Magistrate Gives RipOffReport Split Decision,
Still May Be Prosecuted
In January, Xcentric Ventures, LLC, operator of RipOffReport.com (“ROR”), filed a federal lawsuit in Iowa seeking to block further investigation of its activities by Sac County, Iowa District Attorney Ben Smith. Smith had indicted one ROR operative, Darren Meade, for witness tampering and other charges. ROR sought an injunction blocking Smith from further pursuing the investigation and last week a federal magistrate recommended granting the injunction in part.
The court rejected ROR’s claim of Section 230 immunity since
there is substantial evidence suggesting that the plaintiffs materially contributed to the alleged illegality of the information at issue.As noted above, there is an undisputed connection between Magedson and Meade concerning the Richter case, as they have participated in a “common cause” to free Richter. Xcentric made substantial payments to Meade during the period of time Meade was gathering information and posting complaints about the case, including complaints with titles that associate certain state’s witnesses with illegal and/or embarrassing conduct.
ROR attempts to argue that, although it paid Meade substantial sums it did not have any advance involvement. The court rejected claim, noting that it could not believe that ROR “was blissfully unaware of what Meade was planning to post.”
there is substantial evidence that Smith’s actions have been motivated, in large part, by statements made about him on Ripoff Report. Smith admits that he has worked over a thousand hours and has issued over one hundred subpoenas during his investigation into Ripoff Report. Smith presented no evidence that in his role of Sac County Attorney, he has devoted similar time and resources into other investigations of potential misdemeanor offenses. The finder of fact could easily determine that Smith is treating this investigation differently, and indeed obsessively, because he is angry and embarrassed by Ripoff Report posts that have criticized and ridiculed him.