LawAnswers.com.au - Australia's #1 Legal Community

LawAnswers.com.au is a community of 10,000+ Australians, just like you, helping each other.
Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
Join us, it only takes a minute:

Australian Sued For Online Defamation in USA

Discussion in 'Defamation Law Forum' started by rainmoon, 7 August 2014.

Tags:
  1. rainmoon

    rainmoon Member

    Joined:
    7 August 2014
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi all,

    About 2 years ago I was involved with a very popular 'pyramid' marketing scheme company in Australia. The cost to join the company was costly but I realised after abount a month that it's just a pyramid scheme. So I quit and wrote 2 blog posts reviewing the company: the actual costs of joining and the credibilities of the awards that they claim to receive. The blog posts and my website became popular (ranked top 3 in google search) and many people thanked me for helping them not to join the company.

    I guess it hit the company quite hard so recently I received a lawsuit from the company and also its two founders -- although I never actually used their names or refer to the founders in my posts. It came from an attorney in Arizona, US and was delivered to me at my office. Also there is public information on the internet associating me with the blog so I guess they must have used some tricks.

    They listed many complaints with the major one being online defamation which led to loss of revenues. Most of them ridiculous and groundless -- such as I created hundred of other accounts and commented on my own posts!!

    I was too busy, angry, and -- being a student -- I did not want to spend time and money on the issue so I figured I'll just let them have the default judgement! I deleted my blog posts and website (which was one of the things they asked for), threw the complaints document away, and tried to forget the matter. But recently I received a notification of the 'Application for default'.

    I'm worried that i) the default judgement may ask me to pay some money (although no figures was specified in the complaint) and ii) it may affect my chance of (say) getting a PR in Australia or applying for a visa to the US in the future. Also I can't seem to get it out of my head that I'm still involved in some lawsuit, however ridiculous it is.

    Any advice on what I should do now would be gratefully appreciated!

    Thanks
     
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 July 2014
    Messages:
    1,314
    Likes Received:
    243
    Hi Rainmoon,

    A judgment by default occurs when someone initiates an action in court and the other party fails to submit any response/defence or remains silent on the matter. The judge will hear the prima facie merits of the plaintiff's (person who initiated the action) case and make a ruling on whether, if the facts the plaintiff submits are accepted as true, the elements for defamation are made out. It is usually easy to obtain a default judgment against another if the defendant does not submit any/an adequate response. Therefore, I would recommend you submitting a response. I am unfamiliar with American law, particular, the laws in relation to the State of Arizona. However, most courts allow responses to be submitted in writing.

    I would strongly recommend speaking with a lawyer experienced in the laws of the United States and, in particular, the laws of the State of Arizona.

    In terms of defamation, America is generally more protective of freedom of speech due to the First Amendment under the Constitution than Australia. However, the First Amendment does not protect statements which are false, malicious and/or negligently made.

    The information sheet published by Electronic Frontiers Australia has a great little section on American defamation laws.

    You could look into requesting the court to transfer the matter to Australia. This will depend on American laws and in particular, the rules of the particular court in which the action has been initiated. It will also depend on the rules of the court in Australia to which you wish to transfer the case. Again, I would suggest speaking with someone familiar with the laws of the State of Arizona. Also, you could call up the particular court in Australia to ask about transferring a matter over.
     
    rainmoon likes this.
  3. rainmoon

    rainmoon Member

    Joined:
    7 August 2014
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank Sarah for your explanation and suggestion.

    My situation now is a bit more complicated -- I threw away the original complaint so that makes its impossible for me to respond. The deadline for response is already over which I why they are filing for an application for default.

    Can I request the court to deliver the summons again and vacate the default? and how I would go about doing so?
     
  4. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 July 2014
    Messages:
    1,314
    Likes Received:
    243
    Hi Rainmoon,

    On the notice for application for default judgment, it should have which court they are filing in, any relevant legislation and its provisions (sections in the legislation).

    Each court has its own procedures, which is governed by the legislation (mentioned in your notice). By looking at this legislation, it should tell you how to dispute an application for default judgment, any relevant time limits for responding and grounds for extension this time frame, as well as how to go about submitting a response.

    Another option is to call up the court. The court should have a website that will be able to give you contact details. The court registrar should be able to let you know what the procedure is for receiving an application for default judgement and how to go about getting another copy of the statement of claims. The court website will also have useful information and application templates to assist you.

    You can also try contacting the other party directly and requesting another copy of the statement of claims.

    On the statement of claims, it will be able to tell you under which legal grounds they are charging you and any relevant legislation and its provisions. This will give you a better idea of how to defend it.

    In brief, you will need to know which court the action is being initiated in. Then either speak with the court and enquire directly or look up the court's governing legislation to see their court procedures.

    Again, I would strongly suggest that you speak with a lawyer experienced in American law, in particular, the laws of the State of Arizona. The American legal system differs slightly from the Australian legal system, particularly in how their courts and legislation is structured (as well as the significance of the Constitution).
     
    rainmoon likes this.
  5. rainmoon

    rainmoon Member

    Joined:
    7 August 2014
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks again for your advice, Sarah. I don't wish to spend money on this issue which is the reason why I ignored it in the first place.

    I've contacted their lawyer and asked for a copy of the statement of claims. I will then find the court website and procedure to respond accordingly.
     

Share This Page

Loading...