Archive for June 26th, 2008

Maybe, the founding fathers actually knew what they were doing when they set up a system of checks and balances that ensure that no one branch of our government can become too powerful. We see examples all the time where the President and Congress clash over issues or where the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on a law that Congress passed or some power that the President claims is his executive right. Now, comes an example where Congress has the potential to turn back a recent Supreme Court decision that took away the rights of patients to sue the makers of defective medical devices.

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Cross posted from CL&P Blog

By Paul Alan Levy

In a recent series of demands, a purveyor of “nutraceuticals” called threatened to sue Julia Forte over consumer criticisms appearing on her web site, a forum for identification and discussion of telemarketers based on their phone numbers. (The specific dispute is summarized here) Mynutritionstore’s expressed concern was that the comments about it show up in Google searches.

When Forte replied by citing her protection under the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230, which generally immunizes hosts of discussion sites against suit based on what consumers say on their sites, mynutritionstore’s lawyer, Thomas Georgianna, of the law firm of Horwitz & Cron, had what he no doubt thought was an ingenious response – if he couldn’t sue on the merits, he could sue the anonymous commenters, join the web host as a “necessary party,” seek a preliminary injunction, and thus force the web host to spend money on lawyers, driving up its costs. He apparently hoped that the threat of such expenses would drive Forte to comply with his demands.

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