Washingtonienne: Sloppy Seconds

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Remember the micro-scandal over Washingtonienne, the Capitol Hill kiss-and-tell sex vendor whose copiously blogged exploits roiled the Beltway last summer? (No? Lucky you.) Well, now there's a little coda, and it's actually more interesting than the former senatorial assistant's inventories of receiving a toaster for anal sex or a pearl necklace for a pearl necklace.

One of her former paramours, an attorney in the office where she worked at the time, is now suing her for infliction of emotional distress. I'd be interested in comments from some of y'all with legal training: Is blogging about your personal life actionable? They guy wasn't a public figure—though he's now ensured that his name will be back in the news—but it seems strange that relating (at least approximately true) stories about your own sex life, however inconsiderate it might be, could be a tort. Isn't that just one of those chances you take when you go to bed with someone?

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  1. I’m no lawyer, but as I’ve learned from being a faculty member at a private college, virtually anything you do in America today is potentially grounds for a lawsuit.

    In fact, Julian, your post reminded me of some unpleasant experiences with the legal system. I could sue you. I probably wouldn’t win, but I could make your life difficult.

    Gotta love the rule of lawyers.

  2. Is a toaster the going rate for anal sex these days?

  3. Sue everybody!

  4. Torts are for tarts, fillies and prigs.

  5. What can I get for an old microwave oven?

  6. I’m a law student, and as I understand it intentional infliction of emotional distress is extremely hard to establish in court–essentially you have to show that the tortfeasor knew or had reason to know that her actions would cause you emotional distress. You also have to show that they did cause you distress, and some jurisdictions even require you to have demonstrable physical symptoms.

    From the linked article, it actually says he’s suing her for invasion of privacy, which is easier to prove. Since he’s not a public figure (think Jerry Falwell or Ralph Nader), and a reasonable person would likely have an expectation of privacy to spankings he receives in his bedroom, he could well have a case.

    More to the point, he’s a lawyer and she’s not. So she has to pay for litigation expenses while he can represent himself.

  7. It’s this sort of topic that Gunnels would have been perfect for. Thoreau, could you channel him here for a paragraph or two.

  8. brian

    What can I get for an old microwave oven?

    I have an idea what you would get for a hand blender. Don’t even ask about the salad shooter.

  9. Isn’t this the very problem with the legal system? The courts have become the modern day siege engine. Writs are nothing more than todays diseased bodies, fire bombs and stones that were once tossed with a trebuchet. Likewise the walls are mere stacks of cash that are depleated with each wave of the assault. It becomes a matter of who can endure the siege longer. Will peace be found in a treaty or will it requre one party to be vanquished completely?

  10. Thoreau, could you channel him here for a paragraph or two.

    *chuckle* Why should I do anything for you? You still haven’t answered my question in another thread. If you don’t know what question I’m referring to then you’re obviously an idiot. Or maybe you’re just a liar and won’t admit that you can’t answer my question.

    Anyway, if I had the time I’d explain this whole thing with a few hundred pages excerpted from various court rulings. And I wouldn’t give links, I’d just past the entire document in here and crash Reason’s servers.

    OK, this is thoreau again. How was that?

  11. Alex-
    Yeah, but if you look at the end of the actual filing, it really goes on about the infliction of emotional distress angle.

  12. that’s kind of scary, thoreau.

    Has anyone ever seen Gary and thoreau in the same room at the same time?

  13. Has anyone ever seen Gary and thoreau in the same room at the same time?

    I sure haven’t! 😉

    To be honest, I can’t blame anybody for wondering. Gary usually went easy on me compared to other posters, and I’m not really sure why. Certainly I’ve made my share of inconsistent statements and factual errors, and I don’t possess the volume knowledge that he would demand from some posters. (“You shouldn’t be posting on this subject when you clearly haven’t read as much about it as I have!”) And God knows I ticked him off plenty with my speculations on his identity issues.

    Yet for some reason he always went easy on me. So I can’t really fault those who think he and I are the same person. The only time he really got on my case was when I chided him for beating up on other people for silly little things (e.g. finding inconsistencies, and then if somebody tries to explain it or correct it he’s changing his story and therefore a liar).

    I have no clue why he never really went after me. He certainly went after everybody else.

  14. The intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action doesn’t have a snowball’s chance. Invasion of privacy? Somewhat more plausible, I guess, but she was privy to the acts (involved in them, in fact) so the guy didn’t exactly have an expectation of privacy with regard to her. It’s the difference between my publishing a letter you send to me and my publishing a letter I stole out of a mailbox between two other people.

  15. thoreau,

    It’s because everyone here loves you. Seriously, who would be enough of an a-hole to pick on thoreau. Dude, you should definitely start your own blog. I’d read it.

  16. So he does. I think he’s padding his claim. The line where he asserts, “Defendant intended to cause Plaintiff to suffer damages,” is a little far fetched. For him to win on this claim, he would likely have to show that she actually intended to cause him emotional distress him by publishing her blog.

    Now of course, whether she intended to harm him is a question for a jury, and you’ll note that earlier on he talks about how she was sleeping with five other men while they were seeing each other. Needless to say, being a jilted lover is not actionable, but if he were able to get a sympathetic jury, who knows.

  17. Alex – I’m a MD lawyer (technically, I’m a D.C. lawyer too, but I avoid that jurisdiction like the plague because, well, it resembles a plague). You are right, it is very difficult to establish this claim in court – it very rarely survives a Motion for Summary Judgment.

    I had a pretty clear-cut case of IIED in an employment case, but in researching that count, decided to throw it out because it is a tremendously disfavored claim in MD. I think I only found 4 cases where it was ever actually awarded. Every other lawyer I spoke with advised me against including it.

    However, I say this with the caveat that D.C. is much more plaintiff friendly than any place this side of California, so maybe it will fly there. Also, I did not bother to read the complaint on the Smoking Gun.

  18. Jeff,

    Is that why you don’t see privacy lawsuits stemming from something like the Paris Hilton sex tape?

  19. OK, this is thoreau again. How was that?

    Pretty close to the genuine article.

  20. “Has anyone ever seen Gary and thoreau in the same room at the same time?”

    Doing what?

  21. Eh, according to her blog, the guy knew she was telling everybody about their spanking games and he kept fucking her anyway. Sounds like he’s just looking for a little more attention. Why should she get to hog it all?

  22. Eh, according to her blog, the guy knew she was telling everybody about their spanking games and he kept fucking her anyway.

    Of course he did.

  23. “…essentially you have to show that the tortfeasor knew…”

    Huhh-uhh..huh..huhh-uh-uhh…he said tortfeasor…Huh-huuhh

  24. Anal sex for a toaster, eh? I wonder what you get for legal representation. Does she call over friends?

  25. The next thing you know, the mayor of Spokane will be suing for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional disorder for law enforcement releasing transcripts of his private chats with an adult to reporters so the whole world could read them. I’m sure that also caused “humiliation and anguish beyond which any reasonable person should be expected to bear in a decent and civilized society.”

  26. Gary usually went easy on me compared to other posters, and I’m not really sure why.

    I think Gary was provoked when someone posted a strong opinion directly in contradiction to Gary’s views. You’re highly reasonable, thoreau, as well as unfailingly civil, so even if you posted some disagreement with Gary, it probably wasn’t pugnacious or directly challening enough to trigger his dander.

    I never really got the Gary treatment either, but that was because I never had the energy (or the time commitment) to go up against him directly.

  27. No lawsuit over the Paris Hilton tapes because she is a media whore…and just a whore.

    All of this stuff varies from state to state, and I am completely talking out of my ass when it comes to anything outside of Texas, but generally, yes– if you know you are being taped, consent to the taping, and do crazy shit despite being taped, then you can’t really come back and bitch about it. Contrast Paris’s tape, which I believe was circulated by the guy who taped (and fucked) her, to the situation with the Pamela/Tommy tape, which was supposedly stolen and distributed with neither participant’s permission. Pamela and Tommy sued, and I think settled with the ditribution company for a portion of the proceeds from the tape. So their dignity was preserved.

    Intentional infliction of emotional distress claims are always hard to prove, and in Texas at least, there is no such thing as negligent infliction of emotional distress (for the very good reason that what emotionally distresses people varies widely). It’s not enough that I kill your dog, even intentionally– I have to know that you really love that damn dog, that killing it is likely to cause you extreme emotional distress, and I have to go about killing it in such a way as to cause that distress in you. And as a practical matter, you have to show yoour distress through actual physical symptoms– no sleep, vomiting, or what have you. Courts in Texas have held some pretty outrageous crap to not be intentional infliction of emotional distress, but it may be different in other jurisdictions.

  28. serafina,

    The mayor is a public figure, so the “expectation of privacy” in anything he does is basically zero.

  29. thoreau,
    I’m another one that never got the Gary treatment. Maybe that grizzled old French marie/youn law student felt bad about his nation blowing off the Sphinx’s nose and took it easy on me (yes, I know that is an urban legend).

  30. thoreau,

    LOL!

  31. Yeah, I realize the mayor’s a public figure, Steve. My sarcastic point was that I think any expectation of privacy that RS had would be just as unreasonable as the mayor after his foxy little paramour started blabbering to all and sundry about their little games. No matter what the law might say, I find his filing suit just as ridiculous as the mayor filing suit would be.

  32. If the lady had been an undercover cop, the guy would have got 30 days in jail and plenty of negative publicity. There’s certainly no general expectation of privacy when paying for sex…

  33. As Gary reminded me time and time again, IANAL, but doesn’t invasion of privacy require that the defendant discover something that plaintiff did not want her to know? I don’t see how publicly exposing what someone knowingly did with or said to you could be considered invasion of privacy.

    Otherwise, why the heck aren’t McGwire, Palmeiro, etc suing Canseco for invasion of privacy?

  34. X

  35. In other words, he obviously had no reason to expect that his activities that night would be kept private from her, so how is she invading his privacy?

  36. can we sue Gary Gunnels for intentional infliction of emotional distress, if he attacked us in this forum?

  37. Hit and Run is not the only forum to have banned Gary Gunnels. A little blog by the name of Say Anything has mandated that Gary say nothing.

    Gary’s familiar writing style:

    Can you show me an example where I have done this? Please show me now or shut up. You can’t prove this. You can’t show it. I have always been quite consistent when it comes to constitutional exegesis. Always! And it pisses me of off that you’d commit yourself to such a fucking lie.

    Either you bring the discourse up a notch or you’re gone.

    Piss off. After your behavior directly above, I don’t give a flying fuck about your petty threats.

    Don’t you miss Gary?

  38. twba-

    Even though he was pompous he frequently made interesting points. My biggest objection was that he’d sometimes stop making good points and fall into this familiar routine:

    Gary: You were wrong there.
    Other poster: Well, that’s not what I mean. What I meant was…
    Gary: Now you’re changing your statement.
    Other poster: No, I’m just saying that…
    Gary: You not only changed your statement, you denied it. You’re wrong, you’re inconsistent, and you’re a liar. I have no use for you.

    If he had cut that out, as well as some of the outrageous name-calling, I think he would have been tolerated.

    Interesting that another moderator banned him as well. Sadly, the bans will probably make him even more insufferable and hence attenuate the signal while amplifying the noise.

  39. I did tolerate Gary. He made this forum more fun for me to read. Gary was exceptionally good at pissing off the right people. I wish he would come back.

  40. Thoreau, since you were so interested in Gary’s various nom de screen antics, I noticed, on at least one other site that Gary visited, recent comments with Gary’s writing style. I have been looking for that pattern at Reason, but have yet to spot him. Don’t you find yourself doing the same?

    I think I used an almost perfect example of Gary’s problem in my earlier post. He is smart enough to defeat an opponent, but stupid enough to continue fighting. He needed a nymphomaniacal French maid or warrior to drag him away from the keyboard and screw his brains out.

    JB: “Gary, you are so sexy when you have just won an all-night argument with bigots. Come to bed.”

    GG: “These bigots with room temperature IQs need to be beaten for at least another hour. They must know that I can’t be defeated by dimwits. I will never lose to a stupid, superstitious deist.”

    JB: “Gary, mon amant, do you love your silly computer more than me?”

    GG: “I’ll be there in a minute. I just have to cut and paste some song lyrics.”

  41. Don’t you miss Gary?

    Um, no.

  42. Dougie Fletch,

    Show me where I wrote that. Use the search function on the sidebar, you moron. Your mother smells of elderberries.

    Whoa, I was just in telepathic communion with the Gunnels. It won’t happen again. I’m adding another layer of tinfoil to the cranial prophylactic.

  43. Jeff,

    “So their dignity was preserved.”

    You realize we’re talking about the drummer from Motley Crue and the chick from “Barb Wire,” right?

  44. He doesn’t have a case.

    Then again, he isn’t after one.

    He just wants more airplay of his proclivities so he can attract a few more naughty little strumpets his way. Maybe a book/tv movie deal. Or his own blog. Something not 9-to-5.

    And she needs the attention back on her flagging little irrele-blog, else its back to the real world for her too.

    He’s probably found some roundabout way to subsidize her legal costs, so nobody’s out anything, and everybody gains.

    Damn … if i’m nailing shit like this right off the top of my head, i’ve been in DC waaaaay too long.

  45. Come on folks, we’ve got a vixen doling out anal sex for a toaster here, and y’all are fixated on Gary Gunnels/Jean Bart/Merovingian.

    Actually, my favorite GG/JB/M moment was when he claimed that his atheism was the subject of extreme prejudice and taunting, so much so that he might have to leave Alabama/Connecticut/wherever he claimed to live and return to France/the Foreign Legion/Fire Island/wherever he claimed to be from. I guess it never occurred to him that maybe people found him to be objectionable because, although well read, he’s an insuferrable ass who sucks up all the air in the room, bullies and berates people’s intelligence, etc. This discussion will no doubt show up on GG’s search engine.

  46. Gary was a smart guy. But his style did not do justice to his substance.

    You know, barring the collapse of high-energy civilization, the WWW will probably survive in some form forever. Ten thousand years from now, archaeogoogologists will be able to search the caches of the Galaxy Wide Web for “Gary Gunnels” and still find fragments of his writings — and comments on his writings made by others. His works and fame shall outlive those of Ozymandias and Tut.

  47. Twba-

    Yeah, I find myself looking for his style to reappear on this forum. Now and then something makes me wonder if he’s back with another alias and some sedatives, but I won’t say anything more than that.

    On this other forum where you spotted his same style: I suggest you say something about the Civil War, the 20th Maine, and Little Round Top. See what happens.

  48. Is a toaster the going rate for anal sex these days?

    That’s pretty stingy of her client. I’d say anal sex merits at least a toaster oven . (How’s that for a WWW legacy? Take that, Tut and Ozymandias.)

    Don’t you miss Gary?

    Yes!! Count me in as one of the people whom he never derided. He seemed to like me just fine, and even when I said something deemed incorrect by him, he never made a (direct) outburst at me. He was actually rather polite in refuting me, from what I recall. Even when I disagreed with him on the Terri Schiavo thing. And although I can see how people on the receiving end of his tirades hated him, I can’t say that I didn’t find it at least somewhat amusing to see him ranting at complete strangers on H&R.

    GG: “I’ll be there in a minute. I just have to cut and paste some song lyrics.”

    Twba, you crack me up!!

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