More libel-related bullshittery happening on the internet. And, again, Eugene Volokh is on top of it. Between him, Paul Levy of Public Citizen, and Pissed Consumer, we've seen a huge amount of shady-to-completely-fraudulent behavior by lawyers and rep management firms exposed. This is more of the same, although it doesn't appear anyone in the SEO business was involved.
Jordan Wirsz is an investment manager with a problem. He's previously gotten in trouble with state regulators for running investment schemes without a license. It's not a huge problem, but it's enough to make people think twice before trusting him with their money.
Faced with state regulator decisions cluttering up his search results, Wirsz has apparently opted to make his Google searches even less flattering. He took a commenter named "Richard" to court, alleging defamation based on the contents of comments "Richard" posted to sites like RipoffReport. He won a default judgment, which conveniently contained several URLs not linked to "Richard" or the alleged libel.
The list of URLs included, in the middle, three official Arizona government documents, which of course couldn’t have been posted by any “Richard”; their author isn’t an anonymous commenter, but rather the Arizona Corporation Commission, which Wirsz did not sue. Unsurprisingly, the material in the order is based on Phillips’s application for default judgment, which said that “Defendant posted” various statements, and that “such statements and similar statements have been posted at” various links, including the azcc.gov links — even though the azcc.gov links are actually quite different criticisms of Wirsz, which are not libelous and which are unrelated to “Richard.”
And that's not all. The default judgment a judge agreed to includes other URLs not related to "Richard" and his supposed libel.
Some of the other URLs in the default judgment (and the takedown request) were Scribd.com copies of various documents in this very case, such as an earlier court order granting a preliminary injunction against “Robert,” which were uploaded to Scribd by RipOffReport… Some other URLs pointed to other Scribd documents uploaded to RipOffReport that didn’t even mention Wirsz, except that Scribd’s other-recommended-document list at the bottom of the pages mentioned one of the Wirsz orders.
Volokh wasn't able to get anyone involved to comment on the court order. Wirsz is now represented by a different lawyer -- not the Brandon Phillips who obtained the court order, nor the Brian Dziminski who served the order to Google. Obviously, Wirsz hoped Google was as inattentive as the judge signing the order, but it appears Google didn't comply with the court order's demands it delist government agency URLs.
This bogus scrubbing of search results continues, but is certainly becoming much less of a sure thing than it used to be. One rep management company engaging in fraudulent libel lawsuit tactics is paying out $70,000 and may be out even more once the US Attorney's Office is done with it. Another rep management firm is facing two legal actions over its fraud on the court for the same bogus lawsuit v. bogus defendant tactics. With Google paying more attention to incoming court orders, the law of diminishing returns has finally been enacted.