Minnesota Litigator has criticized mainstream media (the Star Tribune, mostly) for their often repeated failure to link to complaints when they pull their news stories from complaints filed in courts (but, we also give credit when due, see here).
First, they are depriving their readership of a “deeper dive” into the allegations. Second, they rarely identify the lawyers in the articles, the authors of the complaints in most cases. This information interests many readers. Third, to us, it seems that journalists are concealing their articles’ reliance on pleadings, when their stories are almost entirely reliant on the pleadings but they do not link to their source.
But there are some good arguments in favor of NOT linking to pleadings, at least in some cases. As most lawyers know, pleadings enjoy an “absolute privilege” (total freedom from any claims of defamation) so it seems that, sometimes, linking to a pleading would literally and recklessly publish harmful falsehoods about a person or an organization (see, e.g., here).
Right or wrong, these thoughts came to mind when we noted the recent FDCPA class action complaint brought against the Bassford Remele law firm. (FDCPA = the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.) That is, we wonder whether the complaint tells only a part of the story and, in doing so, paints a misleading picture.
Plaintiff Matthew Neist is represented by the often-disciplined Minnesota litigator, Thomas Lyons Jr. (et al.) and the claim is that the Bassford law firm sent Mr. Neist a debt collection letter that did not actually identify the amount of the debt to be collected. This, Mr. Neist’s lawyers allege, is in violation of the FCDPA.
“Pay up, or else! But we’re not inclined to tell you how much you owe…(?) Could there be more to this story?
We suspect so. But we will have to follow the case further to figure that out. Stay tuned.