Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Chapter IX: Charles Carreon Dismisses His Lawsuit
[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's big day in court is collected under this tag.]
On July 3, 2012, just short of 4 P.M., Charles Carreon filed a notice of dismissal of his lawsuit against Matt Inman, IndieGoGo, the American Cancer Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and (as a party to be joined "if feasible") the Attorney General of California. As drafted, the notice dismisses all parties, including Does.
Some initial thoughts:
1. Mr. Carreon can dismiss the case without leave of court because no party has yet answered.
2. Dismissal is, without court intervention, without prejudice, meaning that Mr. Carreon could re-file if he wanted. Will he? Who knows.
3. Based on some quick research, it appears to me that Mr. Carreon's voluntary dismissal of the action does not preclude Mr. Inman from seeking attorney fees and costs under the Lanham Act. Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 394–95 (1990). That doesn't mean that Mr. Inman will, or should, seek fees, for practical reasons too lengthy to discuss in this post. [Edited to add: behold the dangers of "quick research" -- a kind term for "talking out of your ass" or, more popularly, "blogging." This is probably wrong, for reasons I may address in another post. But I leave it up as an example of ass-dampery.]
4. Mr. Carreon could walk away from this particular set of opponents. But somehow I doubt he will. I predict that he will crow that he achieved a victory by "forcing" Mr. Inman and IndieGoGo to handle the charitable contributions differently than they otherwise would have. And I suspect he will continue threatening and suing others. Time will tell.
Edited to add: here's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's statement.
Second, Bizarre Update: Just got a message from a twitter account in the name of Jonathan Lee Riches — who, as Adam Steinbaugh points out, is a vexatious serial litigant who is either crazy or some sort of performance artist. He filed two frivolous motions to intervene in Carreon's case in NDCA.
The purported Jonathan Lee Riches Twitter account said "@Popehat @oatmeal carreon dropped his lawsuit because inman is suing him in another case , # 4:12-cv-00490-rcc , district of arizona tuscon." I checked the Arizona docket and there is, indeed, a pro se lawsuit filed in the name of Matt Inman, using the bizarre and farcical style of Riches. Whether this is actually Riches or someone else doing it for the lulz is unclear.
However, whoever did it, I submit they've crossed a line they may regret. Filing a frivolous and farcical lawsuit as performance art in your own name is one thing. Filing it falsely under someone else's name is a false statement to the courts. It is very arguably a federal felony under 18 U.S.C. section 1001. I often write here about abuse of 18 U.S.C. section 1001 by the government, but I'm going to have to chew over whether or not this ought to be charged as a crime or not.
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