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  • Posts by Joseph Meadows
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    Joe Meadows is a shareholder at Bean, Kinney & Korman. He is an experienced trial attorney, focusing on complex civil litigation, internet defamation/disparagement and cyber-attack matters. Joe is also known for his extensive ...

COVID-19 Economic Relief Investigations: They Will Expose Some Businesses to Civil Liability

The initial rounds of COVID-19 economic relief have largely been depleted. More rounds of relief are expected soon. Further out, there will be investigations and follow-on civil (and criminal) proceedings surrounding this largest-ever economic stimulus package in U.S. history, with almost $350 billion going to small businesses.

June 6, 2019
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Joe Meadows, Kurtis Minder and Nikolay Danev
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Topics Litigation
Facial Recognition: Security Tool or Threat Vector?

Security systems have evolved quite a bit since the first locks and keys dating back to 4000 BC. These days it’s keycards, secret passwords, fingerprint logins, and two-factor authentication.

Enter facial recognition as the latest, cutting-edge technology in the security game. Like fingerprint logins, facial recognition can be used to access electronic security systems.

Win for Online Speech Sustained: U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Hassell v. Yelp

Back in July, we provided our five takeaways from the California Supreme Court’s decision in Hassell v. Bird that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (“Section 230”), which confers defamation immunity upon internet sites that “publish” content of another, protected Yelp from a take-down order directing it to remove defamatory content. After the decision, Hassell asked the nation’s highest Court to hear the case. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to do so, leaving lower courts free to determine the scope of Section 230 immunity in connection with take-down orders.

Negative online reviews, social media trolls, defamation claims, non-disparagement agreements - these topics and other legal and PR related concerns were discussed at our first Internet Defamation briefing.

Internet Defamation Guide - 10 Questions to Spot or Avoid Online Defamation

As internet speech grows, so do internet defamation cases. It is easier today to ruin names, brands, and reputations with online negative statements. Yet it is also easier today to raise issues and advocate change before a widespread audience connected by the internet. 

These 10 questions should help an online company spot or a blogger avoid online defamation.

1. Is the statement defamatory in character?

A defamatory statement (written, oral, or visual) hurts another’s reputation. Accusations that another committed a crime or engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct are per se defamatory, which can lead to automatic damages. An embarrassing or annoying statement is not defamatory.

Freedom of Speech or Freedom from Defamation? - 5 Takeaways from Yelp’s Recent Court Victory

Earlier this month, California’s highest court ruled that Yelp did not have to remove defamatory posts despite having been ordered to do so.  In the plurality opinion, the California Supreme Court held in Hassell v. Bird that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (“CDA”) immunized Yelp from the “take-down” order.1

The Hassell case started with lawyer Dawn Hassell suing ex-client Ava Bird for defamation. Bird--using a pseudonym, but otherwise giving away her identity--had posted negative comments about Hassell’s legal service on Yelp. Bird did not defend against the suit and Hassell obtained a default judgment. That judgment included language requiring Yelp, who was not named as a party in the suit, to remove the negative posts. At the trial and intermediate-appellate courts, Yelp unsuccessfully sought to set aside the take-down order on the grounds that Yelp was denied due process and immunity protections under Section 230 of the CDA. For Yelp, third time was the charm: on appeal to the highest court in California, and re-asserting the same arguments as those raised in the lower courts, Yelp succeeded in setting aside the take-down order.