The New York Supreme Court of New York County held that allegedly defamatory comments made about an anonymous blog article did not provide a basis for a defamation claim against the author of the non-defamatory article itself. [Greenbaum v. Google Inc.]
Plaintiff Greenbaum, an elected school board member, alleged defamation by an anonymous blog operator and sought disclosure of the blogger’s identity. The court held that Greenbaum’s defamation claim was without merit, denied Greenbaum’s request for discovery, and dismissed the case.
Greenbaum filed suit in response a blog article criticizing her position against public funding of private schools, specifically a sentence which read “Way to make it clear that you have no interest in helping the private school community.”
Responses to the article referred to Greenbaum as “a bigot.” Greenbaum alleged that the article was defamatory because it said she was “a bigot” and “an anti-semite.”
The court applied the standard set forth in a case we discussed, Dendrite Int’l Inc. v. Doe, 342 N.J. Super 134 (2001), where the court held that courts must give anonymous speakers notice of a discovery application requesting their identity and an opportunity to be heard in opposition.
The court held that the plaintiff’s claims were too insubstantial to entitle the plaintiff to discovery of the anonymous blogger’s identity.