Thursday, May 22, 2014

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Great post but is it news?

"Mussolini also portrayed himself as a valiant sportsman, a skilled musician and a philosopher and political theoretician, as the principles of the doctrine of Fascism were laid down in an article by philosopher Giovanni Gentile and Mussolini himself...

All teachers in schools and universities had to swear an oath to defend the fascist regime. Newspaper editors were all personally chosen by Mussolini and no one who did not possess a certificate of approval from the fascist party could practice journalism. These certificates were issued in secret; Mussolini thus skillfully created the illusion of a "free press". The trade unions were also deprived of any independence and were integrated into what was called the "corporative" system. The aim (never completely achieved), inspired by medieval guilds, was to place all Italians in various professional organizations or corporations, all under clandestine governmental control.

Large sums of money were spent on highly visible public works and on international prestige projects such as the Blue Riband ocean liner SS Rex or aeronautical records such as the world's fastest seaplane the Macchi M.C.72 and the transatlantic flying boat cruise of Italo Balbo, which was greeted with much fanfare in the United States when it landed in Chicago in 1933."

Just say No to Riggy and the Newport Bosses this November.

5/22/2014 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous xyn bohemia said...

cleansing interrupted? ya know-- we can't pick and choose the laws that should and should not be enforced. privacy and discrimination are big ones. i have a bunch of a-hole neighbors i would like gone.... but there's nothing i can do about that. if there are issues with group homes or individuals breaking laws, they must be handled individually and legally. $10,000.00 to help newport beach??!! do you know how many MILLIONS newport has spent on this? geez people get a grip and do some actual research before getting out the torches and parading through the village.... and stop using newport upper elite and supporters as "bastions of goodness and love and unicorns" they are not good, they don't care---- unless there's some money in it for them....

5/22/2014 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It would be nice if those women and official gave you these letters (with identifying info blacked out) for you to publish on your blog to out these rehab a**holes so we can be better informed about how to avoid being muzzled by fascist lawsuits. Eh, Geoff?

5/22/2014 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I was involved in a case years ago where a real estate syndicator actually filed an action seeking millions of dollars in damages from middle income investors who were complaining about their investments. The purpose of course was to silence the protestors who the company assumed couldn’t afford to pay attorney fees to defend the case.

As it turned out the investors had comprehensive homeowners’ insurance policies which covered this type of claim. The real estate syndicator ended up paying thousands of dollars in attorney fees, court costs and damages.

5/22/2014 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous And So It Goes said...

Smarter people would know that there are laws to protect people against completely unwarranted and baseless lawsuits which threaten, bully, and intimidate people who have had no involvement whatsoever in a given case. I certainly hope any “high ranking City appointee” who may be involved in suggesting to whom said letters should be served has income and deep pockets as he may soon find himself involved in his own lawsuit (again).

5/22/2014 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

The high ranking city official certainly has a lot of spare time on his hands, doesn't he?
He posts everywhere on social media.
I thought he had a job.

5/22/2014 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Guessing it could be an appointed city official who bloviates on on a regular basis.

5/22/2014 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

New signs on Streets Entering the City:

Welcome to Costa Mesa
You Will Probably Be in Litigation Shortly
-Mayor Benito Riggy

5/22/2014 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

The Westside Next Door site is so much duller.

5/22/2014 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

The Mesa Verde NextDoor site has requested a moratorium on politics.

5/22/2014 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Jealousy will get you everywhere, Gericault!

5/22/2014 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

In the context of several recent events in Costa Mesa, Arthur Nern's comments are chilling. I don't think that 's an overstatement - the degree of intimidation and control may be mild compared to the repression of Mussolini, but it is real and innappropriate none the less.

Remember a few years ago when Eric Beaver threatened to trail public comments to the end of the meetings? It was agendized, hearing held, public spoke, and Eric decided to pull his proposal. Even Eric Beaver as mayor had a little respect for the public compared to the current regime.

5/23/2014 11:20:00 PM  

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