. It can't get any more awful, can it?

  39. Sass  •  Jun 26, 2012 @6:37 pm

    My theory: Mr. Kluger has been Katz's attorney for years. The pay has been good, but he has endured years of abuse; he hates himself for it, but can't risk the fallout of firing his client. He can, however, sink him by using the oldest trick in the book: complying EXACTLY with his client's demands, ratcheting up the billable hours as this escalates, and laughing all the way to the bank.

  40. Andrew S.  •  Jun 26, 2012 @7:11 pm

    Dear Mr. Kluger:

    This is by far the dumbest thing I've ever heard a lawyer do. Seriously.

    I expect to receive your lawsuit and/or your Florida Bar complaint against me soon.

    Love,

    Andy.

  41. En Passant  •  Jun 26, 2012 @7:15 pm

    The real trouble is buried in graf #34:

    … the Finns have assisted Chevaldina in continuing to post defamatory materials while disingenuously arguing that these defamatory po stings are protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Under Lawrence v. Texas, taint snortings and po stings are protected only if performed in private. If they're both public and defamatory, a felony enhancement might apply.

  42. Marc  •  Jun 26, 2012 @7:15 pm

    Fletcher: Your honor, I object!
    Judge: Why?
    Fletcher: Because it's devastating to my case!

  43. John David Galt  •  Jun 26, 2012 @7:23 pm

    Has an attorney ever been charged as his client's accomplice before? Would it be possible for such a charge to stick if he actually did know his client was up to no good?

    I sure hope not. If this answer can ever be yes, it will eviscerate that part of the right to representation that wasn't already destroyed when the feds started seizing drug defendants' money before trying them.

  44. Christophe  •  Jun 26, 2012 @7:37 pm

    I believe what we have here is standard Rich Dick Think: "How dare the subjects of my wrath have legal representation!"

  45. SPQR  •  Jun 26, 2012 @8:00 pm

    Yes, Galt, its happened before. Sometimes with justification and sometimes as part of illegitimate intimidation tactics by prosecutors. I think Ken even has a story or two.

    But in a civil case, its rare. There have been times where attorneys got caught in fraudulent work during a case. Outside of those specific cases, its usually silly crap that is rightly laughed at.

  46. BP  •  Jun 26, 2012 @8:50 pm

    Waldo, I think the gist of the protective order motion is to seek an order granting protection from what might reasonably be considered a discovery request, since Marc framed the letter as a request for information that is almost certainly subject to attorney-client privilege. I'm not entirely sure I agree with that interpretation of the letter, but, as you say, it is a good, non-frivolous, and completely defensible method of getting a judge–who has a lot more to deal with than this ridiculous suit–up to date on the background facts. It's not even remotely necessary to win this particular fight, but it's a good move regardless.

    Also, Ken, I'll thank you not to impersonate Ygritte, about whom I still have schoolboy fantasy of meeting in real life (although I'm only about halfway though book 3 and I'm sure the damnable author will ruin it for me). I don't want to associate fiery freewomen with the likes of you.

  47. Matthew Cline  •  Jun 26, 2012 @8:53 pm

    Moreover, Defendants know that Chevaldina has repeatedly testified falsely under oath, yet they have done nothing to correct her lies despite their obligations as officers of the court.

    What, are they demanding that the lawyers make press releases calling their client a liar? Wouldn't that violate a lot of ethical standards?

  48. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon  •  Jun 26, 2012 @8:58 pm

    "SPQR • Jun 26, 2012 @11:31 am

    Hmmm, somehow its got to be possible to create a counter-claim in tort to any such frivolous complaint … I gotta think about this."

    Easy-peasy! Defamation for starters (asserting that they conspired with/assented to the client commiting perjury is well up there!). Intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with contractual relations, yada yada…

    And the defamation is NOT privileged, if AIUI this was just a threatening letter and NOT an actual issued claim. Although I think that Pressdram *would* have answered an actual claim from Arkell in the same manner that they replied to the threat. I hope these two do with the prototypical apochryphal response: 'Dear Sir, Fuck yourself. Strong letter follows from my lawyers.'

    I don't know whether Florida has a SLAPP statute, but the claim if issued, would fit.

  49. Matthew Cline  •  Jun 26, 2012 @9:27 pm

    Easy-peasy! Defamation for starters (asserting that they conspired with/assented to the client commiting perjury is well up there!).

    But that was private correspondence which the recipients then shared with third parties. Can one really sue for defamation in those circumstances?

  50. Steven  •  Jun 26, 2012 @9:33 pm

    Number 35 essentially accuses them of engaging in a conspiracy to obey the law, right? I think that one's my favorite.

  51. Matthew Cline  •  Jun 26, 2012 @11:44 pm

    Number 35 essentially accuses them of engaging in a conspiracy to obey the law, right? I think that one's my favorite.

    If one wanted to be charitable, one could interpret it as accusing the lawyers of advising their client on how to break the spirit of the law while still remaining within the letter of the law.

  52. SPQR  •  Jun 27, 2012 @8:00 am

    Which is our job.

  53. Sarahw  •  Jun 27, 2012 @8:06 am

    In the long run it does not seem to me this serves the client's interests at all. Unless the client is after the sekrit SMT formula, and this is his big chance.

  54. Jon Popehat-Reader  •  Jun 27, 2012 @8:49 am

    Yeah, like I'm going to your blog in a $6000 suit. Come on.

  55. Seebs  •  Jun 28, 2012 @10:13 am

    Oh, wow.

    I thought it was only me. Seriously, I thought suing someone's lawyer for representing them was such an obvious ethics violation that no one would ever do it unless they were deeply insane.

  56. Dario Strehlow  •  Aug 21, 2012 @6:27 pm

    Hitler had Leni Riefenstahl . . . Obama has Spielberg, Hanks, CLOONy, etc. Same spirit. Hacks, servile prostitutes of their talents.