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Letter to the Editor: Online defamation headline inaccurate

To the editor,

I am general counsel to Xcentric Ventures, LLC which operates the website I recently had a chance to review the case summary/analysis you posted regarding the 7th Circuit’s decision in Blockowicz v. Williams.

I know the Blockowicz case has received a lot of attention, and rightly so. I also know that many have criticized Ripoff Report’s position in the case. Of course, as long as the public is provided true and accurate facts about the case, everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the issue – positive or negative.

In that regard, I wanted to let you know that I believe the headline to your article – “No remedy for online defamation” is misleading if not entirely wrong as a matter of fact. Specifically, if you review the actual judgment/injunction obtained by the Blockowicz family, you will see that they were NOT defamed without any remedy as your article suggests.

Rather, the plaintiffs requested two distinct remedies: 1) money damages, and 2) injunctive relief. Contrary to your article’s title, they received both of these remedies.

The court granted them the first remedy and awarded the entire amount of damages they requested – $20,000. But that’s not all.

The court also awarded them injunctive relief against the party-defendants, and as the 7th Circuit’s order plainly states, the Blockowiczs “likely could have pursued a contempt charge against the defendants for their failure to comply with the injunction. This avenue for relief may still be available.”

In short, the Blockowiczs were NOT defamed without any remedy. Rather, they received a judgment awarding them substantial money damages and they received an injunction which is fully enforceable against the two defendant/authors (but which the Blockowiczs have made no effort to enforce). The only “remedy” they were denied was an order finding that Xcentric (as a non-party) was bound by the injunction they obtained. This ruling is not novel in any way as many courts have consistently held that judgments cannot be made “binding against the world”; they can only bind parties and those who fall within the scope of Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d).

The case summary you posted does not mention either of these important facts and to the extent the title expressly states that the Blockowiczs were provided no remedy at all, I think this is inaccurate and misleading.

Of course and having said this, it is fair to question whether the remedies given were adequate. After all, the defendants are possibly judgment-proof so the money damages portion of the judgment may be impossible to collect. However, the fact that a defendant/debtor may be insolvent is an unfortunate possibility in every case, yet this has never been found to be a proper basis to broadly expand the rights of the plaintiff/judgment creditor to affect third parties who have never had their day in court.

In closing, please note that as a person who does a lot of writing myself, I do not makes these comments lightly, nor do I mean to criticize the views expressed in your write-up which I understand was intended to be a neutral explanation of the Blockowicz decision. At the same time, I do not think the public discussion of this case is benefited by providing a misleading or incomplete explanation of the facts. For that reason only, I wanted to bring the above facts to your attention so that you may give them as much or as little consideration as you feel is appropriate.

David Gingras, Esq.
General Counsel
Xcentric Ventures, LLC

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