Litigant accused of carrying on vendetta against lawyer loses appeal over $1M default judgment
A federal appeals court has upheld a $1 million default judgment obtained by a New Jersey lawyer who claimed an opposing litigant disseminated false information about him and interfered with his business as part of an ongoing vendetta.
Lawyer Bruce Baldinger of Morristown, N.J., had claimed Matteo Patisso, of Huntington Station, N.Y., had defamed him on the Internet and made false statements in emails and mailings to Baldinger’s clients, the New Jersey Law Journal reports.
Patisso allegedly said Baldinger was under criminal investigation and had a “pathological desire to lie and steal from others,” the New Jersey Law Journal says. Patisso also allegedly published a “racketeering family tree” that accused Baldinger of participating in a criminal conspiracy.
A federal court had entered a default judgment against Patisso for failure to comply with discovery obligations, according to the unpublished opinion (PDF) by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Patisso argued a damages hearing should not have been held without him since he was recovering from a car accident.
The appeals court found no abuse of discretion, given Patisso’s “pattern of delay” and his last-minute disclosure that he would not make the hearing.
Baldinger told the New Jersey Law Journal he hopes the decision “sends a message to others that this type of behavior will not be tolerated by the courts.” Patisso told the publication he plans to appeal.