More on lawsuits against seemingly fake defendants, aimed at hiding online criticism


Paul Alan Levy, who cowrote our post on dozens of suspicious court cases, with missing defendants, aiming at getting web pages taken down or deindexed, has been investigating the matter further, by intervening in a federal district court case that fit this pattern. (He is representing Myvesta, the company whose criticisms the lawsuit was aimed at deindexing.) And he has developments:

Last week, I appeared before Chief Judge William Smith, who, in addition to granting the blogger's motion for leave to intervene, expressed chagrin at having been duped into signing the "consent order" and raised the possibility that the filing of forged papers violated various criminal statutes; he indicated that he was going to ask the United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island to investigate….

The check [for the filing fee for the case] was from RIR1984 LLC, the very company with which Rescue One Financial had contracted for services to get Steve Rhode's critical web pages removed from search engine indexes. The individual signer for RIR1984 on the contract is Richart Ruddie, who, as Eugene Volokh and I reported last month, is apparently responsible for dozens of fake lawsuits around the country. And the go-between was "Annuity Sold," a company with which Richart Ruddie himself has self-identified….

Consequently, we have moved both to vacate the order, and to dismiss the complaint. Because the Rhode Island anti-SLAPP statute provides for awards of not only attorney fees but also compensatory and punitive damages if the lawsuit aimed at protected speech was "frivolous or were brought with an intent to harass the party or otherwise inhibit the party's exercise of its right to petition or free speech," we intend to argue that not only Ruddie and his company, but the debt relief company for whom Ruddie was serving as an agent in getting pages taken out of the Google search index, bear legal responsibility for [the] attorney fees and damages….