Women can legally call their exes “scum” – or pretty much anything else – in dating forums online, according to a federal judge’s ruling.
The judge threw out a lawsuit by New York lawyer Matthew Couloute against two ex-lovers he said repeatedly trashed him on the website LiarsCheatersRUs.com in early 2011.
“Lied and cheated his entire way through his 40 years of life,” read one post.
“HE’S SCUM. RUN FAR AWAY,” read another.
Couloute, a former prosecutor and Court TV analyst, found these comments were the first hit when anyone searched online for his name.
He sued his ex-lovers — blonde bombshell Stacey Blitsch of California, a professional Roller Derby skater and mother of his son, and raven-haired Amanda Ryncarz, who says Couloute dumped her and got married 12 days later — calling the statements “malicious” and intended to destroy his career.
He asked for compensation for harm to his professional reputation, mental anguish and economic losses.
In Friday’s ruling, New York Federal Judge Harold Baer said Coulote could not show he’d suffered any professional harm, and ruled the comments were not defamatory because they were “clearly hyperbolic.”
“When viewed within the larger context of the website on which they were posted, there can be no doubt that a reasonable reader would understand the comments to be opinion,” Baer wrote.
It would be obvious, he said, that comments on a website called LiarsCheatersRUs.com were the “opinions of disappointed lovers.”
Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference Monday to hail what she called a high-tech win for women’s rights.
“We think this is a beautiful opinion,” she said. “Women should have the right to warn each other about men that they believe have lied and cheated on them.”
Allred added, “If you are afraid that your lying and cheating might show up on the internet, don’t lie and cheat.”
Couloute said the ruling means “as long as it’s opinion, you can bully or harass anyone you want online.”
He disputed the judge’s finding that the comments were clearly overheated opinion that did not hurt his career.
“What you are basically saying is, ‘No one is going to believe that anyway so it’s OK for them to say whatever they want.’ But people do take it for fact. It shouldn’t be his decision to make,” Couloute said.
“When you are looking for a lawyer and the first thing that comes up on Google is defamatory, how are you not harmed?” he asked.
He said he will appeal.
Ironically, the first Google hit for Ryncarz is her own page on LiarsCheatersRUs.com, where she is tarred anonymously as a “sloppy, immature, trashy, gold-digger” with “no class.”
Couloute swore he didn’t write that.
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