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Lawsuit results from opinions posted on gun boards

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by searcher451, Jul 14, 2008.

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  1. searcher451

    searcher451 Member

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    If you think Big Brother, in one form or another, isn't watching these days -- even on this very gun board -- check this story out. It comes from the Bend Bulletin in Bend, Oregon, a small community in the central part of the state. Redmond is 18 miles to the north.


    Redmond man’s Web postings spur lawsuit, free speech argument
    By Cindy Powers / The Bulletin

    Published: July 11. 2008 4:00AM PST A Georgia company that makes weapon silencers has sued a Redmond man for $200,000, claiming he damaged the company’s reputation through anonymous comments he made in an online chat room.

    In a federal suit filed in Eugene, Advanced Armament Corp. argues that Ian Hale Garner, 30, damaged the company’s relationships with its customers by defaming the company.

    Posting anonymously as “Ian187” in April, Garner wrote that a manufacturer of assault rifles for the United States Special Operations Command “dumped” Advanced Armament because of “accuracy issues and personal conflicts with ownership at AAC,” according to the suit.

    The statements are protected by free-speech laws that apply to public forums like chat rooms, Garner’s Bend lawyer, Mike McGean, said.

    Advanced Armament’s Portland lawyer, Jennifer Gates, declined to say how the company found Garner before filing suit in May.

    “Let’s just say it wasn’t that difficult to track him down,” Gates said.

    The complaint claims that Garner, commenting on the Web sites AR15.com and SilencerResearch .com, also wrote that the same assault rifle manufacturer was making arrangements to purchase equipment from another silencer company.

    Gates says those statements are not true, but McGean said Advanced Armament has not come out with any information that contradicts them.

    McGean has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing it is not supported by law, and that Advanced Armament filed suit as a type of scare tactic to keep Garner and others from talking about the company.

    “They picked him out because, I think, they just wanted to set an example,” McGean said. “They wanted to shut him up. They wanted to bully him.”

    McGean has filed the motion under an Oregon statute that allows dismissal of lawsuits filed to inhibit free speech.

    The statute says any statement made in a place open to the public, or a public forum, that involves an issue of public interest qualifies for dismissal.

    Advanced Armament’s Gates agreed Thursday that courts have ruled Internet sites are public forums. But Gates said the type of speech Garner engaged in was “commercial defamation,” which is not protected by free-speech laws.

    “This is not the kind of circumstance where an individual can just go on the Internet and damage a company’s reputation, and expect to be protected by the First Amendment,” Gates said.

    Though it does not cite any specific harm, the lawsuit says Advanced Armament “faces the threat of permanent damage to its reputation and goodwill, and damage to and loss of its customer relationships.”

    The suit also says that, after Garner’s statements were published, some of the company’s customers contacted Advanced Armament with concerns about the quality of its products.

    The company originally filed for a temporary restraining order to stop Garner from repeating the statements online or making more statements that could harm the company’s reputation.

    Judge Thomas A. Coffin has denied the restraining order and set a hearing on McGean’s motion to dismiss for October.

    Under Oregon law, a party filing a defamation suit must prove three things.

    The statement made must have been defamatory, it must have been published in some form and it must have caused damage to the party filing suit.

    The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that “communication is one which would subject a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or tend to diminish the esteem, respect, goodwill or confidence in which one is held or to excite adverse, derogatory, or unpleasant feelings or opinions against one,” qualifies as defamation.

    But truth is an absolute defense in Oregon, and McGean said that is why his client will ultimately prevail.

    “They haven’t come forward with anything to show that the statements he made were actually false,” McGean said.

    Advanced Armament has asked a federal court to seal documents it plans to file to show that Garner’s statements were false, but that request has been denied.

    Gates said the fact that Garner’s postings were untrue is obvious but declined to be more specific.

    “I think the primary factor is the tone of a defamation claim is that the statements are false, and the evidence of that is abundantly clear,” Gates said. “And since that is a make or break matter for the defendant, I don’t see how he can get around that.”

    Cindy Powers can be reached at 541-617-7812 or [email protected].

    ---

    Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2008

    www.bendbulletin.com


    Federal law generally dictates that, in addition to proving that the comments made were false, an aggrieved party also must prove that actual malice was intended on the part of the originator of the message. Malice, of course, is a difficult thing to verify, unless there is some sort of smoking gun left behind: emails or letters, phone calls that were taped or otherwise recorded, witnesses who could testify to statements made that the intention of the poster, in this case, was to do the silencer company harm by recklessly telling lies. The article makes no reference to the malice aspect of a suit, so it will be interesting to see what standards are applied when and if the case proceeds to trial in an Oregon courtroom.

    On the other hand, there's a message for us all here: The next time you log on to The High Road and make a comment about a company or an individual that reflects your considered opinion but that may, in fact, prove to be untruthful, you could find yourself the subject of a costly lawsuit and in need of legal representation.

    Nice, eh?
     
  2. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    I would think they are doing that to themselves with such a silly lawsuit.
     
  3. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    That only applies to Public Figures. It would be a stretch to call Advanced Armaments a Public Figure.

    Heck - I've been a gun guy for the past 35 years and never heard of Advanced Armaments until today. I don't imagine I am alone in that either.

    That said - companies use intimidation all the time to shut up their critics. In this case though it appears that AA picked the wrong guy to try and intimidate.
     
  4. machinisttx

    machinisttx Member

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    That guy is a member over on AR15.com
     
  5. divemedic

    divemedic Member

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  6. CBS220

    CBS220 Member

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    They're a very well known company for being royal PITAs.

    But, if what Ian said was untrue, they may have a case, as stupid as it may be.
     
  7. MGshaggy

    MGshaggy Member

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    I agree with you 100%, Tex.

    FWIW, I own one AAC suppressor (an Evo-9) and while its a good unit, I've heard a lot of people have had problems with AAC, their customer service, and other issues I won't go into here. Fortunately I haven't had to use their customer service for my can, but after reading this and how AAC is trying to bully people, it will definitely be my last AAC product.

    If you want to buy a great suppressor from a top-notch company with a stellar record for customer service, try Gem-tech.
     
  8. Conqueror

    Conqueror Member

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    I think the biggest issue is that AAC publicly told Ian "you are not correct" and he continued posting anyway.

    I've made statements about another company before which were similar to Ian's, but one of that company's dealers (who I know) contacted me and let me know I was incorrect. I publicly apologized and retracted my statement, and that was that.
     
  9. Conqueror

    Conqueror Member

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    Not to sidetrack this thread, but GemTech produces one of the most consistently crappy suppressor lines money can buy. Their pistol cans are among the loudest available, and their rifle cans cost significantly more than comparable models from other companies.
     
  10. Regolith

    Regolith Member

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    Thank you Captain Obvious. :neener:

    Libel is very hard to prove. More than likely the complaint will be dropped, and the company may have set themselves up for a counter suit, unless they can prove malicious intent. It will be even more damaging for them if it turns out the guy's comments were factually accurate.
     
  11. MGshaggy

    MGshaggy Member

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    You need to stop reading stats on the internet and get into the field with various manufacturers cans. Their old Vortex-9 (made years before AAC or the Evo-9) still gives my Evo a run for the money. Pure decibel figures don't tell the whole story as far as sound reduction goes. Moreover, Gem-Tech's customer service blows away just about every other company in the business. You call Gem-tech and Phil Dater answers his own phone and will spend whatever time is necessary with a customer. Try and get ahold of Brittingham.

    I'll admit their recent offerings aren't quite as steller as some of their older stuff, but its still quite good and if you have a problem with a Gem-tech, you can be sure Dater will make it good.
     
  12. Clint C

    Clint C Member

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    AA Who?

    I've never heard of AA until now.
     
  13. Jorg Nysgerrig

    Jorg Nysgerrig Member

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    How exactly does a company reading forums that discuss their product qualify as Big Brother? Don't people post things on forums intending for them to be read? :confused:
     
  14. Blakenzy

    Blakenzy Member

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    Shoot, if an “Ian187” can do all that to your company with a few remarks on an anonymous internet forum then your products must really be lacking...
     
  15. TAB

    TAB Member

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    who ever owns that company needs to have thier "man card" pulled.
     
  16. Picard

    Picard Member

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    So giving a bad review of a product is now grounds for a lawsuit? What the heck is this country coming to?

    I heard of a similar story of a person who gave a bad eBay review who got sued for it.:barf:
     
  17. Gunsby_Blazen

    Gunsby_Blazen Member

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    2pts to Jorg,
    i dont think this is qualifies as "big brother",

    On the other hand, I do think that's a pretty poopy direction that company is moving in. It is a good idea for people to know about these lawsuits. Message boards such as this seems to be the double whammy for them.
    as for me it means not, as in my state you cannot have a sound suppressor......
     
  18. fletcher

    fletcher Member

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    Well, I'm going to keep this in mind when (or if) I'm ever shopping for a suppressor. No AAC for me - they just trashed themselves more than Mr. Garner ever could have.

    Anyone have a link to the thread?


    EDIT: Including link to the complaint.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2008
  19. Deer Hunter

    Deer Hunter Member

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    My roommate had a anti-spyware anti-hack on his computer for a while. Great program, only ran with XP though.

    He downloads a lot of files from other countries. Most are trance and techno music.

    Well the program would inform him when someone was trying to take a peak at his computer while he was connected to different networks. It even showed their IP and info about what was trying to get in.

    He tells me that in one day he'd be accousted at least 12 times by a government IP source.

    So yes, I believe there are a few departments out there monitoring the webspace. Why wouldn't they?
     
  20. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    I just said bad things about Para Ordanance do you think I will be hearing from their Loyas?:neener:
     
  21. Jorg Nysgerrig

    Jorg Nysgerrig Member

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    And this, boys and girls, is why you might want to read more than the first sentence in a thread. :)
     
  22. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Member

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    Out of all the people with access to my computer, which one of us posted this?

    End of lawsuit.
     
  23. CBS220

    CBS220 Member

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    No, Para hires mall ninjas to cart you off in their tactical wheelbarrows during the middle of the night.

    Much more cost-efficient than paying court fees.
     
  24. jakk280rem

    jakk280rem Member

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    I swear to God I'll never bad mouth Taurus, Glock, Wolf, Lorcin, High-Point, WWB, Uncle Mikes, BSA, or Wal-Mart ever again.
     
  25. pbearperry

    pbearperry Member

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    Well,I am going to go out on a limb and speak my mind here.I think that Democrats are Poo Poo heads.And the ACLU are a bunch of cooties.
     
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