Pittsburgh lawyer Todd Hollis is back in court with a second lawsuit against the dating advice site Don'tDateHimGirl.com, whose users accused him of infidelity and infecting women with herpes. Hollis had previously filed a defamation lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court against the owner of the site back in June 2006. The Florida-based web site and its owner Tasha Joseph were able to have that case dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Acting as his own lawyer, Hollis filed a new complaint in federal court in Miami last week, alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false light invasion of privacy. Hollis told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that
he reluctantly sued again in Miami because Ms. Cunningham refused to remove the numerous lies that her Web site has published about him. "I never wanted to file a lawsuit. I wanted my name cleared," he said yesterday.
Tasha Cunningham, formerly known as Tasha Joseph, launched DontDateHimGirl.com two years ago. The site allows anonymous users to post information and photos of men, often accusing them of infidelity and bad behavior. Cunningham told the Post-Gazette that she would not answer questions about herself or the lawsuit, but gave the paper a written statement:
DontDateHimGirl.com's mission is to empower women with the information and connections that help them make better life decisions. DDHG.com is fully protected [from defamation lawsuits] by the Communication Decency Act. ... Any attack or lawsuit put forth regarding DDHG.com will be dealt with strongly, swiftly and in a manner which will seek to end this type of erroneous, wasteful litigation.
As we've noted in a number of past posts, section 230 of the Communications Decency Act  grants immunity to website operators for these types of claims if the content is created by third-parties.
(Note: The Communications Decent Act governs EOPC as well.)
03/31/2008: Cunningham answered Hollis' complaint and filed a counterclaim against Hollis for defamation. The defamation claim arose from an telecopier document allegedly sent by an organization related to Hollis that stated as fact that Cunningham had been convicted of grand theft by the State of Florida.
04/14/2008: Defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The motion argued that defendants were entitled to summary judgment on several of plaintiff's claims because certain examples of the disputed content were true and certain examples were entitled to protection under CDA 230.
03/2008 through 05/2008: Plaintiff and defendants filed a series of motions disputing discovery issues. These primarily concern defendants' requests for information from plaintiff and plaintiffs requests to depose individuals regarding defendants' reputation.
05/15/2008: Court dismissed Cunningham's counterclaim at Cunningham's request and granted Cunningham's request for protective orders that would prevent plaintiff from deposing certain individuals on the issue of defendants' reputation.
06/20/2008: The case has been dismissed with prejudice by stipulation of both parties. Details of the settlement are not yet available.
(as you can see - be careful about dragging people to court - because things about YOU will come out as well!)