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Public Relations Society of America v. Road Runner High Speed Online

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Citation Edit

Public Relations Society of America v. Road Runner High Speed Online, 8 Misc.3d 820, 799 N.Y.S.2d 847 (Supreme Ct., N.Y. Cty. 2005) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Road Runner, an Internet service provider owned by Time Warner, was ordered to hand over documents that disclosed the identity of a person who sent an allegedly libelous e-mail about his or her company’s executive director to the company’s board.

Road Runner failed to appear at the November 2004 hearing for the motion, and Justice Payne granted the plaintiffs' motion for disclosure.

The company did, however, notify the mystery e-mailer, known in the decision as "John Doe," that his e-mail was the subject of a potential tort action.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

Doe moved to intervene in the proceeding, seeking to vacate the default judgment and block the disclosure of the identifying documents. Doe argued that his identity was protected by the First Amendment. The court held that it was not and ordered the documents produced.

The subject of the e-mail statement is not an expression of "pure opinion." Rather it is a statement of "mixed" opinion because it tends to characterize Bolton as an incompetent professional. There are portions of the e-mail which constitute pure opinion, because the statements are "accompanied by a recitation of the facts upon which it is based. An opinion not accompanied by such a factual recitation may, nevertheless, be "pure opinion" if does not imply that it is based upon undisclosed facts. . . . When, however, the statement of opinion implies that it is based upon facts which justify the opinion but are unknown to those reading or hearing it, it is a "mixed opinion" and is actionable.[1]

References Edit

  1. 8 Misc.3d at 826-27, 799 N.Y.S.2d at 853.

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