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