Posted Jul 14, 2011 08:59 pm CDT
Criticized online for claimed misrepresentations about the success of its graduates, a Michigan law school has filed suit for defamation against a New York law firm and anonymous bloggers that it blames for the communications.
The Kurzon Strauss firm and two of its lawyers posted online comments, including requests for information and a draft purported class action complaint, in which they falsely contended that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School incorrectly reported its graduates’ job placement and student loan default rates, the law school says in a complaint (PDF) it filed today in state court.
The action also includes a breach of contract count, based on allegations that the defendants agreed to retract false and defamatory material but then republished it.
A parallel complaint (PDF) also filed today in Ingham County by Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone lists four John Doe bloggers as defendants.
“Everyone has the right to state an opinion about Cooley, online or elsewhere,” said James Thelen, Cooley’s associate dean for legal affairs and general counsel in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “But our lawsuits contend that these defendants have crossed the line both legally and ethically, smearing our reputation with blatantly false and often vulgar statements that they attempt to spread as broadly as possible.”
Responding to a request for comment by the ABA Journal this afternoon, David Anziska, who is of counsel to the Kurzon firm and a defendant in the Cooley case, provided the following statement: “This is one of the most ridiculous, absurd lawsuits in recent memory. Suffice it to say, not only will we defend ourselves vigorously but we fully intend to countersue both Thomas Cooley and their lawyers at Miller Canfield for abusing the legal process with this blatantly idiotic lawsuit.”
He declined to discuss the specifics of the case. However, it appears that at least some of the material at issue in the Cooley litigation may relate to attempts by the law firm to reach individuals who have information relevant to a potential claim against the law school. A JD Underground post and a Craigslist ad, both seemingly from the law firm, asks those with information about Cooley law graduates’ salaries and placement rates to contact the firm.