"Prolific litigant" bought $40 used printer then sued seller for $30,000

Doug Costello, 66, sold a printer on craigslist for $40. The buyer—described as a "prolific, abusive litigant"—alleged it was broken and sued him claiming astronomical damages. The resulting artisanal interstate legal snarl has cost Costello $12,000 so far. USA Today reports on a mess that's still not over after 7 years.

The printer's buyer was Gersh Zavodnik, a 54-year-old Indianapolis man known to many in the legal community as a frequent lawsuit filer who also represents himself in court. The Indiana Supreme Court said the "prolific, abusive litigant" has brought dozens of lawsuits against individuals and businesses, often asking for astronomical damages. Most, according to court records, involve online sales and transactions.

Small claims court wasn't interested, but Zavodnik's pro se actions were relentless. Even though they were insane, that's the point: Costello's failure to respond meant a default verdict for the plaintiff.

Zavodnik also had sent Costello two more requests for admissions. One asked Costello to admit that he conspired with the judge presiding over the case, and that he was liable for more than $300,000. Another one requested Costello to admit that he was liable for more than $600,000.< Because Costello did not respond to all three requests for admissions within 30 days of receiving them, and did not ask for an extension of time, as required by Indiana trial rules, Costello admitted to the liabilities and damages by default. He also did not appear at a July 2013 hearing, according to court records.

And so was necessitated the hiring of very expensive lawywers. Zavodnik appears to be a master of plinking the legal system until he shops his way to a useful-enough judge.

Wuertz said the case went through several Marion County judges, many of whom recused themselves. At one point, Zavodnik sought to have a judge removed, and the Supreme Court appointed a special judge from Boone County.

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Some ad-blockers are tracking you, shaking down publishers, and showing you ads

The ad-subsidized Web is at a crossroads: faced with pressure from social media platform, publishers are accepting ever-more-intrusive ads, which combine with the mounting public concern over privacy and tracking to encourage ad-blocking, which, in turn, makes publishers more desperate and more biddable to the darkest surveillance and pop-up desires of advertisers. Read the rest

Getty charges blog $868 for Socially Awkward Penguin meme images, demands silence

Getty Images recently billed a German women's geek culture blog $868 for a 2012 blog post that contained Socially Awkward Penguin meme images. Getty also insisted that the blog, Geek Sisters, keep quiet about it.

Socially Awkward Penguin is a 6-year-old meme that has appeared countless times on Reddit, blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts. The penguin photo in the meme was taken by George F. Mobley for National Geographic and usage licenses are available from Getty.

Get Digital, the parent site of Geek Sisters, paid the fee, but it is not keeping quiet about it as Getty insists. Here's a post about Getty's threat to bring in the attack lawyers if Geek Sisters mentions having to pay the fee (original text is in German, the following is from Google Translate):

After some more exchanging e-mails with the answer Getty became clear: Since the legal situation appeared quite clear we agreed on paying the amount claimed and of course we deleted the images. As a result Getty pointed out that we were obliged to maintain silence about this case otherwise their lawyers would take over. : O

Of course that is something we can not accept. We informed Getty that we would agree on everything (including the payment) except for the confidential treatment. Apparently this is not acceptable for Getty as they repeated their answer saying that in this case an agreement would not be possible and they would hand it over to their lawyers. Here is the presumed reason why it is NOT POSSIBLE to find anything about this case on the internet:

Getty is simply threatening to contact lawyers in order to force the affected persons to maintain silence and just pay the amount claimed!

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"Potential Prostitutes" site lets users label women as prostitutes, charges "removal" fees

Potential Prostitutes is only the latest sleazy site to wed personal photos to public humiliation. Its offer to publicize anonymous claims of sex crimes, however, is a novelty: any woman may be be anonymously tagged as a prostitute.

The site accepts anonymous submissions through an online form and promises to post uploads in a browsable "offender" database seeded with mugshots of convicted prostitutes. Entries may be removed by those listed—so long as they pay a hefty removal fee. Read the rest