Florida Court Fixes Erroneous 47 USC 230 Ruling–Giordano v. Romeo

By Eric Goldman

Giordano v. Romeo, 09-68539 CA 25 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Feb. 18, 2011)

I previously blogged about this case last month. Romeo posted a report to the Ripoff Report but, after being sued, later asked to have it removed–a request denied by the Ripoff Report per its standard policy. The plaintiffs then added the Ripoff Report back into the lawsuit (the Ripoff Report had initially been dropped per 230), and the court granted an injunction requiring the Ripoff Report to remove the post despite 230.

This was a lawless ruling from a rogue judge, but fortunately the error has been fixed. Judge Adrien, who made the ruling, was not reelected to the bench, so the case was reassigned to Judge Butchko. She makes quick work of Judge Adrien’s mess, concluding “the cause of action of the Plaintiffs…against Xcentric for injunction relief is barred by the Communications Decency Act.” Thus, Ripoff Report is dismissed (again) from the case with prejudice and “shall go hence without day.” (I had to look up this odd idiom–apparently it reiterates that this is a final order. See the extensive discussion of the idiom here).

This doesn’t end the wrangling. Of course, the plaintiffs could appeal. Also, the ruling intimates that the Ripoff Report may be eligible to recover some of its expenses, so it’s possible the plaintiffs will be writing a check to the defense.

Assuming this ruling remains undisturbed, its net effect is that the plaintiffs have no way of legally forcing the removal of a Ripoff Report posting. For more on the implications of that resolution, see my writeup of the Blockowicz case.