|Paul Alan Levy|
I'm sure you did not see that one coming.
Let's look at a few cases where Public Citizen did, in fact, represent a defamation defendant at the trial-court level:
(1) Houlihan Smith and Company, Inc., et al v. Julia Forte, et al
Public Citizen's own Web site makes it clear the organization represented defendant Julia Forte at the trial level in this defamation case. Here is a description of the case:
Houlihan Smith and Company, an investment bank based in Chicago, filed suit against Julia Forte over two message boards -- 800Notes.com and whocallsme.com -- where members of the public had posted statements criticizing Houlihan's telemarketing practices as well as other aspects of Houlihan's business. On less than 90 minutes notice to Forte, a North Carolina resident, Houlihan went to state court in Illinois and got a temporary restraining order compelling Forte to remove "all statements of a factual nature" about Houlihan and to prevent future postings by those who had posted such statements. Representing Forte, Public Citizen removed the case to federal court and opposes continuation of the TRO. We argue that the TRO is an impermissible prior restraint, especially in Illinois which does not allow injunctions against libel, and that in any event Forte, as the host of a message board, is immune from liability under 47 U.S.C. § 230. Although Houlihan has tried to evade section 230 immunity by relabeling its defamation claims under the trademark laws as well as the right of publicity, such relabeling does not defeat Forte's statutory immunity. Forte moved for an award of attorney fees. In response to the motion, Houlihan Smith claimed that it had been driven out of business by their failure to obtain a preliminary injunction, that the plaintiffs were no longer operating companies, and that they lacked assets to pay any fee award. The fee motion was settled for a payment of $35,000 in attorney fees.
This case involved several issues that were present in my case at the trial level -- an unlawful TRO and an impermissible prior restraint. It also indicates Public Citizen made $35,000 in attorney fees, while Levy claimed I was looking for "free legal help." The Houlihan case suggests Levy lied to me about the reasons for not taking my case -- and it suggests Public Citizen does not do "free legal help," and I never asked for such help, in the first place.
(2) Mitul R. Patel v. Matthew Chan
Public Citizen's own blog, in a piece written by Levy himself. indicates Levy lied to me about the organization's policy regarding defamation cases at trial level:
At a time when the California Supreme Court is deciding whether to grant discretionary review of the decision of the California Court of Appeal in Hassell v. Bird, which held that Yelp could be required to comply with a default judgment holding that a posted review of a California lawyer was false and defamatory, along comes a situation that crystallizes concerns about judicial willingness to impose such orders on sites that host consumer content.
Matthew Chan, a resident of Columbus, Georgia, posted a series of reviews (for example, on Yelp) complaining that Mitul Patel, a dentist in Suwanee, Georgia, had induced Chan to visit his office by advertising an inexpensive dental cleaning deal. However, Chan reported that he was confronted with a hard pitch for additional, more expensive services, and Patel allegedly lost interest in providing the cleaning when Chan was not agreeable to buying additional services. I am in no position to say whether Chan’s criticisms of Patel are fair or accurate, but Patel’s sneaky response to the criticism, instead of just suing his detractor in the Georgia courts, tends to suggest that Chan might well have reason to complain.
This clearly was a defamation case, at the trial level -- the kind Levy told me Public Citizen could not handle. But he represented Defendant Chan. Levy lied about why he could not represent me.
Update on 6/16/17 --
Matthew Chan has contacted us re: a few corrections/clarifications:
(1) The official case name is Matul R. Patel v. Mathew Chan. The court has misspelled Chan's first name, but it is spelled correctly in our post. The other party's name also is misspelled. His correct first name is Mitul.
(2) The case is being heard in Baltimore, Maryland, even though both parties are from Georgia.
(3) Neither Paul Levy nor Public Citizen have represented Chan; he is acting pro se. Writes Chan: "Paul has been supportive in writing about the case and uncovering the larger scam. He has done a lot of good detective work."
(4) Chan says his case is connected to the Profile Defenders "reputation management" company and CEO Richart Ruddie, which we covered in this report. Writes Chan: "The story snippet you quote about Paul Levy was a very early story when none of us knew what the heck was going on, that Richart Ruddie/Profile Defenders was involved. We only learned later that Patel did NOT file the lawsuit. We found out that Patel signed an agreement with Richart Ruddie/Profile Defenders to do this kind of shady stuff. Patel claims he didn't know what was going on, but we have a copy of an email where Patel emailed Yelp a request (attached with a fraudulently-obtained court order) to take down my Yelp review."
(3) Vision Media v. Forte
Again, Public Citizen's own Web site makes clear that it represents defamation defendants at the trial stage. A description of the case:
Vision Media, a company that produces television promotions for non-profit groups, sued Julia Forte, the proprietor of the web site www.800notes.com, after she refused to identify the authors of postings that cited published reports accusing Vision Media of deceptive advertising, and told Vision Media it could respond on the message board but refused to remove the postings. Public Citizen argued that a web host like Forte is immune from suit for the content that others have posted on her site, and that Vision Media's creative efforts to plead around her immunity so that she has to bear litigation expenses (creating pressure to settle) are not successful. The trial court eventually dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Again, Public Citizen successfully represented a defamation defendant at trial stage. Why did Paul Alan Levy spew b.s. in my direction? I can come to only one conclusion: Levy is a lying lawyer who lies.
Now, I can imagine one defense Levy might try to cite for himself. Here is exactly the language he used, via e-mail, on this issue: "We don’t handle defamation cases on the merits at the trial court level."
Perhaps Levy is saying his organization can handle defamation cases, such as the ones noted above, that can be handled on procedural issues, without having to dive into the merits of the case. Well, my case could have been handled on procedural matters, too. As in Houlihan above, my case involved a TRO (and preliminary injunction) that was an impermissible prior restraint. The issues are virtually identical, but Public Citizen took one and passed on the other, which involved far more egregious behavior by plaintiffs -- and damages to the defendant (my wife, Carol, and me).
On top of that, by the time I contacted Levy, Judge Claud Neilson had issued a bogus final order, so the case was ripe for appeal -- and Levy seemed to be saying that his outfit could handle such matters. (Come to think of it, what is the justification for supposedly not being able to handle a defamation case on the merits at the trial level? I assume Public Citizen gets a percentage of any recovery, or seeks awards of attorney fees, so I'm not sure why it would avoid trial-level cases on the merits.)
Bottom line: I'm cutting Levy more slack than he deserves. He did lie to me, and as to why, I think I nailed it with this, via e-mail:
Here's the truth: You jump on easy cases involving Yelp and such, but if lawyers are behind abuse of free speech, you have no interest in the case and essentially engage in a cover up. Corrupt lawyers like Rob Riley and Christina Crow caused me to be incarcerated, and you are their protector -- screw the First Amendment. You and Public Citizen are dishonest to the core -- and I see you still are a rude, thoughtless twit.