Media & Communications Law

Lawyer Who Googled His Name Found Offensive Post Too Late, Judge Says


An aviation lawyer who Googled his name at a seminar on client relations in early 2009 didn’t like what he found.

Lawyer Alan Wolk discovered an April 2007 blog entry at Overlawyered.com questioning a case settlement for one of his clients. He filed suit about a month later, but that wasn’t fast enough for a federal judge in Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Judge Mary McLaughlin dismissed the suit on statute-of-limitations grounds, rejecting arguments that the one-year limitations period should have been tolled until Wolk discovered the offending blog post, the Legal Intelligencer reports. McLaughlin’s opinion (PDF) said blogs qualify as mass media that aren’t subject to the discovery rule that tolls the time limits.

The Intelligencer story begins this way: “Aviation lawyer and seasoned pilot Arthur Alan Wolk knows quite a bit about the stratosphere and the troposphere, but he may have learned something new this week about the blogosphere when a federal judge tossed out his libel suit against the bloggers at Overlawyered.com.”

Wolk plans to appeal. Lawyers for Overlawyered.com say the blog entry was not defamatory and was protected opinion under the First Amendment, the story says.

Related coverage from the annual meeting:

ABAJournal.com: “It Doesn’t Matter if You’re a Good Lawyer if the Internet Doesn’t Agree, Experts Say”

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