In 2001 Forbes published "Death
Wish," which later was used as evidence in a viatical lawsuit filed by the
Although I detest the expression, "needless to say," it is appropriate here. Forbes did not capitulate to any of LPI's demands.
At this writing, LPI has finally met their match. Battered by a combination of the SEC, civil filings, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and the web site www.seekingalpha.com, it is apparent that nothing I ever published about Life Partners or Pardo was defamatory.
The Need for a Federal Anti-SLAPP Statute
SLAPP suits threaten the First Amendment rights of defendants, are expensive to defend, and may deprive the public of essential information. Equally important: SLAPP suits drain resources from our courts. Neither state nor federal courts can afford the time and expense of litigating lawsuits that have no merit.
Life Partner's SLAPP began in
January 1999 and was dismissed
The following year, 2000, when ABC's
principals, Jess and Keith LaMonda, realized they were losing these lawsuits,
they filed new defamation lawsuits: one against Kiplinger's and another against
me. This time they filed in
Their attorney wrote up the order for
the judge to sign. Obviously, it was submitted for signature on a day when the judge
rushed through dozens of seemingly simple orders and did not read the text. The
text prohibited me from selling my first book anywhere in the world, including through the internet. The LaMonda
brothers sent the order to my web host and told him to shut down the web site.
He did--until days later,
Five years later, in 2005, the Department of Justice indicted the LaMonda brothers. They were found guilty in 2007 and sentenced to twenty years (C. Keith LaMonda) and thirteen years (Jesse LaMonda). In 2006 the SEC sued their companies and placed them in receivership.
Then there is the infamous Mutual
Benefits Corporation. When I wrote about this company I used their name,
sometimes abbreviating it as MBC. Their
SLAPP suit was filed in federal court in south
Again, I hired an attorney. One year later MBC dismissed their suit. The following year the SEC shut down MBC. Then the Department of Justice indicted the principals and an array of others, including attorneys. Other than the principals, all who were indicted are now in prison. The principals continue to battle the criminal lawsuit.
In 2001 Scott Wilbanks, a viatical
broker, filed a SLAPP suit against me in state court in
This time I hired bottom-of-the-barrel
lawyers, believing their false claim of familiarity with
Every government action against these companies was too late to benefit me. Because I am stubborn, because no on else takes the risk of exposing unindicted con artists, and because I am proud of our First Amendment I will not be silenced.
But until we have a federal anti-SLAPP statute, these meritless lawsuits will continue to consume court resources at an alarming rate. Nothing else will deter SLAPPers. Their deep pockets allow them to drag out litigation in order to run up costs to the defendant--and they write off their own legal costs as a business expense.