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Must AutoAdmit Case Admit Defeat?

Have the two anonymous female Yale law students who are suing the law school admissions forum AutoAdmit reached a dead end? The women claim in their lawsuit that anonymous postings on the site threatened and demeaned them and interfered with their careers. (Previous Legal Blog Watch postings here and here.) But reports yesterday at ars technica and Slashdot suggest the pair may never be able to identify the source of the attacks. The two reports follow a motion for expedited discovery the plaintiffs filed in the case last week. It details their unsuccessful efforts to identify the John Doe defendants, which include attempts to track them through Highbeam Research, Microsoft's Hotmail, ISP GoDaddy, Yale Law School and others. Ars technica sums up the results:

"But it was all to no avail. The responses fell into two categories: 1) you need a court order before we'll tell you anything, and 2) we don't keep those logs or don't keep them for that long. Lawyer Steve Mitra admitted to the court that he had struck out so far in unearthing any of the anonymous posters. He even resorted to posting several messages on 'requesting that defendants come forward for the purpose of being served with the complaint and conducting a meet and confer.' Shockingly, there were no responses."

Last week's motion seeks enforcement of subpoenas against a number of entities. But with most of the entities saying they either do not maintain log data or delete it within 90 days, the motion may be too late. "While the comments against the women might not be legally protected," ars technica says, "those who made them could find that legal liability doesn't matter once digital fingerprints have been swept up and dumped in the trash."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 28, 2008 at 05:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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