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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 10:40:32 PM

Re: IH Geek [Dave] post# 144658

Post# of 201773
As promised, here's the post-mortem and closing chapter on the Mina Mar and Miro Zecevic v. iHub matter. It has directly affected numerous users of iHub as well as other message boards sites, and indirectly affected an untold number of persons who have been either influenced and/or victimized by propaganda and intimidation that resulted from the lawsuit.

Historical Summary

August, 2008 -- iHub received a demand letter from Frederick Hawa, atty for Miro Zecevic and Mina Mar Group Inc. The letter rambled about some unidentified user named Henry Ridge and allegedly libelous posts he made. It did not cite any posts or accounts or ask for any information on Henry Ridge, but did list the aliases of 6 or 7 unrelated iHub users and demanded their user account information, and an apology without stating from who the apology was expected or what it pertained to.

September, 2008 -- iHub replied to Mr. Hawa's letter explaining 1) the legal means by which his clients could attempt to obtain user account information (in other words, obtain a subpoena from a court of competent jurisdiction); 2) that no allegedly libelous post would be removed without an order by a court of competent jurisdiction; 3) that iHub did not owe and would not be offering any apologies; and 4) that iHub could not be sued or held liable for the claims made, pursuant to US federal law.

September, 2008 -- Hawa replies that his clients instructed him to file suit in Canada.

The entirety of the exchange was posted here.

October, 2008 -- iHub was served with the Canadian lawsuit. iHub responded by filing documents with the Ontario court advising the court that it lacked personal jurisdiction over iHub. iHub also filed sworn affidavits and evidence with the court showing the plaintiffs' extensive undisclosed postings on iHub, none of which carried a 17(b) disclaimer.

Simultaneously, iHub filed a lawsuit in US Federal Court for declaratory relief from any foreign judgment obtained by the plaintiffs. A judgment for declaratory relief would have meant that iHub would not have to defend any attempt by the plaintiffs to enforce a foreign libel judgment in the USA. Unfortunately, at that time and unlike Canadian and other commonwealth country court systems, a US Federal court would not assert jurisdiction over the foreign plaintiffs until they attempted to seek enforcement of their judgment in the USA. The case was dismissed by the US court without prejudice, meaning iHub could re-file once the foreign plaintiffs subjected themselves to US jurisdiction.

July, 2009 -- Florida enacts HB 949, which specifically prohibits enforcement of foreign libel judgments. Several other states including New York, Illinois and California had previously or have since enacted similar legislation.

iHub's position throughout has been that the plaintiffs' claims were unenforceable in the USA on constitutional and statutory grounds. Foreign libel judgments are inherently contrary to US federal law and due process since they do not take into account First Amendment protections. iHub also had statutory immunity from liability pursuant to 47 USC 230. Nonetheless, a defendant must still go through the trouble and cost of proving that a particular judgment is unconstitutional if it was brought to the U.S. for enforcement. With the passage of Florida HB 949, a "repugnant to public policy" defense was no longer required since enforcement of the foreign libel judgment was prohibited by the new state law. iHub withdrew its jurisdictional challenge with the Ontario court and did not offer any defense of the frivolous claims. No matter what the Ontario court ruled, its judgment would not be enforceable in Florida.

As an aside, it is worth noting that the plaintiffs, Mina Mar Group and Miro Zecevic, sued iHub for $4 million in damages. The Ontario court had no choice but to grant a default judgment since iHub had abandoned the jurisdictional challenge and made no attempt defend itself from their frivolous claims. The court had only the plaintiffs' evidence and affidavits to consider in reaching its judgment. For their claim of $4 million in damages, the court awarded the plaintiffs $75,000 in damages (which the plaintiffs characterized as the "going amount" in their subsequent press release), $10,000 punitive damages and some legal costs. The minimal judgment seems to suggest that the Ontario court found a complete lack of credibility in the unchallenged claims and evidence submitted by the plaintiffs. Of course, the only people surprised by that were those who were told and believed they would share in a multi-million dollar windfall -- an outcome that never had any chance of occurring.

The Ontario court also ordered removal of any posts that the plaintiffs deemed to be libelous or defamatory, as well as retractions and apologies to the plaintiffs by iHub. The court further ordered iHub to turn over the user account information of any person that the plaintiffs requested, and to prohibit posts by any person specified by plaintiffs. iHub did not comply with any of the court's orders as the Ontario court lacked jurisdiction over iHub; not a penny has been paid; no posts were removed pursuant to the court's order; and no member account information has been given to the plaintiffs.

Throughout the past couple of years the plaintiffs have repeatedly threatened to pursue their claims in the USA, against both iHub and the plaintiffs' many critics who post on iHub and other websites. Many ill-advised, uninformed, or just "wishful thinking" persons have succumbed to their rhetoric and used it themselves as a means to attack iHub, the plaintiff's many critics and many totally unrelated persons, usually in violation of the iHub User Agreement.

There is even a petition ( http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/mmg/ ) sponsored by the plaintiffs proposing, laughably, the repeal of the Communications Decency Act (or "CDA"). That is the US federal law that prohibits lawsuits and claims of liability against interactive computer services such as iHub when the claim is based on third party content (re: 47 USC 230). Setting aside the irony of a petition to repeal a US federal law sponsored by foreign stock promoters, little did they know that their objectives were not only futile but were the exact opposite of the will of the entire Congress of the United States.

Fast forward to today

The enactment of The SPEECH Act as described in my earlier post.
Bottom line: Enforcement of foreign defamation judgments is outlawed in the USA.

We have not yet discussed with counsel whether or not we will re-file our Florida lawsuit against Mina Mar, Miro Zecevic and their numerous so-called "client" benefactors in light of this new law. Previously not allowed, a judgment for declaratory relief and is now not only possible but mandated with the passage of this law. Either way, the foreign "judgment" that has been the feedstock of numerous press release, filings and uninformed posts has now been rendered moot once and for all.

The End. For now. wink

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