A Rundown of Roca Labs' Defamation Litigation
Have you been following this story? Roca Labs sells "neutraceuticals" that it claims on its website create the same effect as a gastric bypass without surgery. Many unsatisfied customers who bought Roca Labs' products vented on a website called Pissed Consumer.
Roca Labs, pursuant to a clause in its contract with customers, turned around and tried to sue Pissed Consumer for interfering with Roca's contractual relations with its customers. Pretty prosaic stuff, right? That's just the tip of the iceberg.
From Defamation to 'The Fresh Prince'
Roca's attorney, Paul Berger, appears to be one of those hyper-aggressive lawyers who sues everyone over everything. Unfortunately, it's led to quite a bit of a Streisand Effect.
First, Berger threatened to sue Roca customers who agreed to provide declarations to Pissed Consumer's attorney, Marc Randazza. Next, it threatened the website TechDirt with a lawsuit for publishing (public) pleadings related to the case and making statements critical of Roca Labs' litigation strategy.
OK, fine. But then Alfonso Ribeiro appeared. That's right, Carlton Banks from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is involved. Roca Labs claimed that Ribeiro endorsed one of its products and provided a photo showing him holding it. Ribeiro's attorneys intervened, claiming that Ribeiro had never endorsed any of Roca Labs' products and that he never allowed Roca Labs to use his likeness to endorse their products.
Not satisfied with Carlton? How about Tommy Chong? A statement on Roca Labs' Facebook page implied that the less "Nash Bridges" half of Cheech and Chong endorsed the product. This surprised Chong's manager, who told TechDirt he'd never agreed to endorse Roca Labs products.
And Then It Gets Crazy
Roca Labs' vice president published a press release accusing Randazza of bribing a Nevada state senator in order to get an anti-SLAPP bill passed in that state. The state senator responded by threatening the Roca Labs vice president with a lawsuit.
Then Roca Labs sued Randazza personally for making the (public) pleadings available to TechDirt and also for making those comments in the pleadings in the first place. (Notwithstanding, of course, that statements made in a court proceeding aren't defamatory.) Oh, and Randazza has represented pornography companies in the past.
Let's see: DMCA takedown notices to Google for providing links to the Pissed Consumer reviews, and now we're finally at the most recent event in the saga, which is Roca Labs suing a blogger for writing about the litigation.
And that's it so far. Roca Labs has gone on a suing spree, litigating even against people who are already litigating against it just for litigating.
Got it? We can't wait, popcorn in hand, to see what happens next.
- Roca Labs: Until Someone Puts Out an Eye (Likelihood of Confusion)
- Roca Labs Sues Unhappy Customer Who Agreed to Testify Against It (Boing Boing)
- Freedom of Anonymous Online Speech Has Potential Limits (FindLaw's Technologist)
- What Does it Take to Unmask an Anonymous Yelp Reviewer? (FindLaw's Technologist)
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