In 2013, I dealt with both a lawsuit and an IRS audit. Neither was as bad as you might think, because the facts were on my side with both. And yet, there are plenty of people out there who think that they can bully bloggers just by threatening to sue.
Just as convicted felon Keith Gilabert sued me and lost, so too was Sean Kelly of Unhappy Franchisee sued for libel by Mark Golob, operator of the defunct fitness chain Butterfly Life. Golob sued Kelly for $35,000,000.
Okay, here’s the first clue that a lawsuit is filed to be harassing: the amount of the suit is just comical. Really? If you run a business into the ground and leave people unhappy, it’s really hard to argue that someone with a blog did you millions of dollars of damage simply by telling the truth.
Kelly did what any blogger facing one of these should do: he fought back. Mark Golob of Butterfly Life lost and has been ordered to pay Kelly’s legal fees.
In most states, a lawsuit that is filed simply to scare someone away from exercising their First Amendment rights is known as a SLAAP suit, for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. And in most states, a SLAAP suit is not permitted. Someone who is found to have filed one will be required to pay back the defendant’s legal fees.
Bloggers, the law is on your side.
The First Amendment applies online.