Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Internet Law
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In 2017, Freydin, a Chicago lawyer, posed a question on Facebook: “Did Trump put Ukraine on the travel ban list?! We just cannot find a cleaning lady!” After receiving online criticism for the comment, Freydin doubled down. People angered by Freydin’s comments went to his law firm’s Facebook, Yelp, and Google pages and left reviews that expressed their negative views of Freydin. Various defendants made comments including: An “embarrassment and a disgrace to the US judicial system,” “unethical and derogatory,” “hypocrite,” “chauvinist,” “racist,” “no right to practice law,” “not professional,” “discriminates [against] other nationalities,” do not “waste your money.,” “Freydin is biased and unprofessional attorney,” “terrible experience,” “awful customer service,” “disrespect[],” and “unprofessional[ism].” None of the defendants had previously used Freydin’s legal services.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Freydin’s suit, which alleged libel per se, “false light,” tortious interference with contractual relationships, tortious interference with prospective business relationships, and civil conspiracy. None of the reviews contained statements that are actionable as libel per se under Illinois law; each was an expression of opinion that could not support a libel claim. Freyding did not link the civil conspiracy claims to an independently viable tort claim. View "Law Offices of David Freyd v. Chamara" on Justia Law

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Lightspeed operates online pornography sites and sued a defendant, identified only Internet Protocol address, which was allegedly associated with unlawful viewing of Lightspeed’s content, using a “hacked” password. Lightspeed identified 6,600 others (by IP addresses only) as “co‐conspirators” in a scheme to steal passwords and content. Lightspeed, acting ex parte, served subpoenas on the ISPs (then non‐parties) for the personally identifiable information of each alleged coconspirator, none of whom had been joined as parties. The ISPs moved to quash and for a protective order. The Illinois Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the ISPs. Lightspeed amended its complaint to name as co‐conspirator parties the ISPs and unidentified “corporate representatives,” alleging negligence, violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030 and 1030(g), and deceptive practices. Lightspeed issued new subpoenas seeking the personally identifiable information. The ISPs removed the case to federal court. The district judge denied an emergency motion to obtain the identification information. After several “changes” with respect to Lightspeed’s lawyers, the court stated that they “demonstrated willingness to deceive … about their operations, relationships, and financial interests have varied from feigned ignorance to misstatements to outright lies … calculated so that the Court would grant early‐discovery requests, thereby allowing [them] to identify defendants and exact settlement proceeds.” After granting Lightspeed’s motion for voluntary dismissal, the court granted attorney’s fees under 28 U.S.C. 1927, stating that the litigation “smacked of bullying pretense.” Failing to pay, the lawyers were found to be in civil contempt and ordered to pay 10% of the original sanctions award to cover costs for the contempt litigation. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.View "Duffy v. Smith" on Justia Law

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This post-trial opinion determined the voting membership of GnB, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. The parties disputed whether Firehouse Gallery, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, was a voting member of GnB. The parties also disputed whether GnB possessed an exclusive license to use the first-tier, generic domain name candles.com; held an option to purchase candles.com; and owned other assorted domain names relating to the candles business. The court held that Firehouse and plaintiff, who controlled GnB, each held a 50% voting membership interest; GnB owned the exclusive license and option to purchase candles.com and the other domain names; and plaintiff and defendant, the current principal of Firehouse, each breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty to GnB and must account for the profits and personal benefits they received. The court held that defendant was not otherwise liable to GnB or plaintiff. Because all of the litigants engaged in misconduct that could support fee-shifting, the doctrine of unclean hands applied with particular salience. Accordingly, the court held that all parties would bear their own fees and costs. View "Phillips v. Hove, et al." on Justia Law