Lawsuit Threatened For Rehab Home Comments
According to several sources on Wednesday, a group of Costa Mesa women who have been actively opposing the proliferation of rehabilitation homes in their Eastside neighborhoods have been served with notices from high-powered law firm, Rutan and Tucker, demanding that they cease making comments about their clients - a local real estate agent, his firm and another company and individual - on Internet comment threads.
LOCAL SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS
Apparently this springs from a recent posting of addresses and ownership details of presumed rehab homes gleaned from public records searches that list the real estate agent and associates as owners of the properties and the subsequent comment thread on that issue, PLUS a semi-related recent comment thread on a Daily Pilot story about Rehab homes.
DO IT!... OR ELSE!
The law firm demands that the women, among other things, write a formal apology to their clients and post corrective language on the threads involved or they will be sued for defamation, libel and slander. Several of the recipients have told me they will be consulting with attorneys today on this issue.
CITY APPOINTEE INVOLVED
Even more disturbing is the fact that a high-ranking city appointee has apparently been involved in this issue - posting his own comments on at least one of the threads and recently taking personal, aggressive action with some of the women involved. One curious element of this story is that one of the women who received the papers is not a participant on either of the comment threads in question - but she has had differences of opinion on a variety of issues with the appointed official I mentioned. It makes one wonder what is actually behind this legal action, at least in her case.
We presume that the law firm is quite serious about this situation and that it is not just a SLAPP suit. In either case, it will certainly put a chill on community activism and may be another attempt to silence critics in this city. I have no idea what kind of advice these women will get from their own law firms, but I suppose we may hear about it eventually.
YES, AND NO...
Yes, I say "women" because no men have been reported as receiving the letters. Yes, I know the names of some of them. Yes, I know the name of the appointed official. No, I'm not going to share that information right now.