U.S. First Circuit - The FindLaw 1st Circuit Court of Appeals News and Information Blog

No Relief for Attorney Criticized on Ripoff Report

No doubt, Richard Goren is a good attorney.

Apparently, he was too good for the opposing party who criticized him on the Ripoff Report. Goren then sued and obtained a judgment against his accuser.

But the rub came in the subsequent case against the Ripoff Report. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said the company was immune from liability in Small Justice LLC v. Xcentric Ventures LLC.

Communications Decency Act

The Communications Decency Act gives information content providers immunity from liability for various tort claims, including libel, intentional distress, and related claims. That's what Goren sued his blasphemer for.

Actually, he was more lawyerly than that. He first sued for libel and other claims, but got a default judgment for injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that he owned the copyrights to the negative postings.

Then he sued Xcentric Ventures, LLC, which owned the Ripoff Report, to remove the postings. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, however, based on the CDM.

On appeal, Goren argued that the defendant was not an ICP under 47 U.S.C. Section 230 when it authorized search engines to make copies of the postings.

"Broadly Construed"

The First Circuit disagreed. The appeals panel said the statutory immunity should be "broadly construed."

"In fact," the judges said, citing Universal Commc'n Sys., Inc. v. Lycos, Inc., "we noted there that Congress has expressed a 'policy choice' not to deter harmful online speech through the route of imposing tort liability on companies that serve as intermediaries for other parties' potentially injurious messages."

Unfortunately for Goren, the appeals court added insult to injury by affirming a $120,000 fees award against him.

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