Courthouse News reports:
After the Sun-Sentinel newspaper published an article under the headline, “Officer accused of sending nude photos of ex-lover,” several people posted defamatory, pseudonymous statements about the officer on the newspaper’s Internet message board, the policeman says. Pembroke Pines police Officer Daniel Rakofsky wants the newspaper to tell him who those people are.
Rakofsky sued the Sun-Sentinel and its corporate parent, the Tribune Co., in a pure bill for discovery in Broward County Court.
The article in question was published on November 5, 2009, and although the article does not appear to be retrievable on the SunSentinel.com web site, a copy of the article is available on their mobile news.
The complaint (pdf) indicates that Rakofsky seeks discovery and without that discovery, he would be unable to determine who might be sued, for what causes of action, and under what legal theories. Not addressed in the complaint is why Rakofsky cannot file a lawsuit against John Does and then if his complaint is likely to prevail in a suit, the court could order the papers to reveal the information. What Rakofsky seems to be doing, to this untrained nonlawyer’s eye, is to take an approach similar to what Liskula Cohen took with the Skanks of NYC blog case. In that case, the court ordered the unmasking of the blogger and then Cohen indicated she would not sue. Rakofsky’s attorney argues that if
the discovery produced indicates that the lawsuit would be groundless or frivolous, this would serve “the court[‘s] as well as the parties best interests and advantage.”
I hope that the court does not grant their request. In my opinion, Rakofsky should be required to first demonstrate that there is a significant likelihood of prevailing in a defamation suit and then he can get the information on identities.