Miami Heat minority owner Raanan Katz is a bit thin-skinned. Though he boasts a gratuitous public persona -- there's even an official day and street named after him in Sunny Isles -- he still wants all the benefits of privacy.
In 2010, he sued Aventura blogger Irina Chevaldina, who operates rkassociatesusa.blogspot.com. She had accused Katz, who's a prominent real estate developer, of perpetuating "rip-offs" and "law breaking," sourcing her allegations with articles and court documents.
At the time, Katz's attorneys advised us against writing about the litigation. "You're being used as a pawn," Todd Levine warned us. "They're using you to make Katz a public figure and to further spread the defamatory content on that blog."
Then in 2012, Katz took the chess match one step further and sued Google -- yes, Google -- after the blogger used the above photo depicting Katz looking especially derpy. The picture so shamed Katz, who was a star basketball player in Israel, that in his court documents over the matter, he blotted out his own face. "It has been partially distorted due to its unflattering nature," the lawsuit says.
But this was just one turnoff in a road of many forks. That same year, though there was no proof whatsoever the blogger had actually defamed Katz -- a fact the trial court readily confirmed -- the minority owner still won an injunction against her.
The Court, having reviewed the file, heard argument of counsel, considered limited testimony, and admitted evidence, makes no finding of facts as to actual violations of law by the Defendants, except that the Defendants have blogged extensively about the Plaintiff and many of these blogs are arguably defamatory.
Critical minds exploded. Said Deadspin at the time: "I believe this is known in jurisprudence as the "I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'" doctrine. If you were explaining state actions and prior restraints to a slow 6-year-old, this is the example you would use to illustrate the point."
But yesterday that bogus ruling, which imposed an injunction and sidestepped the nettlesome requisite of proving defamation, was overturned.
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Florida's Third District Court of Appeal ruled that personal blogs are the technological evolution of how people have always inveighed against an enemies. "These rants are essentially the electronic successor of holding a poster on a public sidewalk in front of an auto dealership that proclaimed, 'DON'T BUY HERE! ONLY LEMONS FROM THESE CROOKS!"
So looks like Katz -- and that pic -- are fair game once more.