[Post by Venkat]
Sedersten v. Taylor, 2009 U.S. Dist LEXIS 114525 (Case No. 09-3031-CV-S-GAF) (W.D. Mo. Dec. 9. 2009).
Plaintiff allegedly suffered injuries at the hands of defendant Taylor. Plaintiff sued Taylor, the City of Springfield, and its chief (the claims against the city and the chief were based on theories of negligent hiring and retention). The Springfield News-Leader published an article about the incident in question and the prosecutor’s decision to drop charges against Taylor. A commenter “bornandraisedhere” criticized the prosecutor’s decision. Plaintiff issued a subpoena to the News-Leader requesting the identity of the commenter.
The court rejected plaintiff’s motion to compel the production of information sufficient to identify “bornandraisedhere.” The court found that the sought after information was cumulative, and the identity of “bornandraisedhere” would add little to plaintiff’s argument (that the city negligently hired Taylor).
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Related: The Supreme Court today accepted review of the Arch Wireless case, which involved a public employee’s privacy rights in text messages. (See coverage by the LA Times here.) Also, the EFF is pursuing a claim for attorney’s fees (under a California statute) against a company who is trying to out an anonymous commenter: “USA Technologies Attempts to Out Anonymous Online Critics, Runs Into New California Fee Statute.”