Hoist by their own petard

By Legal Eagle

I think it’s fair to say that Heath G and I share an obsession with fantastically unsuccessful defamation actions that result in the very opposite outcome to that which the plaintiff sought to achieve. At Minimal State, Heath has a post about the best one yet, involving a hapless company named T & J Towing:

Our latest cautionary tale begins with university student Justin Kurtz who alleges he was the victim of some unscrupulous behaviour by T & J Towing. Kurtz claims:

the company towed his car from the Arboretums apartments in Kalamazoo, where Kurtz is a resident. Kurtz claims that the battery was disconnected to disable the car alarm and the parking sticker was scraped off the windshield.” (Kalamazoo News 14/04/2010)

And so the Facebook group Kalamazoo Residents against T&J Towing was born, with Kurtz claiming he started it as a place for others to share their stories about T & J Towing.  This didn’t go down well with T & J Towing.

Not content with seeking a ‘cease and desist’ and removal of the Facebook group, T & J decided to send a signal to other critics by also seeking  $750k in damages. In hindsight, this may be the tipping point where Kurtz’s battle went from local kerfuffle to national and then international story. …

Go read more. You know you love these stories too.


  1. Peter Patton
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink


    Until very recently, I was 100% in agreement with you. But what do you say to the increasing media exploitation of our digital ‘trails’ for low-rent “Gotcha!” moments? In particular, I am thinking of that 21 year LDP guy whose idiotic ‘twitter’ about Obama and monkey has been reported across the nation by MSM from Fairfax to Crikey?

  2. Tim Quilty
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    LNP guy, Peter. Liberal-National Party. Nothing to do with the Liberal Democrats…

  3. Peter Patton
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Same shit. Different shower.;)

  4. Posted April 19, 2010 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    And we’ll stop there, thanks. Just sayin.

  5. Posted April 19, 2010 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    So I’m guessing that the moment it’s just a case of he said/she said? TJ towing had better hope that a witness doesn’t come forward to verify the claims.

  6. HeathG
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Mindy.

    I think it looks bad for T&J.

    It’s been revealed that T&J has a pretty poor reputation with the local division of the Better Business Bureau, receiving the lowest possible rating (an F). Kalamazoo BBB

    As per my original post, Kurtz’s legal team is now using the facebook group to contact other people who have had similar experiences with T&J.

    T&J seems to walk and talk like a duck, so I suspect its owner is going to need to swallow his pride and back down on this one.

  7. Posted April 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I do rather like David Cameron’s take on twitter: ‘too many tweets make a twat’.

    I know lots of people use twitter, and I also know that many readers come to this blog because of two or three very popular ‘twitterers’ with many followers who happen to read our stuff, but I simply do not have it in me to start using it myself.

  8. JackP
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Irving v Penguin Books.

    It’s very well recounted in a book by one of the experts employed by Penguin Richard J. Evans, “Telling Lies About Hitler”.

    I can’t recommend it highly enough as an example of how the tables have a habit of turning in a libel court.

  9. Posted April 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Good example, JackP, as is the recent Simon Singh case, although that said it does appear that even with an award of costs, Simon Singh is going to be quite badly out of pocket.

  10. davidp
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    My favourite is the Australian ruling against the disgraceful Keysar Trad You reported it here:

  11. Peter Patton
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Apologies for the OT post, but I have a question about the brass tacks of legal practice.

    Goldman Sachs has already supplied the SEC with 20 million (!!!) pages of documents and emails.

    1. How does the ‘discovery’ process work? Who tells GS to hand over documents, and what documents do they specifically demand?

    2. How could GS produce 20 million documents and emails so quickly?

    3. How is any legal team – the SEC, GS lawyers, or the lawyers now taking shareholder actions against GS, possibly deal with this tsunami of paper?

  12. Posted April 26, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    It appears that GS are engaging in the old game of ‘death by discovery’; no-one could go through that much paper, which is, of course, rather the point.

    The practice of discovery varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; it’s scope is often meant to be limited by the use of interrogatories. As the latter can be abused, however, many jurisdictions restrict the number, relying on things like (1) motions or requests for production of documents; (2) requests for admissions; and (3) depositions. Unfortunately, these can be abused as well, and it is generally recognised that the problem is worse in the US, where there is less judicial oversight.

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