Lomax v. WikiMedia Foundation, Inc. et al
Some points. Vigilant is, if I recall correctly, the user who was accusing a Wikipedia user of being a pedophile, insistently and without adequate evidence. He’s remained very active with an image of himself as “Witchsmeller pursuivant.” Charming. His constant theme years ago, was that I would write tomes. Anti-intellectuals and people who can’t scan-read hate long posts. Most normal people skip them if not interested. Vigilant would quote the entire post with, then “tl;dr” at the end. Funguy.
He claims that downloading one of my filings would bankrupt him. The fact is that PACER charges 10 cents per page with $3 max per document. If that would bankrupt him, he really should get a life and do something more useful than hanging out at the WPO Bar and Grill. This is the snark that has largely taken over wikis. Facts don’t matter, evidence doesn’t matter, only looking smart and winning matters.
Midsize Jake gets it more or less right, except that in Rossi v. Darden, I was supported by the public because of strong evidence in that case, including paying my expenses to attend the trial. That was fun. It is not every day that I get to hang out with and greet a billionaire (though in the cold fusion field, it’s not that uncommon, nor a famous inventor/fraud. Nice guy, just got a little reality problem. I’ve seen much worse. In fact I would prefer his company any day to most of the wikidiots. Being banned on the WMF, from that perspective, was quite a relief. I no longer had to deal with what was rapidly becoming, through the natural filtering of burnout, far too dense with really not-nice people. But the ban was a libel, having other consequences, hence the case, which is not an attempt to regain editing privileges. If that were to happen, it would be because the WMF, as advised by counsel, considers this a reasonable outcome.
Yes, I have a case, I believe it will survive a motion to dismiss, but even to file a motion to dismiss, the WMF will need to engage a lawyer, and there is an expense to that, substantially more than the $400 I have spent so far. Since I expect that the WMF has competent counsel, I think they will attempt to negotiate, what they should have done when I sent the first registered letter a year ago. It is much cheaper than duking it out in court, but I think they assume that they only ban incompetent basement dwellers who will not file, and they appear to have been mostly correct on that. I know of at least one other case where they banned someone who may have had a case. He decided that he didn’t have clean hands.
Kumioko (also office banned) wrote:
Yeah to be honest theres really no reason for a website or business in general to not tell someone why they were banned or barred from it. I also think it’s possible he could get them to reverse the policy of bans being non appealable.
Now, in general, a business can ban anyone. But can they put up a sign, visible to the public, saying “John Doe is banned from this store”? I don’t think so. I am not going to telegraph what I would settle for. But they could do it without harm and it would be safer and better for everyone.
Yes, “non-appealable” is vulnerable to attack, but it also might be defensible. I can imagine the arguments. I do know what I would do if I were counsel for the WMF. It’s really simple, and just about any attorney would do it. So this is fun. I could have filed in forma pauperis, I’m on social security with not really enough income, but I was looking at a possible statute of limitations and it would have taken time to get a judge to issue the order. So since I did have $400 available, cash in a drawer, actually, just enough, I decided to just file, it was fair enough that someone pay the court expenses, and so . . . I’ll get that from the WMF for starters. If not, they can suck eggs and spend money on attorneys and win or lose. I don’t know what they will do, but I see random idiots claiming they should “never settle,” as if that should be policy. Yeah, policy for the terminally stupid. It can get incredibly expensive. I *can* file in forma pauperis and get free process serving and more. I have studied the rules.
I was the perfect person to be put in this position, to create a possibility of at least some small reform. I have enough legal experience that *probably* the case will not be dismissed, and, yes, I anticipated the arguments that the opinionated opinionators advance.
The case against RationalWiki is different. I mentioned them, but they are more immune, as a foundation that does not itself make content decisions — unless legally compelled. I did send them an email, they ignored it, but I have never dropped the few dollars on a certified mail to them. Maybe I will. And maybe they will fold. They do have sufficient assets to be worth suing, and the law they rely on for protection is not completely clear, and, again, refusing to negotiate is not smart, particularly after someone shows they are serious. At this point, they are not under legal threat. Certain individuals may be, and individuals are not so protected against libel charges.
This was posted, from the Complaint:
Claims (among other stuff) that:-
3. (on) February 24, 2018, without warning or notice and with no violation of the Terms of Service (“TOS”), WMF
published a global ban of plaintiff, and publication continues. WMF has refused response to plaintiff.
And thus seeks for:-
1. $200,000 to date for harm to reputation and public support of plaintiffs legitimate activities as a writer,
2. Order that alleged Terms of Service (TOS) violations be disclosed to users so that they may correct them.
3. Order for due process with bans, and, failing that, that they be lifted or, as a minimum, hidden for privacy.
4. Order that Does 1-9, on discovery of identity, cease defamation and, where possible, issue corrections.
5. punitive or exemplary damages for negligence and malicious defamation.
The WMF doesn’t respond to me either, because I honestly don’t think they care about the effects bans have on the people, the projects or the community. As I have stated before, it is my belief that the so called trust and safety section issues the bans at their discretion and legal and other areas are courtesy copied to make sure the paper work is right and to give the appearance of a fair process.
I think 1, 4 and 5 are unlikely and amount to wishful thinking but it’s worth a try. The law in the US says we have the right to face our accusers but technically being banned from a website isn’t a crime and according to multiple cases in California nor is violating the ToU or ignoring bans for ToU violations. So I don’t know if the courts are going to compel the WMF to divulge the identities of editors for something that isn’t considered a crime.
In the end, even if the result is NULL, it will cause the WMF to spend time and resources for what amounts to $400 of the individuals money and a few hours of time.
He will be lucky not to have the WMF awarded legal fees.
The WMF doesn’t do much right, but they have friends and donors who know which legal firms to retain.
Abd just opened a can of whoopass on himself.
If the WMF want to make an example of him, he’s just committed bankruptcy.
Ongoing libel, unremediated injury to plaintiffs reputation, harassment of family, $200,000
Who all knows the Abd account is you?
What more damage could the WMF do to your reputation?
Harassment of family sounds like you’re on the edge of committing libel here.
1. Having threatened plaintiff with harm, one or more Does created an article defaming plaintiff on RationalWiki,with malice, and acting to preventing correction.
The WMF doesn’t control RationalWiki and is not responsible for anyone who posts there.
2. Does 1-9 filed false complaints, possibly coordinated, with the Wikimedia Foundation (“WMF”).
What injury does a ‘false complaint’ do to you?
How will you prove this?
Again, close to the libel edge.
How is the WMF liable for this?
Vigilant is demonstrating profound legal ignorance. The Complaint is quite simple. I begins with a recital of alleged fact, which can be alleged on information and belief. I must believe that I can establish this, but I can be wrong. A complaint is never libel! (I saw many people make that mistake, they believed that Rossi, filing his complaint, must have been telling the truth because supposedly he could be charged with libel or perjury if not. No. You can file a complaint if you believe something to be true, or even if you believe it is possibly true. You do not have to have proof. You will be looking to obtain evidence in discovery. And one cannot libel a “Doe.” “Someone stole my shoes” does not libel anyone, does not accuse anyone of being a thief.
The alleged facts do not negate that someone may have filed a legitimate complaint. Only that I believe that at least one complaint was false, and the most likely one is the reported email harassment of a certain user. If he complained about harassment, and I have the emails and have published them, he libelled me. But what did he actually report to the WMF? I don’t know.
I may not be able to find out, but there are procedures for handling confidential material. No, you cannot libel someone privately and then be immune, because of privacy protections. That veil can be penetrated. There were claims of attorney-client privilege in Rossi v. Darden. I think a magistrate looked at the documents and ruled.
The fact recited did not make the WMF liable. They are responsible for their actions, not for the content of complaints.
Too long, Vigilant has been confined to his asylum.
3. February 24, 2018, without warning or notice and with no violation of the Terms of Service (“TOS”), WMF
published a global ban of plaintiff, and publication continues. WMF has refused response to plaintiff.
You don’t have a constitutional right to use their platform.
Correct. I have not claimed I did or do.
You don’t have a financial injury from being prevented from using it, unless you’re copping to paid editing now…
I have not claimed and did not suffer financial injury from being forbidden to use the wikis. I have claimed injury from the *publication* of the ban, which was unnecessary and gratitious, and, were there actual TOS violations, they could have been addressed without that publication.
He went on with a bit more “dipshittery.” His legal counsel is worth less than what was paid for it.
He’s after the John Does as well as the WMF. He’s demonstrating that one of the John Does has done things other than harass him on Wikipedia, to strengthen the case for the WMF having to help identify said person.
Poetlister is, by the way, another office-banned user. He was the first user to be honored with a “community ban,” which actually libelled him, accusing him of criminal actions which he did not do. But he never pursued recourse. The WMF would not have been liable, but they later office-banned him. So maybe, maybe not. It depends on conditions, and the WMF has been banking on the TOS provisions and that most people will just walk away. But I don’t know that anyone had ever weaponized a ban as the Smiths did, with the help of a handful of other users.
Vigilant piled on more. He’s calling it “suicide by court.” Vigilant has no idea what it is like to live without fear of conditions. He also has no idea of the possibilities. I.e., I have time to obtain counsel. No attorney would advise relying on what he proclaims as obvious.
If I erred in my Complaint, I can amend it. A judge will not grant a Motion to Dismiss without my having that opportunity. I know many of the facts in this case, and legal precedents, and I was told by someone with substantial legal expertise that I have a case. Having a case does not mean I will win, but that it is possible, and I go for possibilities.
As a result, I have literally lived a life to die for. 7 children (two adopted) (Oliver Smith considers me a disgusting breeder, saying something about him — an anti-natalist), and 7 grandchildren, one very new and amazingly beautiful.
At 70, having been out of the sciences since my early twenties, I was published in a mainstream peer-reviewed journal on a topic of high importance, and the work I recommended in that paper has been funded with a $6 million grant.
My writing is widely appreciated on Quora, and it’s fun, I’m followed by some very, very good writers. By comparison, and without protective structure, the wikis are useless time-wasters, and standard fora are even more useless.
Besides, I do the most difficult Sudoku, in ink. Heh! And, yes, I’m getting older. Stealing a meme from Groucho Marx, that’s wonderful if you consider the alternative.
Ah yes, above, Vigilant mentioned paid editing. I’ve done paid editing. Done the way I did it, it is not a violation of policy, and the customer was fully satisfied, so Vigilant can go jump in a lake even though he is already all wet.
Just because Vigilant attacks others for free, perhaps for the sadistic lulz, doesn’t mean that everyone must write for free!
This bloviating went on. BURob13:
The WMF has made no statements about Abd publicly except to say he’s globally banned, so they cannot have defamed him.
The publication of the ban, which is distinct from the ban itself, was, in this case, intended by at least the Smith complainants to be defamatory, that was the purpose.
Moreover, he isn’t even claiming he was defamed by the WMF, at least by my reading. His only claim about the WMF in that filing is that they globally banned him. Obviously, they are legally entitled to bar anyone from contributing to their privately-owned website.
Given many of the representations of the WMF about Wikipedia, that is not necessarily true, but it has never been tested, to my knowledge. I am instead focusing on the publication of the ban as a libelous act. I am, by the way, still allowed to “use” the site. Just not to use an account (or to edit by IP).
I struggle to see where he has even articulated any claim that the Wikimedia Foundation has committed a tortious act. I agree that, if Abd is fortunate, the WMF will move to dismiss, it will be granted, and they will not seek costs. There’s a snowball’s chance in hell this reaches discovery.
Here is what I expect is likely.
The WMF will negotiate and most likely we will reach a settlement without further action. If the WMF is intransigent — or perhaps I’m stubborn and stupid, but I wouldn’t bank on that, unless I decide that whoopee! This is fun! (and I do have advisors involved) — then it is possible for an MTD to prevail, but by no means certain. These trolls have no idea how difficult an MTD is, few are granted if the plaintiff is at all competent and there is any possibility of some aspect of the case prevailing. Any possibility at all, it can be pretty dim, and I’ve seen that up close.
The whole reason the office bans are a total block box is to make a lawsuit like this hopeless. All Abd has done so far is waste four hundred bucks, and that’s probably all that will happen.
I’m sure that’s the idea. But nobody has ever tested this. The $267 million lawsuit I covered was one where an LLC was formed to buy a technology that was quite visible as probably worthless, simply to find out for sure, and they invested about $20 million for that purpose. Was that wasted? They accomplished their goal which was that discovery, knowing that if the technology actually worked even roughly as claimed, perhaps merely being exaggerated by an eccentric inventor, it was worth a trillion dollars. So was their $20 million foolishly spent? The reality is that by being that bold, they attracted a commitment of another $200 million. So those “fools” multiplied their funds to invest by a factor of ten, and that new money did not go to the fraud, $50 million was actually given to them (maybe more, it’s not clear), it went to scientists for the most part. These are very long term angel investors. And I get to meet and work with people like that. So what I invested $400 in was to find out what might be possible. That will not be wasted, unless I walk away from it without finding out. Of course, I might not find out because of making some mistake that someone else might not make. But this life, it’s always like this. If we are afraid of making mistakes, we never learn.
As for the $400, that’s only for the court costs. That doesn’t include airfare, hotel stay, etc. if he is coming from some where outside the US (which I believe he is).
Of course there is a small chance that he will get a favorable ruling from the Judge but in California it’s doubtful.
Kumioko has missed details found in the Complaint. The filing is in U.S Federal District Court, a Diversity action, filed in Massachusetts. The court is about twenty-five minutes drive away, or I could take a bus there for $0.75 or Uber for not much. This is not a California Court, and it is not clear to me what state law will apply. The WMF is actually a Florida corporation, the Office is in San Francisco, and the servers are in WTF land. Precedent seems to be clear that I can file this way. I did do a fair amount of research before filing.
Vigilant ranted on. Really, this guy is the true nut case.
Given his rapacious online begging for his various “cold fusion””institutes”,
Rapacious? The GoFundMe page has a goal of $20,000. A few years back, I invested about $1200 plus travel and hotel expenses in training as to how to create transformative projects. That has been amply recovered, but only a little of that show on that page. Part of that training is to not think small. Could I use $20,000 for cold fusion journalism purposes? This technology is being researched all over the world! Easily. So why not ask for it? Nobody is required to look at that page, just as nobody is required to read my blog.
In almost two years, that page raised $2750 (which paid my expenses in Florida for the trial, and going to ICCF-21 in Colorado last year. About two weeks ago there was a Colloquium on cold fusion at MIT. I was hesitant about going, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a place to stay, and though I could take the bus there for not much, hotel rooms were on the order of $200 per night, and I’d need to stay three nights for the two-day Colloquium, and there would be other expenses. So I asked the research community if they wanted me to be there. What I got was an immediate response from one investor in the field, telling me that his company would pay all my expenses, get myself a nice hotel! And others asked how they could help, and this is where the recent $500 came from, there was no open appeal. But there may be, because coming up is the International Conference on Cold Fusion in Italy, I think in September. That will be far more expensive, but I suspect that the community will also want me there. If not, well, I won’t go! I do almost everything for community, little just for myself. And if the community doesn’t appreciate it, not my problem, I go somewhere else where I am appreciated.
(As it happened, I was able to stay with a friend, so I had no hotel cost. He lives close to MIT, so it was a couple of dollars on Uber Share. Easy Peasy.)
What these trolls and lolcows don’t realize is that the people who attacked me have also attacked many, in the nutrition field, and some of these have money and high motivation. I have not received any funding for what I have done in the Anglo Pyramidologist affair, and I’m reluctant to spend Infusion Institute money for this (which pays my cold fusion related expenses, and which also received much more funding directly, not through the GoFundMe page). Those people in this new field may well contribute to legal expenses. Or not. I don’t demand anything.
Except, of course, an effing response to a Complaint! In fact, I don’t even demand that, because I’d love it if they don’t respond, because that default judgment would, well, take me out of bankruptcy. Far more than enough. I expect, as I mention above, that they will negotiate. They could ameliorate harm rather easily. Why would they refuse?
What a court will actually allow is up to the court, depending on what evidence is presented.
Not on the mindless opinions of Wikipediocracy trolls.
I strongly suspect this is a shakedown for money. In that rat’s nest of a brain, Abd probably thinks that the WMF is a soft target and that’s he’s just the Pooh Bear to extract that delicious mhoney.
I love rats. Amazing creatures. Smart as hell. The WMF may or may not be a soft target, it depends on many factors that I don’t know. But they definitely have deeper pockets than Oliver and Darryl Smith. The former is already being sued and the plaintiff does not expect to see the money, just satisfaction, and defamation is a criminal offense where Oliver lives. Oliver is on the dole, has no job, though he is about 29. Darryl, I don’t know anything about his employment and only where he lived, not where he lives. But all this can be handled, if needed. It only takes money, and Darryl has graduated, probably in biology, but also in targets, from attacking helpless students of parapsychology to going after successful authors and physicians, who just might sue his pants off. Or not. But if I succeed in opening this up, it will provide ammunition for others who are being libeled by the same team.
I only want the truth to come out, as a primary goal. The rest is to recover costs and expenses and damages.
Secondly, there is no lever that Abd can use in a judicial arena to force the WMF to explain why they banned him.
While I have asked for that, I do understand the difficulty. (The question would be protecting the privacy of complainants, great idea.) Vigilant is refusing to recognize the claimed basis for the suit. Maybe I need to amend the Complaint to make it more clear. The basis is not that they banned me, but that they published it. However, at this point, they did publish it and there were consequences. First, was I libelled in the complaints? If so , they are not protected speech, they were defamation. If the WMF refuses to disclose them, they simply become fully responsible for the action they took. Was the ban publication defamatory? That is a factual question, not a matter of law.
The WMF stands to learn something about how to better protect themselves. Will they? I don’t know. I do know this: if they won’t talk with me about the ban and at least hear what happened from my point of view, showing that they have understood it, I won’t settle, unless they offer me a fat incentive. How about “We’ll give you your effing $200,000 if you go away and stop writing about us? I might consider it, because I’ve got a lot of other things to write about. I have no idea what they will do, really, except I expect them to talk to me, because it is entirely too stupid not to, they would be risking too much for too little benefit. I don’t expect them to be stupid, but I have been wrong about things like that before!
They’ll evaluate his fiscal state to estimate how long he can afford to litigate.
I have no ongoing expenses of litigation, and I’m not in a rush. What I have as current assets are irrelevant to what I might be able to raise, if I need to do that. I have competent heirs, one highly competent legally. While we can never be certain about the future, I am very likely to see this through to the end. This alleged legal analysis is idiocy.
The WMF’s legal team will hire local legal counsel to assist. The local counsel will already know everyone in the local jurisdiction’s court system.
And, I assume, they will meet with me face-to-face. I’m really good at that! I do well with judges, too. Now, local counsel will cost them, for competent counsel, maybe $300 per hour. Vigilant has claimed they will “bury me” with lawyers. In Florida, the plaintiff (Rossi) had four lawyers sitting there, the defendants had five, and the third-party defendants, one. Ten lawyers. No wonder when settlement talk started up, the jury sent out of the room everyone was smiling, happy, the lawyers joking with each other and even chatting with me. (Rossi’s original counsel was with a firm where the principal, a highly experienced woman, had died, so I commiserated with a junior lawyer from that firm that was part of the team, about the loss.. These internet trolls have no idea what real people skills look like, because they don’t have them.)
So, what, they will bury me with three lawyers, $900 per hour? For how long? As a pro se defendant, if needed, I can ask for additional time for replies, and I am likely to get it if I don’t alienate the judge by being the “kook on steroids” that Vigilant imagines me to be. Under stress, I slow down and become very careful, but I avoid stress as much as possible. Judges like it.