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Ex-Leafs GM Brian Burke sues online commenters - TRIBE be warned !!!

Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
Ex-Leafs GM Brian Burke sues online commenters | Hockey | Sports | Toronto Sun

Ex-Leafs GM Brian Burke sues online commenters

By Lance Hornby ,Toronto Sun
First posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:42 AM EDT | Updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:59 AM EDT

Former Leafs general manager Brian Burke filed a lawsuit with B.C. Supreme Court, claiming he was defamed in online comments accusing him of having an extra-marital affair. (Joel Lemay/ QMI Agency/Files)

Since being let go by the Maple Leafs on the eve of the 2013 season, the reasons for Brian Burke’s dismissal have been the subject of much gossip.

One story in particular that wound its way through social media accounts sparked the former general manager and team president to file a lawsuit with B.C. Supreme Court on Friday. Burke claims he was defamed in online comments accusing him of having an extra-marital affair with sports reporter Hazel Mae of Rogers Sportsnet. The actual names of the 18 defendants are not not known to Burke, but the social media handles that the comments were allegedly made under include Poonerman, Slobberface and Sir Psycho Sexy and are on the court document.

One of the comments entered in the suit suggested Mae was pregnant.

“Contrary to popular belief, the reason for Burke’s firing was not his willingness to pull off the Roberto Luongo trade,” it read. “Well it didn’t take long for Brian Burke and Hazel Mae to hook up. In the summer of 2012, Sportsnet removed her from the glass desk because she wouldn’t fit, insisting that she stand while on air.”

It went on to call Burke “the lucky Dad”.

Burke’s lawyer Peter Gall said in a stement on Friday that the comments are false and defamatory, and have harmed both Burke’s and Mae’s families.

“Brian has decided that it is time to stop people who post comments on the Internet from thinking they can fabricate wild stories with impunity,” Gall said. “Brian is determined to find the authors of the lie about him and those who have circulated the lie.”

At the time of his surprise firing in early January, it was clear that incoming ownership of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was upset with the team missing the playoffs four straight years and Burke’s abrasive style and feuds with the media were not winning him any friends on the board of directors.

Talk of “leadership style” and the need for “a different voice” and “changing gears” came up in the press conference that day.

“This didn’t happen overnight,” said MLSE president Tom Anselmi. “It’s a decision the board and I have discussed for a couple of months. It included a lot of things, including how the team is doing and how it finished up last year.”

The court documents say Burke is suing for losses and damages to his reputation. He is also seeking to have each of the 18 defendants restrained from publishing the statements on the Internet.

None of the claims have been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed.

Burke, who is married to CTV News Channel anchor Jennifer Burke, is now a pro scout for the Anaheim Ducks.
 

Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
this story is a bit outrageous. brian burke is suing the internet for making fun of him.

"Slobberface" is, i believe, someone who posts on the toronto jungle message board.

i believe the statute of limitations would bar any lawsuit from russell crowe or else we'd all be in trouble.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I would like to sit in the courtroom just to hear a judge say "Poonerman, Slobberface and Sir Psycho Sexy" from the bench.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
Also, I don't follow the Maple leafs or even hockey but didn't their performance vastly improve once this Burk guy left?
 
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silver1

TRIBE Member
Also, I don't follow the Maple leafs or even hockey but didn't their performance vastly improve once this Burk guy left?
Well technically, yes. But the team that is on the ice and the coaching staff in place were all aquired by him over his tenure before his departure.
 

bombthreat23

TRIBE Member
this story is a bit outrageous. brian burke is suing the internet for making fun of him.

"Slobberface" is, i believe, someone who posts on the toronto jungle message board.

i believe the statute of limitations would bar any lawsuit from russell crowe or else we'd all be in trouble.
That Russell Crowe thing...good times:)
g.
 

Chris

Well-Known TRIBEr
this story is a bit outrageous. brian burke is suing the internet for making fun of him.

"Slobberface" is, i believe, someone who posts on the toronto jungle message board.

i believe the statute of limitations would bar any lawsuit from russell crowe or else we'd all be in trouble.
LMAO, so true
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
Where were these people posting this stuff about him? On news site comments sections?
 
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ndrwrld

TRIBE Member
someone on here hinted about something, i asked about it, and was told to look elsewhere. i can't seem to find the conversation.
 

videotronic

TRIBE Member
must have been a false flag. maybe the FBI and/or CIA is behind it! i bet if you look in between the lines no one actually knows where burke was that morning when the planes hit the towers!
 

sianspherica

TRIBE Member
I sort of know Slobber, he's in my baseball pool, good guy.

but the story is fucking ludicrous, so dumb that everyone has to lawyer up over this.
 

SneakyPete

TRIBE Member
I doubt this will go to trial and even if it does I don't like his chance of winning. But I am not a lawyer what do I know.
 
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Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
Brian Burke cyber-libel suit a reminder anonymous Internet commentators can be unmasked | Toronto Star

Brian Burke cyber-libel suit a reminder anonymous Internet commentators can be unmasked
What is written online, even anonymously, can come back to bite the authors.

By: Amy Dempsey GTA, Published on Sat Apr 27 2013


Former Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has launched a defamation lawuit over anonymous bloggers spreading lies.

In this age of nameless, faceless pontification, many have been targets of the world’s basement-dwelling spreaders of gossip and hate.

At least, people tend to think of them as basement-dwellers, so dark and filthy are their anonymous words. But who knows, really, where and who they really are? Few ever find out.

Brian Burke’s mission to unmask 18 anonymous commentators who he alleges defamed him underscores a point many are learning the hard way as cyber-libel cases become increasingly common: What is written online, even anonymously, can come back to bite the authors.

“This will be a very public reminder to people that you can get sued for what you publish on the Internet,” said Ryder Gilliland, a Toronto libel lawyer.

Burke, former general manager of the Maple Leafs, launched a civil suit Friday against “poonerman,” “sir psycho sexy,” “KaBoomin8” and 15 other anonymous bloggers and online commentators who allegedly “spread lies over the Internet” after he was fired earlier this year.

A notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court alleges the unknown defendants defamed Burke by falsely suggesting he had an extramarital affair with Sportsnet anchor Hazel Mae and that he fathered her child.

It seeks an injunction against the defendants from publishing further “defamatory statements” as well as damages, interest and costs. The claim has not been proven in court and no statement of defence has been filed.

Burke’s move made the rumour far more public than it was before the lawsuit, but allowed him to categorically deny it.

The drawbacks of engaging in a public legal battle deter many from taking action against cyber defamers, lawyers say.

“Oftentimes when someone who’s a victim of defamation comes to see me I have to tell them the best advice is probably not to do anything at all because the impending lawsuit is going to receive more publicity and attract more attention to the original defamatory comments than just leaving them alone,” said Michael Smith, a Toronto lawyer who practises defamation law.

That didn’t deter Burke, who said in a statement Friday that he felt it was “time to stop people who post comments on the Internet from thinking they can fabricate wild stories with impunity.”

Burke’s next step is to apply for court orders compelling web hosts or Internet service providers to hand over information that would help identify the defendants, which is something that judges in Canada are generally willing to do, depending on the strength of the case.

“Mechanisms to unmask are well-established,” said Roger McConchie, a Vancouver-based defamation lawyer.

But it is likely to be an arduous process.

David Potts, a Toronto lawyer and cyber-libel expert, says engaging in an online defamation suit is like guerrilla warfare.

“You don’t know your enemies. It can be spread over different jurisdictions. You can play what’s called digital Whac-A-Mole with them — in other words you knock ‘em down from one website and then they move to another,” Potts says.

“You have to be concerned that every action you take does not evoke a much worse counter reaction.”

A statement issued by Mae’s lawyer Saturday said she is still considering her legal options.

“Hazel Mae fully supports the lawsuit brought forth by Mr. Burke and feels strongly that people should be held accountable for writing and spreading malicious lies over the Internet,” the statement said.

At least one of the 18 named in Burke’s lawsuit responded late Friday, anonymously, to the allegations.

“Brian Burke is suing me,” read an update from the Twitter user @THEzbrad. “I think he’s just angry that ‘his’ Toronto team finally made the playoffs. Sorry Burkey.”

“THEzbrad” is one of the defendants named in the civil claim.

In a blog post connected to the Twitter account, a writer described the lawsuit as “ridiculous” and said it targeted comments from “a post that was written on this blog.” The alleged defamatory post has been removed, but an archived Google page shows that the author characterized the Burke-Mae story as “speculation” and “rumours.”

“Burke obviously did not appreciate these few comments,” the blogger wrote, “but the fact that he is going to attempt to sue online commentators is pretty hilarious.”
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I guess Burke would first have to establish the real identities of the aliases. Unless these people give their names up voluntarily, or their friends rat them out, he is going to have a hard time doing that. I think he would have to get court orders to force the respective online properties to divulge the real names, if the admins even know the real names associated with the accounts.

None of the mentioned usernames are on TRIBE as far as I know, but if they were, I would not divulge any kind of identifying information to anybody, unless I was ordered to do so by a Canadian court, and even then I don't know what people's real names are most of the time anyway, and in fact only know many people by their board names, so a court order might be a total waste of effort.

I would think major news organizations would fight a court order to reveal the identities of people posting in their comment sections all the way to the highest court in the land because they have the deep pockets to do that. Or they might just throw their users under the bus, which would not surprise me as most mainstream news sites are owned by various combinations of Canadian Telecom companies.
 

sianspherica

TRIBE Member
I think the issue is if a court forced a message board owner to divulge not only the email address of a registered user, but their IP address, and then the court would subpoena the ISP to provide the name of customer behind that IP address.

Still then it might be difficult to PROVE that the user behind the IP address undeniably is the message board commentator.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I think the issue is if a court forced a message board owner to divulge not only the email address of a registered user, but their IP address, and then the court would subpoena the ISP to provide the name of customer behind that IP address.

Still then it might be difficult to PROVE that the user behind the IP address undeniably is the message board commentator.

I think he would have to get a court order for each step in that process. It is going to take years. Maybe this should be made into a TV reality show!
 
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Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
seriously, will this be brian burke's legacy in toronto? suing trolls on a message board? i would volunteer to be an expert witness on message boards, testifying that a high percentage of message board content is incorrect and a high percentage is defamatory. message board content is so rife with inaccuracies that it is idiotic to argue that brian burke's reputation was hurt by the postings.

his reputation will be hurt far more by this lawsuit. i was ambivalent about him yesterday. today i think he's a complete f*cking toolbox.

this is a ridiculous legal claim that should be laughed out of court. it is unfortunate that some message board posters may have to spend time and money defending themselves against this bullshit.

anyone directly involved should say they often have friends over who post stupid things under their account. don't we all?
 

SneakyPete

TRIBE Member
I learned this from watching Damages, but if this thing goes ahead wouldn't he possibly be subjected to a deposition? Could open a whole can of worms if he had anything to hide.
 
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