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Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 1 Date Filed: 10/21/2010

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS


FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

NO. 10-3352

ARTHUR ALAN WOLK, ESQUIRE

Appellant,

V.

WALTER K. OLSON, THEODORE H. FRANK, ESQUIRE,


DAVID M. NIEPORENT, ESQUIRE, THE OVERLAWYERED GROUP
AND OVERLAWYERED.COM

Appellees.

On Appeal from the United States District Court


For the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:09-CV-4001

DEFENDANT-APPELLEES' RESPONSE IN OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF-


APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION TO PENNSYLVANIA
SUPREME COURT ON QUESTIONS OF STATE LAW

WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP CENTER FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS


Michael N. Onufrak, Esquire Michael E. Rosman, Esquire
Siobhan K. Cole, Esquire 1233 20th Street, NW
1650 Market Street, Suite 1800 Suite 300
One Liberty Place Washington, D.C. 20036
Philadelphia, PA 19103-7395

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I. INTRODUCTION
On April 8, 2007, Defendant-Appellee Theodore H. Frank ("Frank") posted

an article (the "Frank Article") on the weblog Overlawyered.com , containing the

following discussion of the district court decisions in Wolk v. Teledyne Ind., Inc.,

475 F. Supp. 2d 491 (E.D. Pa. 2007) and Taylor v. Teledyne Tech., Inc., 338 F.

Supp. 2d 1323 (N.D. Ga. 2004):

Arthur Alan Wolk v. Teledyne Industries, Inc.


Judge writes scathing opinion about attorney; opponent
attorney mails opinion to client; losing attorney sues
other attorney for defamation. No dice, but even this
ludicrous suit does not result in sanctions.
[Beck/Herrmann]

Beck and Herrmann miss, however, an especially


interesting subplot. Wolk settled the underlying case,
Taylor v. Teledyne, No. CIV.A.1:00-CV-1741-J (N.D.
Ga.), on the condition that the order criticizing him be
vacated. Did Wolk's client suffer from a reduced
settlement so that his attorney could avoid having the
order used against him in other litigation? (The discovery
violation complained about was apparently a repeat
occurrence.) The district court permitted a settlement that
vacated the order, but its only reported inquiry into
whether Wolk did not suffer from a conflict of interest
and was adequately protecting his client's rights was
Wolk's representation to the court that the client was
alright with the size of the settlement. That begs the
question whether the client was fully aware of the
conflict of interest; if, as seems to be the case, the N.D.
Ga. failed to do so, one really wishes courts would do
more to protect fiduciaries of plaintiffs' attorneys before
signing off on settlements. 338 F.Supp.2d 1323, 1327
(N.D. Ga. 2004), aff'd in unpublished summary per

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curiam opinion (11th Cir., Jun. 17, 2005) (App 000034,


45).

The Frank Article criticizing the Northern District of Georgia's procedure

said nothing about Mr. Wolk that had not already been published in the 2004

district court opinion in Taylor:

As to the second matter, the Court expressed concern that


a settlement of the case for less than its value to plaintiffs
not occur simply to allow Mr. Wolk to be rid of an order
that was critical of him. As to this inquiry, plaintiffs'
counsel assured the Court that plaintiffs were aware
generally of what was about to transpire and were in
agreement; further, counsel indicated that plaintiffs
would be receiving a large settlement with which they
were apparently well satisfied.

Taylor, 338 F. Supp. 2d at 1327.

Over two years after the Frank Article was published, Plaintiff-Appellant

Arthur Alan Wolk, ("Appellant" or "Wolk"), instituted this case in the Court of

Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, on May 13, 2009, claiming that Defendant-

Appellees, in their varying capacities as contributing authors, editors and managers

of the legal weblog Overlawyered.com , defamed Wolk and intentionally interfered

with his prospective contractual relations. (App Vol. II, Tab 2, 000037-000042,

Complaint pp. 14-19). 1 Defendant-Appellees removed the case to the Eastern

District of Pennsylvania and thereafter moved to dismiss Wolk's claims pursuant

I For the Court's convenience, a copy of Plaintiff-Appellant's Complaint is attached hereto as Exhibit "A."
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to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because they were time barred and further, failed to

state cognizable claims because the Frank Article lacks defamatory meaning.

After full briefing and argument, the District Court, Honorable Mary A.

McLaughlin, found that all of Wolk's claims are barred by Pennsylvania's one year

statute of limitations for defamation claims, and rejected Wolk's arguments that

Pennsylvania's discovery rule applied to his mass-media defamation case. (App

Vol. 1, Tab "C," pp. 3-8, Memo. pp. 3-8). 2 Thus, the District Court dismissed

Wolk's case without reaching the lack of defamatory meaning issue. (App Vol 1,

Tab `B").

Wolk now appeals the District Court's dismissal and concurrently requests

that this Court certify a two-part inquiry to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. As is

fully discussed below, however, Wolk's Motion for Certification should be denied

because (1) the questions posed do not control the outcome of the case, and (2)

according to its own Internal Operating Procedures, the Pennsylvania Supreme

Court will not certify questions that already were decided by this Court. 3d Cir.

L.A.R. 110.0 (2008); 210 Pa. Code § 63.10(B)(4).

In addition, even if Wolk's motion were procedurally correct, a petition to

the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would still be unnecessary and wasteful of

judicial resources because the questions raised are not so novel as to preclude this

2 A copy of the District Court's Memorandum is also attached hereto for the Court's convenience as Exhibit `B."
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Court's ability to predict the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's answers thereto, nor

are they the subject of conflicting decisions in other courts. See, Drozdowski v.

Callahan, No. 07-CV-01233-JF, 2008 WL 375110 at *1 (E.D. Pa. 2008, Feb. 12,

2008), Barrett v. Catacombs Press, 64 F. Supp. 2d 440, 444 (E.D. Pa. 1999),

Bradford v. American Media Operations, Inc., 882 F. Supp. 1508, 1519 (E.D. Pa.

1995) (each holding the discovery rule inapplicable to mass-media defamation

claims). Therefore, Defendant-Appellees respectfully request that this Court deny

Plaintiff-Appellant's Motion for Certification.

II. STANDARD FOR CERTIFICATION


Plaintiff-Appellant's Motion also fails to satisfy the Pennsylvania Supreme

Court's requirement that the question of law presented must not have been

previously decided by the petitioning court. Pursuant to 210 Pa. Code §

63.10(B)(4), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, "shall not accept certification unless

all facts material to the question of law to be determined are undisputed, and the

question of law is one that the petitioning court has not previously decided." 210

Pa. Code § 63.10(B)(4). (Emphasis added).

As is more fully discussed below, this Court already decided, in Palmer v.

City of Harrisburg, 276 F.App'x 105, 2008 WL 1838632 (3d Cir. 2008), that

Pennsylvania's discovery rule did not apply to toll the statute of limitations

applicable to a defamation claim where the allegedly defamatory statements were

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published in a newspaper, and thereby immediately ascertainable, more than one

year before suit was initiated. Therefore, pursuant to 210 Pa. Code § 63.10(B)(4),

the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cannot accept a petition from this Court to answer

that same question.

III. QUESTIONS FOR CERTIFICATION


Plaintiff-Appellant's Motion asks this Court to petition the Pennsylvania

Supreme Court for certification of two questions that deviate significantly from the

concise question of law decided by the District Court. As stated by the District

Court in its August 2, 2010 Memorandum, "the issue before the [District] Court

[was] whether the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would apply the discovery rule to

toll the statute of limitations in a mass-media defamation case." (App Vol. 1, Tab

"C," p. 1, Memo. p. 1).

By contrast, Appellant's Motion for Certification asks this Court to present

the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with the following two, fact-specific questions:

"Does Pennsylvania exempt defamatory statements made on an


internet blog from the tolling principles of the "discovery rule"
under Pennsylvania's statute of limitations through a mass
media exception which would impute absolute knowledge of
the internet to a defamation victim?" And,

2. "If such a mass media exception for internet defamation exists,


would Pennsylvania law apply it in this instance of
unscrupulous misuse of the internet through an obscure blog
which caters to a small niche of special interest subscribers, but
is searchable through internet search engines?" (P1-Appint.
Motion § III).

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Because these questions posed by Appellant are imprecise mixtures of

never-before-pled fact and law, which vary significantly from the issue articulated

by the District Court, Defendant-Appellees respectfully submit that the only

question this Court should consider in its analysis of Appellant's Motion for

Certification is the precise issue identified by the District Court. Specifically,

"whether the Pennsylvania Supreme court would apply the discovery rule to toll

the statute of limitations in a mass-media defamation case?" (App Vol. 1, Tab "C,"

p. 1, Memo. p. 1).

IV. ARGUMENT IN OPPOSITION TO CERTIFICATION


A. THE QUESTIONS RAISED BY APPELLANT DO NOT
CONTROL THE OUTCOME OF THIS CASE
Appellant's request for certification to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

should be denied because neither of the questions raised control the outcome of

this case. Pursuant to 3d Cir. L.A.R. 110.0 this Court may petition the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court to certify "questions arising under the laws of

[Pennsylvania] which will control the outcome of a case pending in federal court."

(Emphasis added).

Appellant filed this case alleging defamation, false light and intentional

interference with prospective contractual relations. (App Vol. II, Tab 2, 000037-

000042, Complaint pp. 14-19). Defendant-Appellees moved for dismissal of

Appellant's Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),

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because all claims therein are barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and

also because the Frank Article lacks defamatory meaning. (App Vol. II, Tab 3,

000190-000203).

Appellant argued in response that Pennsylvania's discovery rule applied to

toll the statute of limitations on his defamation claims until he actually

"discovered" the offending post, two years after it was published to the internet.

(App Vol. III, Tab 4, 000364-000401).

The District Court disagreed with Appellant and dismissed his claims as

untimely without reaching the defamatory meaning question. (App Vol 1, Tab

`B"). Specifically, Judge McLaughlin held that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

would not apply the discovery rule to toll the statute of limitations in a mass-media

defamation case, and therefore Appellant's claims were time barred. (App Vol. 1,

Tab "C," pp. 3-8, Memo. pp. 3-8).

Appellant immediately appealed Judge McLaughlin's decision, and now

asks this Court to certify two questions regarding the applicability of

Pennsylvania's discovery rule to mass-media defamation cases. (Pi-Appint. Motion

§ III). What Appellant's request neglects to consider, however, is that in order for

certification to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to be proper, the question posed

must control the outcome of the case pending before this Court.

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Here, Defendant- Appellees' are not limited in their request for affirmance

to the statute of limitations ground. See, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company v.

Cosenza, 258 F.3d 197, 205 (3d Cir. 2001) (agreeing with the proposition that this

Court may affirm the District Court on any basis which finds support in the

record), and Sinclair v. Soniform, 935 F.2d 599, 603-604 (3d Cir. 1991) (holding it

"true that [the Circuit Court] can affirm the disposition of the district court on any

grounds raised before that court.")

Accordingly, Defendant-Appellees' Brief, which is not yet due, will ask this

Court to affirm the District Court's dismissal of Wolk's claims on both the statute

of limitations and lack of defamatory meaning grounds, because the Frank Article

is protected opinion on a matter of public concern. Therefore, the discovery rule

question decided by the District Court, which Appellant believes should now be

certified to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, need not control this Court's decision

of the case, and should not be certified to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

B. THE PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT WILL NOT


ACCEPT CERTIFICATION OF APPELANT'S QUESTION
BECAUSE IT PREVIOUSLY WAS DECIDED BY THE
PETITIONING COURT
It is futile for this Court to petition the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for

certification of Appellant's question because pursuant to 210 Pa. Code §

63.10(B)(4), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cannot accept it. Section 63.10

governs the procedure by which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court can certify

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questions arising under the laws of that state, which control the outcome of a case

pending in federal court. Section 63.1 O(B)(4) provides, "[t]his Court shall not

accept certification unless all facts material to the question of law to be determined

are undisputed, and the question of law is one that the petitioning court has not

previously decided." (Emphasis added).

As explained above, the only question this Court should even consider for

certification is whether Pennsylvania's discovery rule applies to toll the statute of

limitations in cases involving allegedly defamatory statements published in a mass-

media outlet. However, that question already was decided by this Court in Palmer

v. City of Harrisburg, 276 F.App'x 105, 2008 WL 1838632 (3d Cir. 2008) (per

curiam), which now precludes the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from certifying it

upon petition from this Court.

In Palmer, a state prisoner filed a civil rights action against the City of

Harrisburg, alleging a violation of his constitutional rights in connection with the

search and seizure of his vehicle, and also alleged common law causes of action

including defamation due to the publication of information regarding the seizure of

his vehicle in the Patriot-News. Palmer, 276 F. App'x. at 106. On appeal, this

Court affirmed the District Court's 12(b)(6) dismissal of Palmer's common law

claim of defamation, finding it barred by the applicable one-year statute of

limitations. Id. at 109.

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In affirming the District Court, the Palmer Court stated, "Palmer was not

entitled to rely on the discovery rule. The discovery rule was adopted by

Pennsylvania courts in recognition of the fact that some injuries are not

immediately apparent. The discovery rule applies in cases where the injured party

is unable to know that he is injured and to know what caused the injury, despite the

exercise of reasonable diligence." Id. at 107 (citing the Pennsylvania Supreme

Court's decision in Fine v. Checcio, 582 Pa. 253, 870 A.2d 850, 858 (2005)), See

also, Fine, 582 Pa. at 266. ("The purpose of the discovery rule has been to exclude

from the running the statute of limitations that period of time during which a party

who has not suffered an immediately ascertainable injury is reasonably unaware he

has been injured.").

The Palmer Court went on to explain that, "the standard of reasonable

diligence is an objective one and turns on the nature of the injury and whether it is

latent, and does not turn on `any specific characteristics unique to the plaintiff that

might otherwise prevent him from recognizing his injury as a cause of action." Id.

(quoting Lake v. Arnold, 232 F.3d 360, 367 (3d Cir. 2000)).

The Palmer Court then held that Palmer's "alleged injuries and the causes

thereof were immediately ascertainable [and] [t]hus, the discovery rule did not

apply in Palmer's case." Id. at 108. Although the Palmer Court did not explicitly

state that Palmer's injuries were immediately ascertainable because they were

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published in a mass media publication, a review of the entirety of the Court's

decision makes clear that it was based upon the manner in which the statements

were published. The Court went on to state that, "the fact that Palmer did not

know that he might have a valid cause of action was not relevant." Id. at 107.3

Here, just as in Palmer, the statements upon which Appellant bases his

defamation claims were published in a mass-media outlet more than one year

before Appellant initiated suit. Appellant argues, however, that he did not discover

the allegedly defamatory statements until two years after they were published, and

therefore the discovery rule should apply to toll the statute of limitations. This is

precisely the issue decided by the Palmer Court, which now precludes the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court from certifying Appellant's question.

Furthermore, Pa Code Section 63.10(B)(4) also provides that, "[t]his Court

shall not accept certification unless all facts material to the question of law to be

determined are undisputed." (Emphasis added). Although Appellant is correct

that numerous disputed issues of fact alleged by Appellant had to be taken as true

for purposes of Defendant-Appellees' Motion to dismiss, what this Court need not

accept as true are the never-before-pled facts Appellant now injects into his Motion

' Although Wolk seeks to distinguish the Internet from other forms of mass media,
(P1-Appint Motion at p. 10), the differences actually make the Internet less
appropriate for the application of the discovery rule. There are no search engines
covering the complete content of all periodicals or books on the shelves of all
bookstores.
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for Certification, which interestingly, only serve to undermine the propriety of his

request.

For example, up until this point all of Plaintiff-Appellant's factual

statements regarding Overlawyered.com have described it as a "popular and widely

read website" (App Vol. II, Tab 2, 000025, Complaint ¶ 2) that, "[s]ince its

inception ... has attracted a huge following that not only includes tens of thousands

of lawyers from every state in this Country, but also includes persons from other

professions, such as doctors, and a large overseas following." (App Vol. II, Tab 2,

000025, 000028, Complaint ¶¶ 2, 22). Plaintiff-Appellant further submitted that he

"has been a favorite target of criticism and ridicule from Overlawyered.com " (App

Vol. II, Tab 2, 000029, Complaint ¶ 25), and that "potential clients had

viewed.. .the Frank Article. ..and decided not to engage Wolk as an

attorney... solely on the basis of the Frank Article and the false statements made

therein." (App Vol. II, Tab 2, 000037, Complaint ¶ 50). In fact Plaintiff-

Appellant's false light count states, "[t]he Frank Article was dissemianted [sic] by

the Defendants and communicated to the public at large, and it was received by so

many persons that the matter must be regarded as public knowledge." (App Vol. II,

Tab 2, 000039, Complaint ¶ 63).

Notwithstanding these "facts" that must be considered true for purposes of

Defendant-Appellees' Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff-Appellant now claims that the

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court must decide whether Pennsylvania's discovery rule

tolls the statute of limitations for defamation claims based upon statements

published "through an obscure blog which caters to a small niche of special interest

subscribers." (Pi-Appint Motion § III).

Plaintiff-Appellant never alleged these "facts" in the lower court and never

moved to amend his complaint. Accordingly, this Court must ignore these new

"facts" and any argument based upon them. (Similarly, this Court must ignore

Plaintiff-Appellant's assertion that "since this lawsuit was filed, Defendants have

manipulated search engine tools to place their defamatory blog at the beginning of

search engine rankings," (Pl-Appint Motion p. 6), an absurd contention that

appears nowhere in the record below). This provides yet another reason why

certification to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should be denied.

C. PROPERLY POSED, THE QUESTION OF LAW AT ISSUE IS


NOT SO NOVEL AS TO PRECLUDE THIS COURT'S
ABILITY TO PREDICT THE PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME
COURT'S ANSWER THERETO.
Notwithstanding all of the above, this Court should deny Plaintiff-

Appellant's Motion for Certification because this Court is fully capable of

interpreting the substantial amount of guidance issued by the Pennsylvania

Supreme Court regarding Pennsylvania's discovery rule and confidently

predicting, as the District Court did, that it does not apply to toll the statute of

limitations in a mass-media defamation case.

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By way of example, a review of established law regarding Pennsylvania

statutes of limitation and the discovery rule, including the very cases upon which

Appellant's appeal relies, reveals the following undisputed direction from the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

First, it is well established in Pennsylvania that statutes of limitation serve an

important purpose and are to be strictly construed. See, Gustine Uniontown

Assocs., Ltd. v.Anthony Crane Rental, Inc., 577 Pa. 14, 33, 842 A.2d 334, 346

(2004).

Second, Pennsylvania has adopted the Uniform Single Publication Act by

statute. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8341(b) (2007)

No person shall have more than one cause of action for


damages for libel or slander or invasion of privacy, or
any other tort founded upon any single publication, or
exhibition, or utterance, such as any one edition of a
newspaper, or book, or magazine, or any one presentation
to an audience, or any one broadcast over radio or
television, or any one exhibition of a motion picture.

As the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania explained in Graham v. Today's

Spirit, the single publication rule was to prevent the statute of limitations from

being rendered "meaningless in that an action could be filed any time a defamatory

article was read, no matter what the time lag between the actual printing of the

article and the reading of the article by a third party." 503 Pa. 52, 468 A.2d 454,

457 (1983). Accepting Wolk's discovery rule argument would undermine this

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important purpose of the Single Publication Rule as articulated by the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court (as would accepting his alternate suggestion, (Pl-

Appint Motion at p. 9,10) that a posting on the Internet is republished every time it

is seen).

Third, as noted by the District Court, Pennsylvania law is clear that "the

discovery rule is a narrow exception to an otherwise strict limitations standard.

For example, Pennsylvania does not toll the statute of limitations for a plaintiff

who fails to discover a cause of action due to incarceration or insanity. 42 Pa.

Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5533(a) (2010). Likewise, ignorance, mistake or

misunderstanding will not toll the statute, even though a plaintiff may not discover

an injury until it is too late. See Pocono Int'l Raceway, Inc., v. Pocono Produce,

Inc., 468 A.2d 468, 471 (Pa. 1983)." (App Vol. 1, Tab "C," p. 5, Memo. p. 5).

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has also stated that the discovery

rule should be employed only for "worthy cases" and "cannot be applied so loosely

as to nullify the purpose for which a statute of limitations exists." Dalrymple v.

Brown, 701 A.2d 164, 167 (Pa. 1997).

Furthermore, as was also noted by the District Court, even the cases

Appellant relies upon for his argument in favor of application of the discovery

rule, taken in totality, stand for the proposition that not all cases are worthy of the

discovery rule. (App Vol. 1, Tab "C," p. 6). In Fine v. Checcio, the Pennsylvania

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Supreme Court clearly stated that the purpose of the discovery rule is to toll the

statute of limitations when a party suffered an injury that is not immediately

ascertainable. Fine, 582 Pa. at 266. The Fine Court further explained that, "the

salient point giving rise to [the discovery rule's] application is the inability of the

injured, despite the exercise of reasonable diligence, to know that he is injured and

by what cause." Id. at 267 (citing Pocono International Raceway, Inc., v. Pocono

Produce, Inc., 503 Pa. 80, 468 A.2d 468, 471 (1983)). "Put another way, the

question in any given case is not, what did the plaintiff know of the injury done

him? But, what might he have known, by the use of the means of information

within his reach, with the vigilance the law requires of him? While reasonable

diligence is an objective test, it is sufficiently flexible to take into account the

differences between persons and their capacity to meet certain situations and the

circumstances confronting them at the time in question." (citing Scranton Gas &

Water Co. v. Lackawanna Iron & Coal Co., 167 Pa. 136, 31 A. 484, 485 (1895),

and Crouse v. Cyclops Industries, 560 Pa. 394, 745 A.2d 606, 611 (2000) (internal

quotations omitted).

Following Fine, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court provided even further

guidance on the applicability of the discovery rule in Wilson v. El-Daief, 964 A.2d

354 (Pa. 2009). Interpreting Fine, the Wilson Court stated, "[i]n certain cases

involving latent injury, and/or instances in which the causal connection between an

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injury and another's conduct is not apparent, the discovery rule may operate to toll

the statute of limitations until the plaintiff discovers, or reasonably should

discover, that she has been injured and that her injury has been caused by another

party's conduct." Id. at 361-362 (citing Fine v. Checcio, 582 Pa. 253, 268, 870

A.2d 850, 859 (2005) (emphasis added)).

Recognizing that as the discovery rule evolved, some ambiguities arose, the

Wilson Court further clarified that despite the fact that some prior cases applied an

"all-vigilance" requirement to parties claiming protection under the discovery rule,

that most cases apply a reasonable-diligence requirement, as articulated in Fine,

and that reasonable diligence is the appropriate formulation. Id. at 363. Finally,

quoting Cochran v. GAF Corp.,542 Pa. 210, 216, 666 A.2d 245, 248 (1995), the

Wilson Court noted, " `We have not hesitated to find as a matter of law that a party

has not used reasonable diligence in ascertaining the cause of an injury thus barring

the party from asserting their claim under the discovery rule.' The party relying on

the discovery rule bears the burden of proof." Id. at 362.

Given all of the above instruction from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on

the application of the discovery rule, it is hard to lend weight to Appellant's

argument that his case cannot be decided by this Court. While it may be true that

the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not issued an opinion explicitly stating

whether or not the discovery rule applies to a mass media defamation case, the

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Fine and Wilson decisions both stand for the proposition that this Court can find,

as a matter of law, that Appellant's alleged injury was immediately ascertainable

upon publication and not entitled to protection from the discovery rule. Therefore,

it is not essential for disposition of this case that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

decide whether the discovery rule ever applies to a mass media defamation case.

Further, even if the discovery rule's application to mass-media defamation

cases was a controlling question, this Court has the right and ability to predict the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court's answer thereto, just as the court did in Palmer v.

City of Harrisburg, 276 F.App'x. 105, 2008 WL 1838632 (3d Cir. 2008). See also,

Amvest v, Anderson Equipment Company, 358 F. App'x. 344, 347 (3d Cir. 2009)

(interpreting the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decisions in Fine v. Checcio and.

Wilson v. El-Daief, and determining that Pennsylvania's discovery rule did not

apply to toll the statute of limitations in a buyer's action asserting claims of

negligence, breach of express warranty, and strict liability until the cause of a truck

fire was determined.).

V. CONCLUSION
Certification to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of the questions raised by

Appellant is inappropriate and unnecessary pursuant to the rules of this Court, the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and established case law. Furthermore, certification

of Appellant's questions would only serve to waste the resources of both courts,

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because even if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court were to hold the discovery rule is

applicable to mass-media defamation cases, this Court would still have to decide

(a) whether it is applicable to Wolk's case, and (b) whether Wolk's claims are

separately barred by the First Amendment. Therefore, Defendant-Appellees

respectfully request that this Court deny Appellant's Motion for Certification to the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Respectfully Submitted,
WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP
Dated: October 21, 2010
By: /s/ Michael N. Onufrak
Michael N. Onufrak, Esquire
Siobhan K. Cole, Esquire
1650 Market Street
One Liberty Place, Suite 1800
Philadelphia, PA 19103-7395

CENTER FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS

By: /s/ Michael E. Rosman


Michael E. Rosman, Esquire
Michelle A. Scoot, Esquire
1233 20th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20036

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I, Michael N. Onufrak, hereby certify that on October 21, 2010, I served the

foregoing Response in Opposition to Appellant's Motion for Certification to the

Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Questions of State Law, to the following persons,

who are filing users of the court's electronic filing system and are thus being

served with the Court's Notice of Docket Activity:

George Bochetto, Esquire


David P. Heim, Esquire
Bochetto & Lentz, P.C.
1524 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Bradley J. Stoll, Esquire


The Wolk Law Firm
1710-12 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

BY: /s/Michael N. Onufrak


Michael N. Onufrak

6837733v.2
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EXHIBIT "A"
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 23 Date Filed: 10/21/2010

SPECTOR GADON & ROSEN, P.C.


By: Paul R. Rosen, Esquire
Attorney I.D. No. 13396
prosen@lawsgr.com
By: Andrew J. DeFalco, Esquire
Attorney I.D. No. 84360
adefalco@lawsgr.com
Seven Penn Center Plaza
1635 Market Street, 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 241-8888

ARTHUR ALAN WOLK, ESQUIRE :


CIVIL ACTION — LAW
Plaintiff
vs. MAY TERM, 2009

WALTER K. OLSON, ESQUIRE NO.: 1489


THEODORE H. FRANK, ESQUIRE
DAVID M. NIEPORENT, ESQUIRE JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
THE OVERLAWYERED GROUP
And OVERLAWYERED.COM

Defendants

COMPLAINT — CIVIL ACTION


DEFAMATION, LIBEL AND SLANDER — 2L

Plaintiff Arthur Alan Wolk, Esquire ('Wolk" or "Plaintiff'), by and through his

attorneys, Paul R. Rosen, Esquire, Andrew J. DeFalco, Esquire and Spector Gadon &

Rosen, P.C., hereby files this Complaint, and in support thereof, avers the following:

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania places

reputational interests on the "highest plane," the same level as those interests pertaining

to life, liberty and property. In Pennsylvania, the right of any person to the protection of

his own reputation from unjustified invasion and wrongful hurt reflects Pennsylvania's

basic concept of the essential dignity and worth of every human being.

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2. In violation of these fundamental principles, the individual Defendants,

Walter K. Olson, Esquire ("Olson"), Theodore H. Frank, Esquire ("Frank"), and David

Nieporent, Esquire ("Nieporent"), who are themselves lawyers, and their entity,

"Overlawyered.com," which is funded by trade organizations representing the aircraft

industry and dedicated to permitting aircraft manufacturers to avoid liability for defective

and unsafe products, intentionally and maliciously posted a defamatory article on their

popular and widely read website, Overlawyered.com , which falsely accused the Plaintiff,

a world-renowned attorney, of selling-out his client in obtaining a settlement, for his own

personal benefit, at the expense and to the dertiment of his client. In addition to being

outrageously false, an accusation of selling out a client in such a manner, on a website

that is read daily by tens of thousands of lawyers and potential clients, is just about the

worst thing that can be said about an attorney, and was intended to, and did, have the

effect of damaging Wolk's reputation in the legal community in Philadelphia and beyond.

3. Accordingly, Wolk seeks damages from the Defendants under theories of

defamation and false-light invasion of privacy.

THE PARTIES

4. The Plaintiff, Wolk, is an individual, citizen and resident of the

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and an attorney licensed to practice law in the

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Wolk has a business address located at 1710-12 Locust

Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

5. Defendant Walter K. Olson, Esquire is an individual, citizen and resident

of the State of New York, with an address located at 875 King Street, Chappaqua, New

York 10514-3430.

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6. Defendant Theodore H. Frank, Esquire is an individual, citizen and

resident of the State of Virginia, with an address located at 901 North Monroe Street,

Apartment 1007, Arlington, Virginia 22201-2353.

7. Defendant David M. Nieporent, Esquire, is an individual, citizen and

resident of the State of New Jersey, with an address located at 155 Tillotson Road,

Fanwood, New Jersey 07023.

8. Defendant The Overlawyered Group is a New York business entity with

its home office and principal place of business located at 875 King Street, Chappaqua,

New York 10514-3430.

9. Defendant Overlawyered.com is a California business entity with its home

office and principal place of business located at318 State Street, Santa Barbara,

California 93101-2361.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

10. Subject matter jurisdiction over the Defendants with respect to these

claims and causes of action is conferred upon this Court pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 931

and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8341 et seq.

11. This Court has personal jurisdiction over the Defendants under 42 Pa.C.S.

§ 5322 (a) - (b), because the Defendants, jointly and severally, do business in this

Commonwealth, committed intentional torts against the Defendant, a Philadelphia

resident, where the brunt of the harm was felt by the Plaintiff in Philadelphia, and the

Defendants expressly aimed their tortious conduct at Pennsylvania such that

Pennsylvania is the focal point of the tortious activity.

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12. Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil

Procedure 1006 (a), because Plaintiff's offices are headquartered in Philadelphia County,

and the conduct at issue resulted in damages here in Philadelphia County.

FACTS

A. The Plaintiff

13. Wolk is perhaps the most prominent aviation attorney in the United States

of America. Wolk has practiced aviation law for over 35 years. During the last decade

alone, Wolk has generated almost $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for injured

victims of aircraft-related occurrences.

14. For over 30 years, Wolk has been an aircraft pilot, and holds the Federal

Aviation Administration's highest pilot's certificate — Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) — for

multi-engine land engine and sea aircraft, and single-engine land and sea airplanes.

15. Wolk is also the past editor of Lawyer Pilots Bar Association Journal and

the past legal editor for Business and Commercial Aviation Magazine. Wolk is regularly

quoted and consulted by aviation writers, is a frequent contributor to The Aviation

Consumer, Aviation Safety, and other aviation publications, and has appeared as an on-

air aviation expert for ABC's "Nightline", the CBS Evening News, NBC, CNN, the BBC

and numerous other television and radio stations around the world.

16. Wolk is nationally known to be a zealous advocate for his clients, one who

will go to the ends of the earth to secure for them a just result in litigation. While

accusations come and go in the legal profession, Wolk has never been accused of failing

to zealously represent any client, or selling out his client to benefit himself financially.

Such an accusation, to a lawyer practicing in Wolk's area of specialty, would have an

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enormous negative impact, as trust between an attorney and client, and a belief that an

attorney will zealously represent the client, is particularly essential to Wolk's practice.

B. Overlawyered.com

17. In 1999, the "Overlawyered.com" website was created. The

Overlawyered.com website describes itself as "the oldest law blog."

18. Olson, a licensed attorney, founded Overlawyered.com , and is its

predominant contributor and editor. Olson has been, and remains, a Senior Fellow at the

Manhattan Institute, and is the author of several books critical of the United States

litigation system.

19. Frank is also a licensed attorney, and was formerly a practicing attorney

associated with O'Melveny and Myers, one of the largest and most prominent law firms

in the United States. Frank has regularly contributed to Overlawyered.com since 2003.

At all times material, Frank has been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise

Institute, and the director of the American Enterprise Institute Legal Center.

20. Neiporent is a practicing attorney in the State of New Jersey, and has been

a regular contributor to Overlawyered.com during the relevant time period.

21. On the website, Overlawyered.com describes itself as follows:

Overlawyered.com explores an American legal system that


too often turns litigation into a weapon against guilty and
innocent alike, erodes individual responsibility, rewards
sharp practice, enriches its participants at the public's
expense, and resists even modest efforts at reform and
accountability.

22. Since its inception, Overlawyered.com has attracted a huge following that

not only includes tens of thousands of lawyers from every state in this Country, but also

includes persons from other professions, such as doctors, and a large overseas following.

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At one point, Olson boasted about his readership: "My readership has a large following

among lawyers, but I've been surprised to find that a lot of doctors are reading it, as are a

lot of people from other countries."

23. In fact, in an article written by Law.com, Olson advised that

Overlawyered.com is one of the most popular "blog" websites in the country, "regularly

surpassing 9,000 unique daily visitors."

24. Olson has also boasted that Overlawyered.com is #298 on the list of most

popular blog websites, and #4 on the list of most popular legal blogs. Further, Olson

boasts that even these figures vastly understate the actual readership of

Overlawyered.com because it has many RSS readers, and "several thousand people who

receive Overlawyered through mailing lists."

25. Wolk has been a favorite target of criticism and ridicule from

Overlawyered.com . For example, after Wolk secured a a $480 million verdict against

Cessna arising from an aircraft accident, a different website, AV Web, issued an article

critical of Wolk, for which AV Web eventually issued a retraction and apologized.

Notwithstanding, and despite AV Web's admission that its article was false,

Overlawyered.com and Olson posted a gratiuitous article ridiculing Wolk and criticizing

AV Web's retraction:

by Walter Olson on September 20, 2002

September 16-17 — Free speech & web litigation:


AVweb capitulates to defamation suit. Which reminds us
of an update we should have posted earlier: readers will
recall the defamation lawsuits filed last year by aviation
plaintiff's attorney Arthur Alan Wolk against two editors
and four subscribers of the aviation-news website AVweb,
all of whom had sharply criticized him after he won a $480
million verdict against Cessna(Sept. 7 and Oct. 12-14,

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2001). On July 19 the website rendered to Wolk a


thoroughly abject capitulation and apology in connection
with his agreement to drop his suit against it. Its statement
to readers (link now dead) includes a number of passages
which deserve to be read with great care by those to whom
the Internet still represents some sort of idealized sanctuary
for untrammeled discussion [italicized comments ours]:
"One of Mr. Wolk's complaints was that we did not
supervise our chat room to prevent libelous comments
about him being published by our subscribers. We have
corrected that. Another of Mr. Wolk's complaints was that
our characterizations instigated some of our subscribers to
libel him. We will no longer characterize matters in such a
way as to bring apparent discredit upon anyone." [The
consequences of such a formula for the future of hard-
hitting journalism can be imagined. And the mind reels at
what is involved in the task of avoiding all
characterizations which, whether or not libelous
themselves, might instigate others to commit that offense. --
ed.]

"While the defense of Mr. Wolk's lawsuit has been


expensive, he nonetheless has been gracious enough to
settle with us for a payment to charity. In fact, even in
settlement negotiations, when there was a demand for
money, it was always to be contributed to charity, none for
Mr. Wolk himself. He steadfastly insisted that his lawsuit
was not about money and we have come to believe him."
[Why would it be thought surprising that the aim of such a
lawsuit might be more to silence certain critics than to
obtain cash from them? -- ed.]

As we say, read the whole thing, which lays out at


considerable length Mr. Wolk's reasons for considering
himself libeled. AVweb then goes on to publish a sort of
protracted advertisement for Mr. Wolk's services, in the
form of tributes and testimonials from grateful clients he
has represented in litigation, as well as others. Also
included is the painfully self-abasing apology of one of the
reader-posters who found himself individually sued by the
powerful lawyer — outgunned in every way, and facing
who knows what sort of prolonged personal exposure to the
cost of litigation. Among the lessons many observers will
draw, we think, will be the old one: watch whato ^ u say
about lawyers. (DURABLE LINK)

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26. Thus, despite AV Web's admission that the facts it printed were

inaccurate, Overlawyered.com took it upon itself to criticize AV Web's retraction and

Wolk. This only demonstrates the animosity and malice directed towards Wolk by

Olson, Frank, Nieporent and Overlawyered.com .

27. At all times material, the Defendants in this case held themselves out, and

continue to hold themselves out, as being persons with superior knowledge and access to

information respecting problems with the practice of law in this Country, and unethical

practicioners of law in this Country. Therefore, any decision by the Defendants to brand

a legal practicioner as unethical or willing to sell-out his client is treated as true, even if

made out of personal animosity, ill-will, jealousy, bias or prejudice, and taken by the

recipient to imply the existence of undisclosed facts resulting in a purportedly informed

assessment by the Defendants.

28. Moreover, while the Defendants hold themselves out as being unbiased

"scholars" of the legal profession, in fact, the Defendants are employed by, and funded

by, organizations dedicated to reducing liability to victims for personal injuries,

including, but not limited to, the aircraft industry. Therefore, without actually disclosing

this to the public, in drafting and disseminating articles critical of attorneys who represent

victims, the Defendants' columns are merely shilling for aircraft companies and other

sources of funding under the guise of scholarly writing, and attempting to turn public

opinion against victims.

C. The Taylor Case

29. Beginning in 2000, Wolk's law firm represented the victim of an aircraft

accident in a case venued in the United States District Court for the Northern District of

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Georgia, captioned Taylor v. Teledyne Technologies, Inc., No. 00-cv-1741 (the "Taylor

Case").

30. After discovery disputes arose, the Trial Judge in the Taylor Case issued a

September 2002 discovery order critical of Wolk's conduct during discovery, even

though Wolk was not personally involved in any of the asserted conduct.

31. In 2003, the Trial Judge vacated the September 2002 discovery order, and

precluded all parties from publicizing the September 2002 order.

32. Thereafter, the Taylor Case settled for a sum that far exceeded the value

previously placed on the Taylor Case by a federal magistrate, and all attorneys in the

Taylor Case unanimously agreed that Wolk never committed any unprofessional,

unethical or wrongful conduct in the Taylor Case. Wolk did not, in fact, commit any

unprofessional, unethical or wrongful conduct in the Taylor case, but instead represented

his client zealously with an extrordinarily high degree of professionalism and dedication

worthy of his reputation.

33. Wolk then sued certain of the Defendants in the Taylor Case for

defamation in a case brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of

Pennsylvania, captioned Arthur Alan Wolk v. Teledyne Industries, Inc., No. 03-5693 (the

"Wolk Case").

34. The Wolk Case settled after it was mediated by a federal judge. As part

off the settlement, all attorneys in the Taylor Case unanimously agreed that Wolk never

committed any unprofessional or wrongful conduct in the Taylor Case.

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D. The Defamatory Frank Article

35. As discussed above, although they do not disclose the sources of their

funding or affiliations on the website, the Defendants, and their employers such as the

American Enterprise Instutute, are funded by aircraft engine manufacturers and other

organizations, and seek to turn public opinion against victims and those who represent

victims to save money for their patrons.

36. Wolk is perhaps the most prominent and important attorney who

represents victims of aircraft accidents, and is therefore a major target of the aircraft

industry. It benefits the aircraft manufacturers to attempt to besmirch Wolk's name, to

coerce clients not to seek Wolk's representation, because Wolk has been so successful in

obtaining compensation to injured victims.

37. In conjunction with this mission, on or about April 8, 2007, Defendant

Frank, writng for "Overlawyered.com ," wrote an article relating to the Wolk Case and the

Taylor Case (the "Frank Article"). Upon information and belief, Defendants Olson and

Nieporent edited and approved of this article.

38. After a brief reference to the Wolk Case, the Frank Article accused Wolk

of "selling out" his client in the Taylor Case, accepting a lesser settlement in the T_ aylor

Case for his client in order obtain future business from other clients and to avoid being

impaired by remarks regarding unprofessional conduct in the discovery order in the

Taylor Case (which was vacated), and violating his professional and ethical

responsibilities and duties. The text of the Frank Article is as follows:

Arthur Alan Wolk v. Teledyne Industries, Inc.

by Ted Frank on April 8, 2007

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Judge writes scathing opinion about attorney; opponent


attorney mails opinion to client; losing attorney sues other
attorney for defamation. No dice, but even this ludicrous
suit does not result in sanctions. [Beck/Herrmann]

Beck and Herrmann miss, however, an especially


interesting subplot. Wolk settled the underlying case,
Taylor v. Teledyne, No. CIV.A.1:00-CV-1741-J (N.D.
Ga.), on the condition that the order criticizing him be
vacated. Did Wolk's client suffer from a reduced settlement
so that his attorney could avoid having the order used
against him in other litigation? (The discovery violation
complained about was apparently a repeat occurrence.) The
district court permitted a settlement that vacated the order,
but its only reported inquiry into whether Wolk did not
suffer from a conflict of interest and was adequately
protecting his client's rights was Wolk's representation to
the court that the client was alright with the size of the
settlement. That begs the question whether the client was
fully aware of the conflict of interest; if, as seems to be the
case, the N.D. Ga. failed to do so, one really wishes courts
would do more to protect fiduciaries of plaintiffs' attorneys
before signing off on settlements. 338 F.Supp.2d 1323,
1327 (N.D. Ga. 2004), aff d in unpublished summary per
curiam opinion (11th Cir., Jun. 17, 2005).

We've earlier reported on Mr. Wolk for his lawsuits against


commenters at an aviation website that criticized him: Sep.
16-17, 2002. As the Taylor opinion notes, Wolk also
threatened to sue the federal judge in that case. He also
filed what the Eleventh Circuit called a frivolous
mandamus petition.

(See Frank Article, attached as Exhibit "A")

39. The Frank Article was received by the tens of thousands of readers of

Overlawyered.com, including the thousands of people who read Overlawyered.com on

the internet, and the thousands more who receive the Overlawyered.com newsletters, the

majority of whom are practicing attorneys in Pennsylvania and in the United States.

40. Considering the Frank Article in context, and in particular, the assertion

that Wolk "sold out" his client for his own personal benefit, with an eye toward the effect

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the Frank Article was fairly calculated to produce, and the impression it would naturally

engender in the minds of the average persons among whom it was intended to circulate, it

is clear that the Frank Article is defamatory.

41. In fact, the Frank Article is defamatory per se because it was intended to,

and did, blacken Wolk's reputation and explse him to public hatred, contempt and

ridicule, and injure him in his business and profession, by ascribing to Wolk conduct and

characteristics that would adversely affect his fitness for the proper conduct of his lawful

business as an attorney at law.

42. Further, the Frank Article is not merely "opinion," but it purports to be an

analysis of a case and an attorney's conduct by several persons, Frank, Olson and

Nieporent, who hold themselves out as having superior knowledge of the legal field and

of attorney misconduct, such that the Frank Article implies undisclosed, false and

defamatory facts — namely, that Frank, Olson, Nieporent and Overlwayered.com , as a

result of their investigation and analysis, had determined that Wolk acted improperly and

unethically, and "sold out" his client for his owner personal and professional gain.

43. In fact, the implication that Wolk had sold out his client for his own

personal and professional gain was false.

44. When the Frank Article was disseminated, Frank, Olson, Nieporent and

Overlawyered.com knew that it was false, knew that they had no basis to assert that Wolk

"sold out" his client for his own personal and professional gain, and knew that the

settlement that was achieved in the Taylor case was a remarkably good settlement which

exceeded the value of the case placed upon it by a mediator. Notwithstanding, due to

their personal animosity and ill-will towards Wolk, with actual malice, and with actual

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knowledge that their statements in the Frank Article were false, the Defendants

disseminated the Frank Article.

45. As a direct and proximate result of the false and malicious Frank Article,

Wolk has sustained damages that include, but are not limited to, pecunairy loss,

impairment of reputation and standing in the legal community, personal humiliation, and

mental anguish and suffering.

E. Wolk Learns Of The Defamatory Frank Article In April 2009

46. In April 2009, Wolk attended a seminar dealing with, inter alia, client

relationships. During this seminar, the speaker advised the listeners that clients were

becoming increasingly media and internet savvy, such that, prior to engaging an attorney

to represent him in a lawsuit, many clients will perform a "Google" search on the

attorney as part of due dilligence. Therfore, the speaker advised Wolk and others that it

was important to ascertain what a "Google" search would reveal, and warned that there

could be inaccurate, unfair, or false information on the internet that would be revealed

through a "Google" search. For this reason, the speaker recommended that all listeners

perform a "Google" search on themselves.

47. That night, Wolk returned to his home and, for the first time, performed a

"Google" search on himself, and saw the defamatory Frank Artcile for the first time.

Wolk was outraged and dismayed.

48. Thus, Wolk immediately sent a April 9, 2009 email to Frank. This email

stated that Wolk never sold out his clients, pointed out that Frank had miscast important

facts of the case, and then stated:

I demand that you immediately remove this and every other


article about me from your website. What you wrote is

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false, shows a complete disregard for the facts and malice,


an intent to herm me when you couldn't beat me in court
and an effort to destroy the perception of potential clients
who would read this and fail to hire me. You have accused
me of unethical conduct, fraud and the commission of a
crime, none of which is true. This is clearly the reason I
have found it extremely difficult to gain new business.
You will soon find the same.

(See April 9, 2009 email, attached as Exhibit "B")

49. The Defendants refused to retract the defamatory Frank Article, which still

remains accessible on the Overlawyered.com website.

50. In fact, Wolk has information that potential clients had, in fact, viewed the

Overlawyered.com website and the defamatory Frank Article, and viewed the accusations

that Wolk is unethical, that he cheats and sells-out his clients, and the other false

accusations, and decided not to engage Wolk as an attorney, despite his track record and

prominence, solely on the basis of the Frank Article and the false statements made

therein.

51. Thus, the false Frank Article has had an enormous negative impact on

Wolk as a legal practicioner based primarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

COUNT I
DEFAMATION
PLAINTIFF VS. DEFENDANTS

52. The Plaintiff incorporates by reference the preceding Paragraphs of this

Complaint.

53. The Defendants published the Frank Article, and the Frank Aricle was

disseminated to the thousands of readers who read Overlawyered.com , as well as those

who receive written copies of Overlawyered.com through the mail including attorneys

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and other persons in Pennsylvania. The Frank Article presently remains accessible on the

Overlawyered.com webiste.

54. The Frank Article defamed the Plaintiff because, inter alia, it ascribed

conduct and character to the Plaintiff that would adversely affect his fitness for the proper

conduct of his lawful profession, blackened his reputation, exposed him to public

contempt and ridicule, injured him in his business or profession, lowered him in the

estimation of the community, and deterred third persons from associating and/or dealing

with him.

55. The Frank Article expressly applied to the Plaintiff.

56. The Frank Article's defamatory meaning, and its application to the

Plaintiff, was understood by the thousands of ordinary and reasonable readers of

Overlawyered.com.

57. As a result of the Frank Article, the Plaintiff suffered special harm in the

form of severe monetary loss, economic and consequential damages discussed above, as

well as severe and irreparable impairment of his reputation and credibility in the

community generally, and personal humiliation, mental anguish and mental suffering.

58. The Frank Article was false. The false and defamatory Frank Article was

made with actual malice by Frank, Olson, Nieporent, and Overlawyered.com , because

Frank, Olson, Nieporent, and Overlawyered.com had actual knowledge of the falsity of

the Frank Article when it was made, and/or a reckless disregard for the falsity of the

Frank Article when it was made. Indeed, Frank, Olson, Nieporent, and

Overlawyered.com entertained serious doubts as to the truth of the Frank Article at the

time it was disseminated. Further, when making the false and defamatory Frank Article,

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Frank, Olson, Nieporent, and Overlawyered.com were motivated by personal animosity

and ill-will towards the Plaintiff, and published the Frank Article with the intent to harm

the Plaintiff and destroy his career.

59. The Frank Article was not subject to any recognized privilege, and/or to

the extent that any privilege existed or could exist, Frank, Olson, Nieporent, and

Overlawyered.com abused any such privilege.

60. Due to the willful, wanton, intentional and malicious nature of the

Defendants' conduct, Plaintiff also demands an award of punitive damages in an amount

to be determined at trial.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Arthur Alan Wolk respectfully requests that the Court

enter judgment in his favor and against the Defendants, award the Plaintiff Arthur Alan

Wolk compensatory and punitive damages in an amount in excess of the statutory

minimum for arbitration, and grant such other and further relief as this Court deems just

and appropriate.

COUNT!!
FALSE LIGHT
PLAINTIFF VS. DEFENDANTS

61. The Plaintiff incorporates by reference the preceding Paragraphs of this

Complaint.

62. By disseminating the Frank Article, the Defendants gave publicity to a

matter concerning the Plaintiff that placed the Plaintiff before the public in a false light.

63. The Frank Article was dissemianted by the Defendants and communicated

to the public at large, and it was received by so many persons that the matter must be

regarded as public knowledge.

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64. The Frank Article included major misrepresentations of the Plaintiff's

character, conduct and activities.

65. The Frank Article is highly offensive to the Plaintiff, as it would be to any

reasonable person.

66. The misrepresentations contained in the Frank Article, concerning the

(alleged and false) assertion that the Plaintiff sold out his client, and accepted a lesser

settlement for personal reasons to the dertiment of his client, are not of any legitimate

public concern.

67. The false Frank Article was disseminated by the Defendants with the

knowledge and/or reckless disregard for the false light in which the Plaintiff would be

portrayed.

68. Further, the false Frank Article was made by the Defendants with actual

malice, because the Defendants had actual knowledge of the falsity of the Frank Article

when it was made, and/or a reckless disregard for the falsity of the Frank Article when it

was made. Indeed, the Defendants entertained serious doubts as to the truth of the Frank

Article at the time it was disseminated. Further, when disseminating the false Frank

Article, the Defendants were motivated by ill-will and personal animus towards the

Plaintiff, and published the Frank Article with the intent to harm the Plaintiff and destroy

his reputation.

69. The Frank Article was disseminated to the public at large through the

internet and mailings, and is continuously available to the general public on the

Overlawyered.com website, and elsewhere on the worldwide web.

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70. As a result of the Frank Article, the Plaintiff suffered severe harm to his

interest in privacy, as well as significant damages in the form of monetary loss, economic

and consequential damages discussed above, severe and irreparable impairment of his

reputation and credibility in the community generally, and personal humilliation, mental

anguish and mental suffering.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Arthur Alan Wolk respectfully requests that the Court

enter judgment in his favor and against the Defendants, award the Plaintiff Arthur Alan

Wolk compensatory and punitive damages in an amount in excess of the statutory

minimum for arbitration, and grant such other and further relief as this Court deems just

and appropriate.

COUNT III
INTENTIONAL INTERFERENCE WITH
PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTUAL RELATIONS
PLAINTIFF VS. DEFENDANTS

71. The Plaintiff incorporates by reference the preceding Paragraphs of this

Complaint.

72. As set forth above, Wolk is one of the world's most prominent aviation

attorneys, and one of the most successful attorneys ever in this country representing

victims of aircraft accidents. Wolk is also widely known through his appearances in the

media, as a commentator on aircraft safety and accidents.

73. Since the dissemiation of the false Frank Article, and following his

becoming aware of the false Frank Article, Wolk has become aware of several potential

victims who intended to engage Wolk as their counsel to represent them, and would have

in fact represented him but for their due dilligence on him, which included reference to

18
453152-1
Case ID: 090501489
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 41 Date Filed: 10/21/2010

the defamatory and false Frank Article. As to these persons, Wolk can establish a

prospective contractual relationship.

74. As agents of the aircraft industry, the Defendants in this case acted with

the purpose and intent to harm Wolk in Pennsylvania, where his home office exists, by

spreading false and defamatory statements about him, and accusing him of selling out his

client, in order to prevent Wolk from representing clients who are victims of aircraft

accidents.

75. The Defendants in this case acted without privilege or justification.

76. As a result of the Deffndants' conduct, Wolk has sustained actual legal

damage.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Arthur Alan Wolk respectfully requests that the Court

enter judgment in his favor and against the Defendants, award the Plaintiff Arthur Alan

Wolk compensatory and punitive damages in an amount in excess of the statutory

minimum for arbitration, and grant such other and further relief as this Court deems just

and appropriate.

Respectfully submitted,

Paul R. Rosen, Esquire


Andrew J. DeFalco, Esquire
SPECTOR GADON & ROSEN, P.C.
1635 Market Street, 7`h Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
(215) 241-8888 (Main)
(215) 241-8844 (Fax)

Counsel for Plaintiff

Dated: August 17, 2009

19
453152-1
Case ID: 090501489
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 42 Date Filed: 10/21/2010

VERIFICATION

1, Andrew J. DeFalco, Esquire, hereby verify that I am counsel for Plaintiff in the within

action and, as such, I am authorized to make this Verification on his behalf.

The statements made in the foregoing Complaint are true to the best of my personal

knowledge, information and belief, based on my knowledge of this litigation.

I understand that the statements made therein are subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. §4904

relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.

Date: August 17, 2008

Andrew . DeFalco

540261-1

Case ID: 090501489


Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 43 Date Filed: 10/21/2010

EXHIBIT A

Case ID: 090501489


Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744
Arthur Alan Wolk V. Teledyne Industries, Inc.
Page: 44 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
I'age I of '/

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Overlawwered

Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

Arthur Alan Wolk v. Teledyne Industries, Inc.


by Ted Frank on April 8, 2007

Judge writes scathing opinion about attorney; opponent attorney mails opinion to client; losing attorney
sues other attorney for defamation. No dice, but even this ludicrous suit does not result in sanctions.
[Beck/Herrmann]

Beck and Herrmann miss, however, an especially interesting subplot. Wolk settled the underlying case,
Taylor v. Teledyne, No. CIV.A.1:00-CV-1741-J (N.D. Ga.), on the condition that the order criticizing
him be vacated. Did Wolk's client suffer fro _ ni.L_reduced sPttlement so that his attorney could avoid
having the order used against him in other litigation? (The discovery violation complained about was
apparently a repeat occurrence.) The district court permitted a settlement that vacated the order, but its
only reported inquiry into whether Wolk did not suffer from a conflict of interest and was adequately
protecting his client's rights was Wolk's representation to the court that the client was alright with the
size of the settlement. That begs the question whether the client was fully aware of the conflict of
interest; if, as seems to be the case, the N.D. Ga. failed to do so, one really wishes courts would do more
to protect fiduciaries of plaintiffs' attorneys before signing off on settlements. 338 F.Supp.2d 1323,
1327 (N.D. Ga. 2004), aff'd in unpublished summary per curiam opinion (11th Cir., Jun. 17, 2005).

We've earlier reported on Mr. Wolk for his lawsuits against commenters at an aviation website that
criticized him: $p. 16-17, 2002. As the Taylor opinion notes, Wolk also threatened to sue the federal
judge in that case. He also filed what the Eleventh Circuit called a frivolous mandamus petition.

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Tagged as: libel slander and defamation

http://overlawyered.com/2007/04/arthur-alan-wolk-v-teledyne-industries-inc/ Casl1i2d^O 50 1489


Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 45 Date Filed: 10/21/2010

EXHIBIT B

Case ID: 090501489


Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 46 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
Page 1 of 2

Arthur Alan Wolk

From: Arthur Alan Wolk


Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 9:29 PM
To: tedfrank@gmail.com
Cc: Paul Rosen; Walter DeForest; Cheryl DeLisle; Bradley J. Stoll
Subject: Your false and disparaging statements on the website Overlawyered.com

Mr. Frank:

I have just seen the false and disparaging statements made about on your web site or better said the
web said managed, supervised and promoted by those who would deny consumers all rights to sue
companies that manufacture defective products, the American Enterprise Institute, a web site run by
and for defense lawyers and manufacturers and which by your lead at least made absolutely no effort
to investigate the facts.
You don't mention the fact that for example you worked for at least two defense firms against which I
have been extremely successful thus your pique over me appears to be related more to my beating
your clients backsides than any umbrage over some undefined legal transgression. Absent from your
bio is any description of any success anywhere on any subject and with any law firm of substance so it
therefore must be easy for you to tear down someone who has a had a forty year success record
against the likes of you. Absent from your tirade is my forty years of success and my hundreds and
hundreds of cases with not a critical word by a lawyer or a judge.
But more important to me is your false commentary on the Taylor case and your outright libelous
statements that make me look like I sold out my clients in that case for a retraction of a false discovery
order. Had you investigated the facts you would have seen that it was my firm that made complete
discovery and the defense none. In fact it was because the court looked so foolish with nothing to back
up her vitriol that she vacated that order and for no other reason.
I have never sold out my clients ever and never will but I will fight to protect my name against people
like you who hide behind some phony title like "scholar" bestowed upon yourself. What did the Taylor
case settle for? Who were the heirs and what were their damages? What was the liability defense and
what were the facts against Teledyne. How many plaintiffs' death verdicts had ever been allowed out of
that judge's courtroom? What were the damages recoverable under Georgia law? What considerations
as to liability and damages did I make before recommending settlement. What potential for proofs of
contributory conduct or even sole causation by immune persons such as the pilots' employer were
there as in bad maintenance? What steps did I take to ensure that the settlement was fair and
reasonable and like other settlements or even better for similar circumstances in Georgia? Did I contact
other Georgia lawyers for their views?
The 11 th circuit affirmed the trial court's decision not to hold be in contempt, not to award counsel fees,
and not to reinstate the false discovery order. That affirmance had nothing to do with the underlying
Taylor case at all so you even got that wrong.
Kindly provide full and complete answers to these questions in writing within twenty-four hours and yes
I will sue you for defamation. I know you never contacted me to get answers to these questions so let's
learn whom you spoke to.
I will check to see if your late firms represented Teledyne in anything. I know Kirtland and Ellis
represented Pratt and Whitney unsuccessfully against me at least once and maybe more. I am
attempting to see if you were involved in that debacle.
You see Mr. Frank, if you are going to libel someone you need to understand the facts first and the law
and also understand the person you are libeling. This was a big mistake.
By copy of this e-mail I am requesting my counsel, Paul Rosen to immediately institute a lawsuit
against you and your organization. When we learn who your contributors are we will sue each and
every one of them against whom I have had cases or who motivated you to continue the defense
generated effort to damage my reputation.

Case ID: 090501489


4/13/2009
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 47 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
Page 2 of 2

Also by copy of this e-mail I am requesting counsel for Teledyne to set you straight because if I find
they had anything to do with these lies I'll sue them too.
I demand that you immediately remove this and every other article about me from your website. What
you wrote is false, shows a complete disregard for the facts and malice, an intent to harm me when you
couldn't beat me in court and an effort to destroy the perception of potential clients who would read this
and fail to hire me. You have accused me of unethical conduct, fraud and the commission of a crime
none of which is true. This is clearly the reason I have found it extremely difficult to gain new business.
You will soon find the same.

Arthur Alan Wolk

Case ID: 090501489


4/13/2009
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 48 Date Filed: 10/21/2010

EXHIBIT "B"
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 49 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 1 of 8

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

ARTHUR ALAN WOLK, ESQUIRE CIVIL ACTION

v.

WALTER K. OLSON, et al NO. 09-4001

McLaughlin, J. August 2, 2010

The issue before the Court is whether the Pennsylvania

Supreme Court would apply the discovery rule to toll the statute

of limitations in a mass-media defamation case. The Court holds

that it would not.

Arthur Alan Wolk, a well-known aviation attorney, has

sued Overlawyered.com for defamation, false light, and

intentional interference with prospective contractual relations

arising out of an article published on that website. The

plaintiff also names as defendants Walter K. Olson, Theodore H.

Frank, David M. Nierporent, and The Overlawyered Group.

The defendants move to dismiss the complaint on the

ground that the case was not brought within the statute of

limitations and the complaint fails to state a claim. The Court

will grant the defendant's motion to dismiss on statute of

limitations grounds.
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 50 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 2 of 8

I. The Complaint

The plaintiff is perhaps the most prominent aviation

attorney in the country. Compl. 1 13. Overlawyered.com is a

public website that attracts more than 9,000 unique daily

visitors, including tens of thousands Df lawyers and other

professionals. Compl. 11 22-24, 39.

In 2002, the court in Taylor v. Teledyne Tech., Inc.

issued a discovery order critical of the plaintiff's conduct, but

the plaintiff was not personally involved in any of the asserted

conduct. Compl. 5 30. The trial judge subsequently vacated the

order and sealed it from publication. Compl. 1 31. Thereafter,

the parties settled the case. Compl. ¶ 32.

On April 8, 2007, Mr. Frank wrote an article (the

"Frank Article") for Overlawyered.com , and Mr. Olson and Mr.

Nierporent edited it. Compl. 1 37. The article commented on the

chain of events leading to settlement in the Taylor case:

Did Wolk's client suffer from a reduced


settlement so that his attorney could avoid
having the order used against him in other
litigation? [I]f, as seems to be the case,
the N.D. Ga. failed to [disclose a potential
conflict of interest], one really wishes
courts would do more to protect fiduciaries
of plaintiffs' attorneys before signing off
on settlements.

Compl. 1 38.

In April 2009, the plaintiff discovered the Frank

Article. Compl. 1 47. He immediately contacted Mr. Frank and

demanded that all articles relating to the plaintiff be removed


2
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Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 3 of 8

from Overlawyered.com . Compl. 1 48. The defendants refused to

retract the Frank Article, which remained accessible on the

website at the time the plaintiff filed his complaint. Comp'.

1 49.

II. Analysis

The plaintiff commenced this suit on May 12, 2009, by

filing a praecipe for a writ of summons in the Court of Common

Pleas. After removing the case to federal court, the defendant

moved for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). Under this rule, a

court may dismiss an action if the complaint shows facial

noncompliance with the statute of limitations. Oshiver v. Levin,

Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1385 n.1 (3d Cir. 1994);

see also Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).

Pennsylvania's one-year statute of limitations for

defamation applies to all three claims.' See 42 Pa. Cons. Stat.

Ann. § 5523(a) (2010); Menichini v. Grant, 995 F.2d 1224, 1228

n.2 (3d Cir. 1993). The statute began to run from the time of

publication. See Dominiak v. Nat'l Enquirer, 266 A.2d 626, 629-

30 (Pa. 1970). Mr. Frank published the article on April 8, 2007,

1 Because the plaintiff's claim for intentional interference


with a potential contractual relationship arises from his
defamation claim, the one-year statute of limitations applies to
the contract claim, even though it would otherwise be subject to
a two-year limitations period. Evans v. Philadelphia Newspaper,
Inc., 601 A.2d 330, 333-34 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1991) ("[T]he one year
statute of limitation for defamation cannot be circumvented by
cloaking such a cause of action in other legal raiment.").
3
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Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 4 of 8

with the result that the limitations window closed on April 8,

2008. The plaintiff's action, therefore, was time-barred when he

commenced it on May 12, 2009, unless some tolling principle had

tolled the statute.

The discovery rule represents a potential tolling

principle. It accounts for a plaintiff's "inability . . .

despite the exercise of reasonable diligence, to know that he is

injured and by what cause." Fine v. Checcio, 870 A.2d 850, 858

(Pa. 2005). The plaintiff claims that the discovery rule should

apply to toll the statute of limitations here, 2 but the

defendants argue that the rule does not apply to mass-media

defamation.

The plaintiff relies on two Pennsylvania Supreme Court

cases to support his position. The plaintiff reads these cases

too broadly, however. He first cites Fine v. Checcio, in which

the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated that "the discovery rule

applies to toll the statute of limitations in any case where a

party neither knows nor reasonably should have known of his

injury and its cause at the time his right to institute suit

arises." 870 A.2d at 859. Although the plaintiff takes from

2 The plaintiff also asserts that fraudulent concealment


tolled the statute. If a defendant causes a plaintiff to relax
his vigilance or deviate from a typical standard of inquiry, the
doctrine of fraudulent concealment tolls the statute of
limitations. Fine, 870 A.2d at 860. The doctrine does not apply
here. The plaintiff alleged no facts that would demonstrate that
the defendant actively or passively misled the plaintiff or hid
from him the existence of the Frank Article.

I
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 53 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 5 of 8

this that the discovery rule should apply to "any case," the

court went on to clarify that the purpose of the rule is to

address "an injury that is not immediately ascertainable." Id.

at 860.

The plaintiff also cites Wilson v. El-Daief, in which

the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the discovery rule is a

tool of statutory interpretation that determines when a cause of

action accrues. 964 A.2d 354, 363 (Pa. 2009). Because the

statute of limitations begins to run "from the time the cause of

action accrued," the plaintiff infers from Wilson that the

discovery rule must be applied in all cases to determine when

accrual occurs and the statute begins to run. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat.

Ann. § 5502(a) (2010). The decision, however, described a more

limited application: "to toll the running of the statute of

limitations for latent injuries, or injuries of unknown

etiology . . . ." Wilson, 964 A.2d at 356.

Elsewhere, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated

that the discovery rule should be employed only for "worthy

cases"; it "cannot be applied so loosely as to nullify the

purpose for which a statute of limitations exists. i3 Dalrymple

3 Indeed, the discovery rule is a narrow exception to an


otherwise strict limitations standard. For example, Pennsylvania
does not toll the statute of limitations for a plaintiff who
fails to discover a cause of action due to incarceration or
insanity. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5533(a) (2010). Likewise,
ignorance, mistake or misunderstanding will not toll the statute,
even though a plaintiff may not discover an injury until it is
too late. See Pocono Int'l Raceway, Inc., v. Pocono Produce,
Inc., 468 A.2d 468, 471 (Pa. 1983).
5
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 54 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 6 of 8

v. Brown, 701 A.2d 164, 167 (Pa. 1997). Taken in their totality,

Fine and Wilson agree that not all cases are worthy of the

discovery rule. Worthy cases are those pertaining to hard-to-

discern injuries.

Consequently, the discovery rule would appear to be

inapplicable in this case. If the rule is intended for hard-to-

discern injuries, it would be at odds with a cause of action

based upon a defamatory statement disseminated through a mass

medium, like a website, and received by tens of thousands of

readers.

Moreover, applying the discovery rule here would

undermine the purpose of the statute of limitations. If a

plaintiff may bring a person into court after a limitations

period has expired simply by invoking the discovery rule, and if

a court is bound from dismissing the claim no matter how public

or ancient the injury may be, then the discovery rule will have

nullified the stability and security that the statute of

limitations aims to protect. See Schumucker v. Naugle, 231 A.2d

121, 123 (Pa. 1967).

Three other judges from this Court have concluded that

the discovery rule does not apply to mass-media defamation.

Bradford v. Am. Media Operations, Inc., 882 F. Supp. 1508, 1519

(E.D. Pa. 1995) (holding that the discovery rule could not apply

to defamation in the widely distributed Star newspaper); Barrett

6
Case: 10-3352 Document: 003110322744 Page: 55 Date Filed: 10/21/2010
Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 7 of 8

v. Catacombs Press, 64 F. Supp. 2d 440, 446 (E.D. Pa. 1999)

("[T]he discovery rule should not be applied where . . . a

defendant's alleged defamation was not done in a manner meant to

conceal the subject matter of the defamation."); Drozdowski v.

Callahan, No. 07-cv-01233-JF, 2008 WL 375110, at *1 (E.D. Pa.

Feb. 12, 2008) (declining to apply the discovery rule to

defamation published in a book); see also Smith v. IMG Worldwide

Inc., 437 F. Supp. 2d 297, 306 (E.D. Pa. 2006) (distinguishing

defamation in a private conversation).

Many other courts have also declined to apply the

discovery rule to mass-media defamation. See, e.g., Schweihs v.

Burdick, 96 F.3d 917, 920-21 (7th Cir. 1996) (adopting a "mass-

media exception" to the discovery rule, explaining that the rule

only applies to defamation "in situations where the defamatory

material is published in a manner likely to be concealed from the

plaintiff, such as credit reports or confidential memoranda");

Rinsley v. Brandt, 446 F. Supp. 850, 852-53 (D. Kan. 1977) ("We

would not apply the discovery rule where the defamation is made a

matter of public knowledge through such agencies as newspapers or

television broadcasts."); Shively v. Bozanich, 80 P.3d 676, 688-

89 (Ca. 2003) ("[A]pplication of the discovery rule to statements

contained in books and newspapers would undermine the single-

publication rule and reinstate the indefinite tolling of the

statute of limitations . . . ."); Mullin v. Washington Free

Weekly, Inc., 785 A.2d 296, 299 (D.C. 2001) ("[E]very other court
7
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Case 2:09-cv-04001-MAM Document 36 Filed 08/02/10 Page 8 of 8

squarely faced with this issue [rejected] application of the

discovery rule in mass media defamation claims. We follow these

precedents and do likewise here." (citations omitted)); Flynn v.

Assoc'd Press, 519 N.E.2d 1304, 1307 (Ma. 1988) ("The discovery

rule does not apply to a public libel printed in a newspaper

widely available to the public, including the plaintiff."); Clark

v. AiResearch Mfg. Co. of Ariz. Inc., 673 P.2d 984, 986-87 (Az.

1983) ("We believe the rule of discovery should be applied in

those situations in which the defamation is published in a manner

in which it is peculiarly likely to be concealed from the

plaintiff . . . ."); Tom Olesker's Exciting World of Fashion,

Inc. v. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., 334 N.E.2d 160, 164 (Il. 1975)

(distinguishing defamation in a credit report from defamation in

magazines, books, newspapers, and radio and television programs).

The Court is not aware of any case in which the

discovery rule has been applied to postpone the accrual of a

cause of action based upon the publication of a defamatory

statement contained in a book or newspaper or other mass medium.

I reach the same conclusion as my colleagues in the Eastern

District of Pennsylvania and other jurisdictions: as a matter of

law, the discovery rule does not apply to toll the statute of

limitations for mass-media defamation.

An appropriate Order will be issued separately.