Monday, October 24, 2011

Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne Defies Court Order

The libel suit against Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne is getting more interesting by the moment. Yesterday I pointed out that Byrne posted a message on a bulletin board implying that the defendant in the case, a Canadian stock promoter named Ali Nazerali, was a criminal.

Now it emerges that, by so doing, Byrne defied a court order, issued by the court last week, prohibiting him from making statements about Nazerali anywhere on the Internet. See the summary above, from the British Columbia courts website. The injunction prohibits Byrne from making comments about Nazerali at his Deep Capture libel factory "or elsewhere."

Here, see for yourself (people getting this blog via email will need to click on the hyperlink):

Injunction Against Patrick Byrne Et Al in Libel Suit

Other interesting details from the order: the domain name cannot be transferred, and Google is not supposed to include Deep Capture in search results, which so far hasn't happened.

This would be pretty draconian if it happened to a journalistic organization. But Deep Capture is a corporate p.r. outfit, as the Society of Business Editors and Writers pointed out in a letter to Byrne (see below), proudly posted on Deep Capture.



I don't think Byrne understands that this is not the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is investigating him for financial fraud, or the Oakland court where Overstock is on trial for consumer fraud. This is a Canadian court where a resident of Canada has filed suit against him for making stuff up. Behavior like this is called "contempt of court." But even that isn't quite as important as the malice and recklessness that it demonstrates.

And just think: this costly legal mess originated because Mark Mitchell, the disgraced former journalist working for Byrne, recycled some old stories about Nazerali -- without attribution or credit -- and embellished them. Darned if I know why Columbia Journalism Review dispensed with his services.

Stay tuned. Next logical step, I would think: adding Overstock.com, which does business in Canada, to the lawsuit.

The comments section to this article contains an interesting post on the horrid position Byrne's defiance places Overstock's inert board of directors.

A copy of the lawsuit is below:

Libel Suit against Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne and Mark Mitchell

© 2011 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.
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AYN RAND NATION: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, will be published by St. Martin's Press on Feb. 28, 2012. Click here to pre-order the book from Amazon.com, and here to pre-order from Barnes & Noble.

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