• Report: #445743

Complaint Review: Lisa Blockowicz

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  • Submitted: Wed, April 22, 2009
  • Updated: Tue, December 29, 2009

  • Reported By:Winnetka Illinois
Lisa Blockowicz
310 Euclid Ave Winnetka, Illinois United States of America
  • Phone:
  • Web:
  • Category: Liars

Lisa Blockowicz - Julie Bevans Blockowicz - Lisa Marshall - Lisa Kelley - Lisa McKenne (((REDACTED))) Winnetka Illinois. *UPDATE: Ripoff Reports Official Statement - Blockowicz v. Williams

*General Comment: Ripoff Report Responds to Inaccurate Media Coverage

*Consumer Comment: Real Scoop re This On-line Defamation

*Consumer Comment: SOUNDS LIKE A PERSONAL PROBLEM TO ME!

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Ripoff Report’s Official Statement RegardingSeventh Circuit’s Decision in Blockowicz v. Williams

Imagine this -- someone you don’t know knocks on your door and hands you a court order. The order was issued by a court in another state. You don’t know any of the parties to the case. You have never even heard of the case before this moment.

Despite these facts, the order affects your rights in a major way. Maybe the order says that you must pay a lot of money to someone you’ve never heard of. Maybe the order says that you are no longer allowed to do something that’s important to your business. Maybe the order says that you must do something you don’t want to do.

Whatever it says, would you comply with such an order? Do you even have a choice? What would you do?

Bear in mind – you’ve never had your day in court so you don’t know why this order was issued, whether it was correctly issued, whether any defenses exist and whether there were any mistakes made by the court or by the other parties. You’re completely in the dark at this point. So, what do you do?

Ripoff Report was recently faced with exactly this dilemma. In keeping with our core mission of protecting speech to the fullest extent of the law, we decided that it was not just our right but also our duty to ask questions and dig deeper before we could comply with such an order. After all, as Benjamin Franklin once said, "It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority."

The basic facts of the case were as follows. On October 13, 2009, we received a letter from a law firm in Chicago asking us to comply with an injunction issued in a case called Blockowicz v. Williams. Until this letter arrived, we had never heard of the case.

You can view a copy of this letter here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/24464314/Letter-From-Plaintiffs-Counsel-Complaint

Without going into every detail of the case, this letter demanded that we comply with an order which required the removal of statements posted on several websites, including the Ripoff Report. Reading between the lines, this letter threatened to drag Ripoff Report into court if we did not comply.

Because lawsuits are extremely expensive, and because removing speech is a quick and easy way to avoid getting sued, most websites would immediately comply with this type of order without questioning whether the order was valid or even correctly issued.

Ripoff Report isn’t like most websites.

Other sites claim they support free speech, but when the going gets rough, they will usually protect their bottom line rather than the Constitutional rights and freedoms this country was founded upon. Unlike other sites, even when the speech involved is harsh or negative and even if our position sometimes generates negative press for us, we think that the First Amendment requires us to put our principles before our pocketbook and fight against censorship.

Because we could not and would not agree to comply with an order issued in this context, the plaintiffs promptly followed through on their threat by demanding that the federal court expand its injunction to make it clear that Ripoff Report was bound even though we were never a party to the case.

If you are interested, you can view the actual pleadings from the case here:

Plaintiffs’ Motion for Third Party Enforcement: http://www.scribd.com/doc/24464344/Motion-for-Third-Party-Enforcement

Ripoff Report’s Response: http://www.scribd.com/doc/24464370/Ripoff-Report-Response-to-Motion-for-Third-Party-enforcement

Plaintiffs’ Reply: http://www.scribd.com/Plaintiffs-Reply-re-motion-for-third-party-enforcement/d/24464407

After the matter was fully briefed and argued, the federal court in Illinois agreed with Ripoff Report and found that we were not legally required to comply with the injunction. A copy of the district court’s decision is available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/26223400/Blockowicz-v-Williams-2009-WL-4929111-N-D-Ill-2009

Unwilling to accept the court’s decision, the plaintiffs appealed the case to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On December 27, 2010, the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling which affirmed the district court’s decision in all respects.

A copy of the Seventh Circuit’s decision is available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/45952311/Blockowicz-v-Williams-Case-No-10-1167-7th-Cir-2010

In short, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the lower Court and with Ripoff Report’s arguments that an injunction against the author of a posting on a website is not binding on the operator of the website who was not a party to the case. Why? In the simplest terms: in America everyone is entitled to their day in court and the website never had its day in court.

Despite all this, some of our critics have said that Ripoff Report should still “do the right thing” and remove the reports about Mr. and Mrs. Blockowicz even though the law does not require us to do so. After all, the Blockowicz family obtained an order from a federal court which concludes that the statements involved were false and defamatory. Given this, doesn’t logic and simple common decency require them to be removed?

Like any other opinion, reasonable minds may differ as to what’s right and wrong. However, in our view, the removal of speech is essentially like a First Amendment death penalty – it’s a permanent and irreversible decision that should only be applied in the most extreme cases and only where the evidence resolves every possible doubt. For reasons we have already explained in the comments to each report, we believe that the facts of this case do not warrant the application of such a severe penalty here and therefore removal of the reports is simply not appropriate. Having said that, although the existing reports remain visible in their original form, we have made minor redactions to the titles of the affected reports to remove language that was needlessly offensive and profane. Furthermore, despite our decision not to remove this text, anyone reading these reports should keep in mind that a court order has been entered which finds the statements below are not true.

===== Now to the original Report that was posted =====

Lisa Blockowicz is a diseased scumbag compulsive liar who is famous for telling people that she is a producer on for the Oprah Winfrey Show. In reality, Lisa is a multiple 12-stepper (Overeaters, Alcoholics, Adult-Children of Alcoholics, etc, etc, etc). Unfortunately, until they come out with CLA (Compulsive Liars' Anonymous), Lisa Blockowicz will not get the help she requires. This is a warning to all who come in contact with this manipulative, dishonest woman...Lisa is an expert at playing the hapless, helpless victim until she decides to point her accusatory finger at you...then watch out! Lisa Blockowicz enjoys masquerading as a heterosexual woman...she's not. Lisa has repeatedly entered Adult Gentleman's Clubs and confronted management for "exploiting the women who work there". She proclaims that this is her feminist duty. Additionally, anything that you do not want stolen from your home should be super-glued to wherever or whatever it is on or it will eventually disappear post-haste. Lisa Blockowicz is the consummate scumbag sister of Megan Blockowicz aka Katie Kelley who is currently incarcerated at the Southern Nevada Correctional Facility for Women. This dynamic duo has spent many years cultivating their talent for blaming men for victimizing and brutalizing them. Unfortunately, they are the ones that hurt anyone that has the misfortune of coming into contact with them. Avoid this woman or face the perils of her mental illness. Let this be a warning to all-you do not want to become involved with Lisa Blockowicz!

Lisa Winnetka, Illinois
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/22/2009 08:06 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Lisa-Blockowicz/Winnetka-Illinois-60093/Lisa-Blockowicz-Julie-Bevans-Blockowicz-Lisa-Marshall-Lisa-Kelley-Lisa-McKenne--445743. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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#1 General Comment

Ripoff Report Responds to Inaccurate Media Coverage

AUTHOR: David - (USA)

Hello everyone. My name is David and I am general counsel for www.RipoffReport.com. I am the person who handled the Blockowicz v. Williams case on behalf of the Ripoff Report.

I normally prefer not to comment on the outcome of specific cases. However, the reporting on this case has been horribly inaccurate and incomplete, to the point that it is seriously misleading people about the facts of this case and the reasons for the result. While people can and should debate these important issues, doing so based on inaccurate and incomplete facts is helpful to no one. With that in mind, here are some additional facts which may help you to reach an informed decision about the outcome of this case.

BACKGROUND HISTORY

First of all, this case involved three separate postings on the Ripoff Report site. The first two posts were made in October 2003. Links to these posts are here:

Post #1: October 15, 2003
http://www.ripoffreport.com/dead-beat-moms/megan-blockowicz-aka/megan-blockowicz-aka-megan-s-wfbbc.htm

Post #2: October 31, 2003
http://www.ripoffreport.com/Prostitutes/Megan-Blockowicz-Mar/megan-blockowicz-mary-blockow-47e98.htm

Post #3: April 22, 2009
http://www.ripoffreport.com/liars/lisa-blockowicz/lisa-blockowicz-julie-bevans-7y56d.htm

The first two posts are the source of many of the statements which are allegedly defamatory. If you review them, you will note that both of the posts focus primarily on Megan Blockowicz. Thats important because Megan Blockowicz was NOT a plaintiff in the Blockowicz v. Williams lawsuit. Rather, the only parties to that case were Megans adoptive parents, David and Mary Blockowicz, and their other daughter, Lisa Blockowicz. Why is that important? Because as a general rule, in order to sue someone for defamation, the statements at issue have to be about you, not about a family member.

A second comment about these first two posts both were made in 2003, and the lawsuit was not filed until six years later in 2009. Why is that important? Because most states (including Illinois, where this action was filed) have very short statutes of limitation for defamation claims. The reason for this is because protecting free speech is extremely important, and if someone is really the target of false statements, the law expects them to act immediately before memories fade and evidence is lost. If a plaintiff fails to act promptly and they bring their lawsuit even one day after the statute of limitations expires, the law will forever bar them from suing on those claims.

In this instance, Illinois law provides that defamation claims are subject to a one-year limitations period which begins to run on the date the offending statements are posted, not the date when the plaintiffs discover them. Thus, any claims based on the first two posts would have expired as a matter of law in October 2004 nearly half a decade prior to this lawsuit being filed.

So why didnt the judge see this initially? After all, people reporting on this story have stated that a federal court found the statements to be false and ordered them to be removed. How could the judge make those findings if the statements were really so old? Why wouldnt the judge simply throw out the case, at least as to those older statements?

The answer to that question is that this case did not involve a trial. Instead, the case ended with a default judgment which means that the defendants did not appear (this is treated like a forfeit in sports). For the reasons explained later below, the fact that the defendants did not appear here is not necessarily surprising, nor does it mean they would have lost if they had appeared.

However, when a defendant defaults, the judge basically takes the plaintiff at their word and assumes the plaintiffs claims are true even if they arent true. So what did the plaintiffs tell the judge about the posting date of these reports?

In Paragraph 11 of their Complaint (which you can read here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/24464314/Letter-From-Plaintiffs-Counsel-Complaint , the plaintiffs listed some of the offending statements but they failed to inform the judge that the first two posts were made in 2003. In fact, the actual posting date is conspicuously missing and is not found anywhere in the Complaint. Rather, in Paragraph 13 of the Complaint, the plaintiffs claim that the Defendants update the false posts and reports from time to time, including as recently as March and April 2009, by revising the original reports.

In other words, the plaintiffs Complaint never informed the judge that the first two reports were from 2003. Instead, they alleged that the statements were updated/revised in 2009. If that was true, the statute of limitations probably would not have barred claims based on the older two postings. However, because this case ended in a default judgment, there was no trial and no defense lawyer or anyone else to point out these problems, so the judge simply assumed that the plaintiffs were being truthful.

The plaintiffs later admitted that, in fact, they were aware that the first posts were actually made in 2003, not 2009. In addition, they stated many of the allegations about Megans legal history were true. Heres a direct quote from the declaration of David Blockowicz filed with the court:

In or around 2003, I became aware that Mr. Williams and/or his associate, Michelle Ramey, were posting inflammatory statements regarding Megan and her family on the internet, including at sites such as . While there appeared to be some elements of truth in these statements to the extent they related to Megan, the statements were exaggerated and intended to paint Megan in as negative a light as possible while painting Mr. Williams in as positive a light as possible.

Obviously, those who have written about this case have assumed that all of the statements at issue were false. If they had reviewed the court record first, they would have seen that wasnt the case. No matter how rude or unkind a statement may be, the First Amendment absolutely protects the right of people to express their views truthfully.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF LAWSUIT

In order to understand the outcome here, it is also important to understand the procedural events which occurred previously in the case. The lawsuit was filed on June 30, 2009 against two defendants David Williams and Michelle Ramey. Apparently Mr. Williams was the ex-husband of Megan Blockowicz. We have no idea who Ms. Ramey is or why the plaintiffs believe she had anything to do with these statements.

On the same day the Complaint was filed, the Plaintiffs also filed a motion asking the court for a preliminary injunction which would require all of the offending statements to be removed.

Under Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, copies the summons and Complaint are normally required to be personally served on each defendant. Obviously, the goal of personal service is to make sure each defendant is aware of the case so they can appear and explain their side of the story, raise any defenses which may apply, and so forth. By the same token, judgments which are entered without personal service are subject to later attack on the basis that they are void.

According to the court docket, neither the Complaint nor any of the related pleadings were ever personally served on Mr. Williams or Ms. Ramey. Instead, six weeks after the case began, on August 17, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a motion asking the court for permission to serve the defendants using alternative means; i.e., means not authorized by the Rules of Civil Procedure. Courts can and do routinely grant these types of requests, but even when they do, it does not prevent the defendant from seeking to vacate the judgment at any point in the future if they can show that they did not receive actual notice of the case. Assuming the defendant can show that they did not receive actual notice and that they have a colorable defense, the judgment would be considered void and the court would be required to vacate it.

According to their motion and supporting declaration, the plaintiffs were not able to personally serve Mr. Williams or Ms. Ramey because they did not have an address for them. According to the plaintiffs lawyer, he conducted an Internet public record search and found an address in Oregon for David Williams (not an uncommon name; a Google search for David Williams in quotes produces nearly 2 million hits). This address turned out to be a rented mailbox. Copies of the pleadings were mailed to that address, but there was no evidence they were actually received by Mr. Williams or that the person renting the box was even the right David Williams. In addition, the plaintiffs lawyer stated that he had sent copies of the legal pleadings to an email address which he believed belonged to Mr. Williams. However, plaintiffs never attempted to contact Ripoff Report asking if we had contact information for the authors of the three posts (we do).

The record does not reflect that any efforts were ever made to serve Ms. Ramey other than by sending mail to the PO box for Mr. Williams.

Three days after their motion was filed, on August 20, 2009, the judge issued an order stating that plaintiffs efforts were sufficient and that no further attempts at service were required. There is no evidence in the record that this order was ever sent to or received by Mr. Williams or Ms. Ramey. Not surprisingly, since none of the papers were ever personally served, no one appeared or filed an Answer on behalf of the defendants.

A little more than a month later, on October 1, 2009 the plaintiffs filed a motion asking the court to enter a judgment by default. Five days later, the court entered a default judgment and a permanent injunction which required the defendants (Mr. Williams and Ms. Ramey) to remove the statements identified in the plaintiffs Complaint.

RIPOFF REPORTS INVOLVEMENT

One week after the default judgment was entered, on October 13, 2009 Ripoff Report was approached via email by the lawyer for the plaintiffs. The email included an attached cover letter and copies of the Complaint and default judgment; available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/24464314/Letter-From-Plaintiffs-Counsel-Complaint . Prior to receiving this letter, Ripoff Report had never been contacted by any of the plaintiffs regarding these postings.

As a general rule, due to the millions of posts on our site and the huge volume of takedown demands we receive, we normally cannot and do not spend a great deal of time investigating each specific demand. However, upon reviewing the material sent by plaintiffs counsel, several red flags were immediately present that caused serious concerns.

First, according to paragraph 10 of the Complaint, the plaintiffs stated that RipoffReport.com often attempts to charge individuals and companies money if they wish to respond to reports . This offensive allegation was and is completely false and is similar to other false claims which have been proven groundless in other cases. The fact that such a bogus claim was presented caused us to question the legitimacy of the other allegations in the case, so we decided to give this one a closer look.

During that process, we immediately noted that two of the three postings were made in 2003. Since the statute of limitations for defamation claims in Illinois is only one year, we were baffled at how anyone could obtain a court order requiring the removal of such old material when claims based on these posts would have expired half a decade ago.

Next, we noticed that the first two posts were not primarily about the plaintiffs; they were about Megan Blockowicz who was never a party to the case. In addition, many of the statements (such as those referring to Megan Blockowicz as a scumbag) were clearly the opinions of the author. As a basic matter of defamation law, opinions generally cannot be proven to be either true or false, so it is normally impossible for an opinion to support a defamation claim. By extension, courts generally cannot issue injunctions prohibiting people from expressing their opinions. Such an injunction would be unconstitutional on its face.

We also reviewed the docket and determined that the judgment was not entered after a full trial on the merits as should normally occur. Instead, it was obtained by default (meaning there was no trial) and the docket reflected that the defendants Mr. Williams and Ms. Ramey were never personally served they were served via email (albeit with the courts consent).

The final red flag was found in our own records we pulled our server logs to determine whether the people who had been named as defendants (David Williams and Michelle Ramey) were actually the authors of the three reports at issue. What we found was that our logs showed there were three different authors with different names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and, yes, three different IP addresses. Although the authors may have provided fake names, none of the information such as the email addresses (which Ripoff Report automatically confirms before allowing any posts) was consistent with the information obtained by the plaintiffs. This raised the possibility that Mr. Williams and/or Ms. Ramey did not create the posts and that the plaintiffs had therefore sued the wrong defendants.

Based on these substantial concerns and our general policy against removing reports, we advised the lawyer for the Blockowicz family that Ripoff Report could not agree to remove the posts.

THE COURTS DECISION

Because we would not agree to remove the posts, on Thursday, October 29, 2009, we received an email containing a motion filed by the plaintiffs asking the court to enforce the injunction entered against Mr. Williams and Ms. Ramey by requiring Ripoff Report to remove the three reports about Megan Blockowicz and her family. Normally, parties are allowed at least three weeks to prepare a brief responding to such motions, but in this case, the plaintiffs attorney set a hearing in Chicago the following week, meaning we had only a few days to respond.

In their motion, the plaintiffs lawyer accused us of actively aiding and abetting the defendants violation of the injunction based on our simple greed. The brief also argued that, in effect, Ripoff Report did not even deserve to have a day in court.

In response, we explained that although the plaintiffs had presented a story which looked very sympathetic, the true facts were significantly different. We noted that the first two posts were made in 2003, not 2009, and that the plaintiffs had produced no evidence that Mr. Williams and Ms. Ramey were actually responsible for creating these posts (these were simply unproven allegations). We also pointed out that the plaintiffs admitted many of the statements about Megan Blockowicz were true. Finally, we noted that we were not aiding and abetting Mr. Williams or Ms. Ramey and that the plaintiffs had never bothered to send the injunction to them (NOTE: injunctions are not enforceable against anyone, even those named as parties, unless and until the defendants receive actual notice that they have been enjoined. This did not occur here because there is nothing in the record showing the plaintiffs ever sent the injunction to Mr. Williams or Ms. Ramey).

After reviewing our initial brief, the court asked for additional briefing, which we provided. In the end the judge found that the law simply does not permit an injunction against one person to be transferred to someone else without giving that person an opportunity to respond.

If that doesnt make sense, consider this example say a person files a lawsuit against someone else claiming that they improperly took control of bank account # 123-456. The defendant is never served with the lawsuit and they fail to appear, so the court issues an order saying that bank account #123-456 must be immediately transferred to the plaintiff. What happens if that account actually belongs to YOU? Would you expect the bank to just comply with the order and give all your money to the plaintiff without allowing you to be heard? Is that fair?

While I admit the facts arent exactly the same, legally this is exactly what the plaintiffs attempted to do here. Regardless of the offensive nature of the statements, the Ripoff Report believed that the free speech implications of this tactic were too important to ignore. In other words, while we dont necessarily defend the actual speech involved here, we felt that the process used by the plaintiffs was inconsistent with the First Amendment.

Many people have also commented that this decision was based on the immunity conferred by the Communications Decency Act, and then have implied that the ruling means that the CDA bars all injunctive relief against websites.

That conclusion is incorrect. Although many cases have held that the CDA bars injunctive relief against websites, nothing in the courts ruling was based on the CDA. Rather, the decision was primarily based on the notion that in the United States, courts will not suppress or censor speech without first giving the affected party the right to be heard. In this case, all that means is that if the plaintiffs want to remove speech from Ripoff Report (or any other site), they are obligated to make the site a party to the case so it can decide whether to defend the statements or not.

FINAL COMMENTS

Okay, so now that youve heard our legal position, many people may still ask why wont Ripoff Report just do the right thing and remove these statements? Why would you have a policy that says you dont investigate reports and yet you also wont remove reports?

First of all, as explained above, no one has proven these statements are false. In fact, the plaintiffs admitted that many of the statements about Megan were true. No matter how much we may dislike what is said, in this country the First Amendment does not allow the censorship of true speech.

Second, statements which call someone a scumbag are certainly unkind, but we do not suppress speech simply because it may offend someone. In fact, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly explained that the opposite is true:

[T]he fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. Indeed, if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas.

FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726, 745-46, 98 S.Ct. 3026, 3038, 57 L.Ed.2d 1073 (1978) (emphasis added). In short, the antidote for unpopular or cruel speech is not censorship; it is more speech.

Truth be told, on occasion we may remove reports when its clearly appropriate to do so. But this was not such a case. Here, because the plaintiffs never bothered to contact us prior to filing their lawsuit, we were never given any opportunity to decide whether to work with them to delete or redact parts of these reports. In addition, by making false statements against us in court which cost tens of thousands of dollars to defend, the plaintiffs lawyer made it extremely difficult for us to consider voluntarily agreeing to remove these reports.

In closing, while I do not expect everyone to agree with our decisions and policies, I think its important to understand that there are two sides to this story. Now that you have heard ours, I welcome any comments/opinions that anyone may wish to share with me david@ripoffreport.com ..
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#2 Consumer Comment

Real Scoop re This On-line Defamation

AUTHOR: razrlazr - (United States of America)

I read this Ars Technica article:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/12/justice-elusive-for-chicago-family-defamed-online.ars

and decided to check out the original for myself. After doing so, it looks like the original poster has a personal vendetta against this family.  I agree it sounds like a personal problem the original poster has. Give it a rest dude, you sound like a menace to society.


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#3 Consumer Comment

SOUNDS LIKE A PERSONAL PROBLEM TO ME!

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

DUDE, YOU SHOULD TAKE THIS BITTER BREAK -UP TO THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOWS.

YOU GOT UNRESOLVED ISSUES.
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