Hampden County Superior Court Judge Jane Mulqueen has issued her ruling on a motion for summary judgement (basically a motion to dismiss) in the matter of Rian Waters vs. Worcester Digital Marketing LLC, and this blogger. If you’re not familiar with this case you can catch up by reading about it here. In short, Rian Waters was featured in a blog in January 2017 after the mother of his child alleged on Facebook that he beat her and killed their dog Luna in front of his special needs child who he has not paid child support for. The blog never outright said that he was guilty of the crimes he was accused of, but he had been arrested and charged. However, after the victim got cold feet and did not testify the charges were dropped. It is noteworthy that the veterinarian who testified at his trial said that she believes the dog died as a result of being kicked by Rian Waters.
In her ruling Judge Mulqueen not only sided with WDM and me in allowing the motion for summary judgement (dismissal), she issued a scathing ruling that picked apart his case and included language that can be used for our defense in other lawsuits. Let it be known to anyone who wants to waste their time and money suing us moving forward – we will fight you and we will win because the law is on our side.
Judge Mulqueen also seems to have gone out of her way to make it clear in her ruling that she believes that Rian Waters killed the dog. She did not have to do this, but she chose to because she, like the veterinarian, Samantha Cardin, and Bristol TC, saw him for the monster that he is. I cannot embed the entire 15 page ruling in this blog because it’s not letting me for some reason, but I have embedded it here on Turtleboy Sports.
Here are some important precedents established by this decision:
- The judge ruled that Turtleboy Sports is a “social media platform.” Being a platform means that TBS cannot be legally responsible for content posted by users, like Manch, Western Mass Turtlegirl, Shell Shocker, or any other blogger who has been given platform access. “CDA 230 also offers its legal shield to bloggers who act as intermediaries by hosting comments on their blogs. Under the law, bloggers are not liable for comments left by readers, the work of guest bloggers, tips sent via email, or information received through RSS feeds. This legal protection can still hold even if a blogger is aware of the objectionable content or makes editorial judgments.” This comes from the protections outlined in CDA Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Being labeled as a platform by a Massachusetts Superior Court Judge makes it nearly impossible for Turtleboy to ever be found guilty of defamation if it’s written by someone like Manch or Western Mass Turtlegirl.
- The bar for libel (defamation) is extremely high, and plaintiffs must prove that Turtleboy’s statements were false, that Turtleboy knew the statements were false but published them anyway, that the statements hurt the plaintiff’s reputation in the community, and that these intentionally false statements directly caused economic harm to the plaintiff. According to the judge nothing in the blogs meets all of those standards, and only “arguably” meets one or more of those standards (that his reputation was harmed, as it should be because when you kill dogs and beat women you don’t deserve a good reputation).
- Fact vs. opinion. Opinions can’t be false, and almost everything we publish is an opinion based on presented facts. When determining what is and isn’t opinion courts must look at the totality of the statements in context, not just snippets of a statement. “The use of “cautionary terms and language relay to readers that the authors were indulging in speculation.” In other words, when a blogger stated that Jennifer Azadnia was “basically a prostitute” in another case, you have to look at the totality of the blog, not just that phrase. And the use of the word “basically” matters because it’s a cautionary term that makes it clear to readers we’re engaging in hyperbolic speech, not literal speech. In this case we speculated that Rian Waters might’ve assaulted Sam Cardin but couldn’t be completely sure, because we used the word “alleged” several times. This is protected speech.
- The veterinarian’s report confirms that Sam Cardin’s allegations were accurate, and thus when Turtleboy reprints these allegations it can’t be defamatory. Let’s say someone accused a company that finds missing flamingos of engaging in fraudulent business activities, and we quoted them in a blog making these allegations. That can’t be defamatory. In this case the judge read through the police report and veterinarian’s report and determined that everything she said was true.
- I cannot personally be sued for content that appears on Turtleboy Sports because Worcester Digital Marketing LLC insulates me from that.
- His “intentional infliction of emotional distress” claims were tossed because our speech doesn’t come close to fitting that legal standard.
I’d like to give a big endorsement for two people here:
- My attorney Kevin Christianopoulos. He has been stellar throughout this whole thing. His rates were more than fair, and he went out of his way not to charge me for things he easily could’ve because he’s a nice guy and an honest attorney. He’s based out of Westfield, and I would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone in the 413 area code who needs legal help. His website is here.
- Judge Mulqueen. This blog has been very critical of judges in this state, but she is one of the good ones. She was appointed last year by Charlie Baker and was recommended by a 6-2 vote of the Governor’s Council. The two dissenters are both radicals (Robert Jubinville and Marilyn Devaney) who didn’t like her stellar record as a prosecutor. People like Jubinville and Devaney want judges who empathize with people like Rian Waters. The amount of time and detail she put into this case to not only exonerate me, but to give some sort of justice to Sam Cardin, was impeccable.
Our legal battle continues with Jennifer Azadnia and the other case which I’ve agreed not to discuss in the blog. Neither case has any merit, but both could be very costly nonetheless. Rian Waters also reserves the right to appeal, which would cost us more money. We couldn’t have beaten all of these cased without financial contributions from turtle riders. In order to continue to beat these cases, fight for free speech, and expose terrible people like Rian Waters, we need money. So if you’d like to contribute feel free to hit the PayPal button below.
Now time for the memes!!