Media & Communications Law

After losing libel lawsuit over parody Twitter account, lawyer sues opposing counsel and newspaper

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Earlier this year, attorney Todd Levitt lost a Michigan libel lawsuit over a parody Twitter account by a Central Michigan University student that mocked his “badass” approach to legal marketing.

Although it used his name, photo and law firm logo, the parody Twitter account was not actionable, an Isabella County judge ruled (PDF) in February, because a reasonable reader would not have confused it with Levitt’s actual Twitter account.

Now Levitt, who has been teaching at CMU as an adjunct, is suing again, and his opposing counsel in the earlier case, who has also been teaching at CMU, is one of the defendants, reports the Morning Sun. The newspaper, too, is among the defendants in the case.

At issue in the new suit filed Thursday in Isabella County is the public portrayal of Levitt during his earlier defamation case. He contends, among other allegations, that false accusations of unethical conduct on his part concerning a Top College Lawyer website prize were fed to the Sun, whose articles inaccurately described the content of court documents in the initial defamation case. The false portrayal hurt his reputation among his client base, Levitt said.

Scribd provides a copy of the complaint, which asserts claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, civil conspiracy, intentional interference with business expectancy and intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeks $1 million in damages.

A Central Michigan Life article provides additional details.

Attorney Gordon Bloem, who represented Zachary Felton in the original suit concerning the parody Twitter account, told the Morning Sun he had done nothing wrong.

“I am being sued because I aggressively, ethically, and successfully represented my client, Zachary Felton, in the frivolous lawsuit brought by Mr. Levitt against him,” said Bloem. “I am also being sued because I followed through on my duty to report Mr. Levitt’s unethical behavior to the attorney grievance commission.”

Related coverage:

Volokh Conspiracy: “‘Badass lawyer’ Todd Levitt loses libel lawsuit over @levittlawyer parody Twitter feed”

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