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Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones was victorious this week against blog TheDirty.com in her lawsuit for libel and defamation.
TheDirty.com touts itself as the “world’s first ever reality blogger” who is “all about gossip and satire.” The site’s posts primarily criticize and disparage pictures of girls wearing provocative clothing. Along with its scandalous remarks, the website lists the disclaimer, “Postings may contain erroneous or inaccurate information. All images are credited to their original location. The owner of this site does not ensure the accuracy of any content presented on TheDirty.com.” The disclaimer was not enough to save TheDirty.com in court.
Jones sued TheDirty.com for libel and defamation after the website alleged that she had sex with Bengals players and had two venereal diseases. The blog explicitly referred to Jones as Sarah J. and included her picture. Jones only sued the website after it ignored her repeated requests to take down the material. Reports on TheDirty.com especially humiliated twenty-five year old Jones because she is a high school teacher. The school was forced to block the website because so many students were reading about Jones from school computers.
Dirty World Entertainment Recordings, which runs the site TheDirty.com, and the site’s operator Hooman Karamian, also known by his online alias “Nik Richie,” were named defendants in the action, which was brought in February.
The defendants never responded to the lawsuit.
Judge William Bertelsman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky handed down the judgment Thursday. He awarded one million dollars in compensatory damages and a hefty ten million in punitive damages. He also added an annual interest rate of 0.25 percent.
The damages award could be reversed, however, because of a basic violation of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Richie, the site’s operator, said neither he nor his company were ever served in the case. Furthermore, Richie states that the offending post has since been removed. The complaint listed the defendant as Dirty World Entertainment Recordings, but the actual name of the company is Dirty World LLC. Despite Richie’s claims, Bertelsman ruled against Dirty World Entertainment Recordings. Kentucky attorney Eric Deters, who represents Jones, stated that it was irrelevant that the incorrect corporation, website, and physical address were listed on the complaint and judgment.
Deters further responded to Richie’s claims, “We’re still going to serve that S.O.B. personally . . . I’m going to make that dirty, rotten, mean, vermin bastard pay. He’s a piece of dirt.” Sounds like Deters is using the public statements to the media to give Richie a taste of his own insulting medicine.
– Anne Goodwyn
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