A federal court has entered an $11 million default judgment for defamation against a blog that was apparently sued by mistake, says Politico.
The blog at the root of the dispute is TheDirty.com, a site dating back to 2007 which posts pictures of people and then holds them up to extreme ridicule.
As Cincinnati.com explains, TheDirty.com allegedly posted pictures of Sarah Jones, a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and Kentucky high school English teacher, and then made claims that she had sexually transmitted diseases, was having an affair with a player (a violation of Bengal cheerleader rules), and had sexual intercourse in her classroom.
This is the kind of off-the-charts fact pattern you can usually find only on a law school exam. It’s the belt-and-suspenders approach to trying to become a defamation defendant.
Assuming the allegations were false, then Jones had a granddaddy of a defamation case.
As a professor who teaches torts and media law, take it from me, this is not what you would call a gray area. As defamation claims go, this is hardy. You could drop it off in the Gobi desert with nothing more than a stick of chewing gum and it would gain 20 pounds of pure muscle and come flying back on a chartered jet sipping champagne.
And yet there was a problem.
It appears that Jones sued TheDirt.com – leaving out the “y” in TheDirty.com.
News of the $11 million dollar judgment must have come as a surprise to TheDirt.com, a fledgling gossip site that seems to have come online only last month.
Now, I have no reason to think that it is, but I tell you if this was typosquatting, it sure backfired. That would be like surreptitiously fishing for perch and landing a great white shark. The silver lining for TheDirt.com, I guess, is that it’s drawing some traffic now.
Hmmm, could this be the makings of the world’s strangest theory of trademark infringement? Imagine: “We demand that you immediately cease and desist from conduct that is acquiring lawsuits that should rightfully belong to us … ”