Meanwhile in law & virulent nationalism…

The first proper hearing in the dispute between crowd funding business Patreon and fans of the flat-Earth ally of Vox Day aka Own Benjamin took place today1 in California.

This is the “lawfare”/”replatforming” campaign I discussed in this post https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/vox-days-replatforming-backfires/ The concept is that members of the extreme right aim to use arbitration clauses in terms-of-service to make life difficult for any tech platform that cuts of access to right wing figures. In this case, former comedian Owen Benjamin was kicked off Patreon for violating Patreon’s community guidelines including “offensive public statements in which he blamed black people for AIDS, mocked Hollywood rape survivors, and targeted Jewish people for scorn on the basis of religion”2

Approximately 100 of Owen Benjamin’s supporters attempted to file for individual arbitration after he was kicked off Patreon. To forestall having to sit through multiple identical arbitration proceedings, Patreon changed their terms and have sought an injunction. Today’s hearing was an attempt to get a preliminary injunction on the arbitration proceedings.

The court made an tentative ruling today1 against the preliminary injunction in a Zoom video conference.

“Patreon seeks a preliminary injunction to enjoin defendants “from continuing to pursue improper claims against Patreon in JAMS arbitration,” pending this Court’s consideration and final adjudication of Patreon’s complaint for declaratory judgment. Defendants are individual claimants in 72 pending JAMS arbitration proceedings against Patreon. Patreon claims that those claims are barred by its Terms of Use. Patreon’s request for a preliminary injunction is denied, for several reasons.”

Judge Ethan P Schulman Order To Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction [Opposition – 6/29; Reply – 7/06) TENTATIVE RULING3

Suffice to say, that’s at least a minor win for the bad-guy’s team (not that Patreon are exactly good but they aren’t actively wishing we were all dead). Leading their case is Marc Randazza4 a controversial lawyer who is associated with far-right disinformation outlet InfoWars. Whatever Randazza’s ideological stance might be, he is not without some legal talent5.

I’ll keep keeping an eye on this. Vox Day appears happy, which is always a worry.


1[Timezone wise the date is yesterday for me (July 13) but it was just a few hours ago on July 14 here]

2[According to Patreon’s court documents: Exhibit A in DECLARATION…IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF PATREON, INC.’S EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION CGC20584586 ]

3[ Court documents can be found by looking for “PATREON, INC. VS. PAUL MICHAEL AYURE ET AL” (Case Number: CGC20584586) at the Superior Court of California’s page https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/ The tentative ruling is under the ‘Calendar’ section]

4[ See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Randazza ]

5[For an interesting genre-connection with Randazza, he was involved in the copyright case where Paramount pictures attempted to squash the fan-made Star Trek film Axanar. Randazza made an interesting (and actually entertaining) claim that nobody could claim to own Klingon as a language https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/79378/9-best-parts-legal-brief-behalf-klingon-speakers However, cutesy use of Klingon doesn’t change some of his more sinister uses of the First Amendment eg https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/neo-nazi-andrew-anglin-first-amendment-judge-whitefish_n_5becc692e4b0dbb7ea66fa14?ri18n=true ]

22 thoughts on “Meanwhile in law & virulent nationalism…

  1. A few things here: One it’s not clear if the preliminary injunction issue was actually reached on the merits – the actual ruling doesnt seem to be there with the full reasons, but it looks like at least part of the motions before the Court (a motion to seal?) was not properly briefed, with the other side not having the time to respond and it was marked “off calendar” (basically dismissed).

    In fact from what I can tell the preliminary injunction ruling was basically delayed, because at argument the Plaintiff (the bad guys) brought up a precedent that wasn’t in their papers or is new, and the Court wanted them to submit it. Defendants (Patreon) would then have a right to respond thereto. So a permanent ruling would come after 7/23.

    So this isn’t a “win” for the bad guys yet? The Court basically hasn’t reached the argument, wanting to hear all the legal precedents involved. What precedent the Plaintiffs could have brought up, I have no idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “What precedent the Plaintiffs could have brought up, I have no idea.” Given the players, I figure there’s a one-in-three chance that it’s a Vox Day citation. He’s an authority on everything, after all, so quoting him in favor of the plaintiffs’ argument would make sense. Some people have said that he’s an even more authoritative source than SCOTUS.

      Like

      1. Sorry, should’ve been clearer – the Court is delaying a permanent ruling until it gets what apparently was a recent legal precedent (as in a recent decision in another case) that the plaintiffs brought up and Defendants need to respond to. Quotes from Vox aren’t legal precedents that hold up courts lol.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. @garik:

      In this case, all the documents say Plaintiff is Patreon and Defendents are Ayure et al. So I think Patreon is the one who filed the new info. The Evil Lawyers of Evil now have a week to look it up and say “Nuh-UH!”

      Possibly there was some case recently decided regarding binding arbitration. Given the current political climate, I don’t expect it went well for individuals.

      3 of the defendants didn’t reply to the “Order to Show Cause” at ALL.

      See down at the bottom “Notice of Certain Defendents Non-Opposition”.

      That can’t be good for them. They basically rolled over and told Patreon “You win”. Maybe they’re the smart ones who will get out with the least monetary damage.

      The “Motion to Seal” (presumably the public records of this case?) is “off-calendar” because it wasn’t filed in time. Which IANAL but am guessing means all the details will remain available?

      Milo was name-checked somewhere in today’s wodge of stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah you’re right my bad – I forgot this was the action commenced by Patreon to stop the arbitration instead of the frivolous actions commenced (in arbitration) by the Right Wing nutjobs. Good point.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Cam: Tortious interference I think? But it might have been turtles who knows.

        Tortious interference’s classic example is blackmail. Rather interesting in this case considering the initial (no-longer-appearing-in-this-sketch) lawyer’s “pay up or ELSE!” letters.

        Like

  2. Owen Benjamin is a much bigger fish than Teddy. As such, he’s part of the right wing media networks and gets his Infowars level lawyer to help out the plaintiffs — his patrons — and whatever lawsuit he’s doing. But his patrons are not him. And as we saw in the Vic case, these yahoos aren’t brilliant at this stuff. Randazza might be but InfoWars has had big legal losses.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So the chuckleheads on the hook for lawyer expenses are still on the hook, for even MORE expenses. At least they’re not having to pay travel costs.

    Patreon will respond to whatever it was the RWNJs pulled out of their ass at the last minute* causing even more billable hours to accrue, and this starts over again in a week.

    *(note: this does not magically work like it does on TV)

    Like

    1. Yeah, Patreon mostly just has to drag this out which I’m sure their lawyer will like but isn’t great news for the plaintiffs. So them being happy there’s a delay in an initial motion is, um, clueless.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Delays in lawsuits are always bad news for both sides and only good news for the lawyers. Delays are particularly bad for the poorer of the two sides, with the fewest lawyers.

        Like

      2. Remember that Patreon also paid to have this designated as a “complex case” (legalese for “it’s gonna cost a whole lot of money”), and throwing in whatever last-minute precedent they came up with makes it even more complicated (mo’ money).

        But as this case might become a precedent to be cited in future lawsuits regarding arbitration clauses, it’s only fair to have it clearly decided.

        Like

  4. My general rule of thumb when Beale insists he’s won a legal triumph is to roll my eyes, as he usually hasn’t.

    Interestingly, Beale seems to be parroting some affiliated flunky who insists this is bad news for Patreon.

    My bet is he’s wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The guy who created the GoFundMe for Vic Mignogna’s legal bills?

        Which seems to be more about giving money to the lawyer, Ty Beard, than actually helping Mignogna. The GoFundMe money goes directly to Beard and doesn’t cover expenses awarded by the court.

        It’s quite a saga. The initial case was entirely thrown out under Texas’ anti-SLAPP law, but there’s an appeal going on.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Incompetence and graft, yes.

        He’s nominally a lawyer working out of a storefront in Minnesota, but seems to make his main money doing streaming/videos with bad legal takes and right wing whining. When Vic Mignogna, notorious long time sex pest among the anime voice actor world, had his contracts not renewed with a major anime studio (owned by a bigger corp,) Rekieta latched on to him like a ramora. Rekieta started the legal defense fund on Vic’s behalf without Vic’s request, then talked Vic into using it to sue both the studio and several of his fellow voice actors/victims for defamation and tortious interference and some other stuff. The idea was to get the studio to settle quickly to make the lawsuit go away and punish the voice actors. After other lawyers laughed off taking the case on, Rekieta then got Vic his lawyer in Texas where the case was filed — Ty Beard, who worked for Rekieta’s wealthy grandparents and had no experience in defamation law.

        There’s no telling how much of the legal defense fund ended up in Rekieta’s pocket, but even if none of it did, he made a ton by being a PR streaming hate machine against the defendants — to the point where he was named in the motion for sanctions by the defendants after they won. Rekieta’s legal takes were so bad and Beard was so completely incompetent in the lawsuit and trial that it caught the attention and the astonishment of Law Twitter and several of them, including defamation experts and Texas lawyers, dissected the disaster as it unfolded and dealt with continual rubes who had been misled on even basic defamation law by Rekieta’s rantings. (Greg Doucette started a mammoth Twitter thread to keep track of it all.) Mignogna himself openly admitted in his deposition to some of the sexual assault and harassment that he was suing the defendants over on the claim they were defamatory lies, since his lawyers had no idea how to prep him for deposition. Mignogna lost all 17 counts he brought to the court and also received anti-SLAAP sanctions (extra money he has to pay to encourage him not to abuse the Texas courts again.) He’s of course appealed and the appeal is as much of a mess as the lawsuit but has to go through the process since the initial appeals court did not block the appeals motion.

        Rekieta got banned from Twitter but he still has other venues and I guess he’s looking for a new law case he can declare himself an expert on and rant about. His nickname on Law Twitter is Blackface Lawyer, plus a few others, because he once wore blackface as a supposed joke with friends. By everyone’s accounts, he sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant fellow.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. IANAL but AFAIk this is the sequence of events so far:

    Patreon; *punts Owen*

    Lawyer 1: bring Owen back or we’ll sue for X!

    Patreon: No.

    Lawyer 1: bring Owen back or we’ll sue for X+n!!!

    Patreon: Hell no.

    Patreon: UNLEASH THE KRAKEN! *files case number CGC-whatsit*

    Lawyer 1: *nopes out*

    Patsies 1-80: “waaaah filing a public complaint means the public knows who we are!”

    Bystanders: Duh.

    Randazza: *files more papers on behalf of Patsies*

    Judge: ‘Sup?

    Patreon: *uses Newly Discovered Legal Thing*

    Judge: It’s super-not-effective. Bad Patreon. Randazza you go read up on that and reply. Everyone return next week. *Gavel*

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My memory is vague, but I’m pretty sure I used to follow Randazza’s blog. If it’s who I’m thinking of, he was funny and smart, but I often thought his free speech absolutism was a little over the top. Then he went full on wingnut, as far as I could see, defending only the worst people. I followed a few legal blogs back then, during the Bush Jr. administration.

    Liked by 1 person

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