Gossip Blog 'TheDirty.com' Hit With $11 Million Defamation Judgment
A story today involving a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader shows the significant hot water bloggers can get into if they ignore the law. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman ordered a gossip blog called TheDirty.com to pay cheerleader Sarah Jones $11 million for
libel and defamation resulting from allegedly false accusations that Jones had sex with Bengal
football players and had two venereal diseases. TheDirty.com failed to respond to the lawsuit that was filed in February, leading to the court's order which included $10 million in punitive damages.
Cincinnati.com reports that Jones, who also works as a high school teacher, filed the lawsuit after the site refused
her repeated requests to take down the posts. TheDirty.com is a popular website operated by Hooman Karamian, who writes under the name “Nik
Ritchie.” It also received publicity recently after it was discovered that Dan Quayle's son, Ben Quayle, now a candidate for Congress in Arizona, at one time wrote posts for the site.
In her lawsuit, Jones laid out the havoc caused by TheDirty.com's posts about her. Among other things, she says:
- she had to
face fellow teachers and cheerleaders after the post was published and
explain that it wasn’t true;
- her cheerleader job was jeopardized because cheerleaders are excused from the squad if they fraternize with
- she had to call the fiancee' of the Bengals' player she allegedly had sex with to reassure her there was no affair;
- her work e-mail was flooded with crude e-mails
from random people who saw the posts; and
- the principal of her school reviewed security camera footage after one
post alleged she was having sex in her classroom.
Jones' lawyer was hopeful that Jones would be able to collect on the judgment, according to Cincinnati.com. He said the "the site is operated by a limited liability
cooperation that 'apparently is doing pretty well' and is backed by investors who he will
attempt to expose.
UPDATE: Politico reports that a clerical mistake by the plaintiff's lawyers could nullify the judgment:
But U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelsman on Wednesday ordered Los Angeles-based Dirty World Entertainment Recordings — which the complaint and judgment said operates TheDirt.com — to pay $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages for failing to respond to the suit.
Sarah Jones's attorneys had actually intended to sue Scottsdale-based Dirty World LLC, which runs the TheDirty.com.
Posted by Bruce Carton on August 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink
| Comments (4)