Friday, April 25, 2014



GUS GHANAM, Plaintiff-Appellee,
JOHN DOES, Defendants, and
JOSEPH MUNEM, Appellant.

No. 312201.
Court of Appeals of Michigan.
January 2, 2014.
Before: TALBOT, P.J., and WILDER and STEPHENS, JJ.
Appellant Joseph Munem appeals by leave granted from the circuit court's order denying his motion for a protective order barring discovery. Plaintiff seeks to depose Munem to discover the identities of persons who allegedly made defamatory statements about him on an Internet message board. Munem seeks to keep the identities of those people anonymous. We reverse and remand for the trial court to enter judgment in favor of defendants."

"The context and forum in which statements appear also affect whether a reasonable reader would interpret them as asserting provable facts. Courts that have considered the matter have concluded that Internet message boards and similar communications are generally regarded as containing statements of pure opinion rather than statements or implications of actual, provable fact. See Summit Bank v Rogers, 206 Cal App 4th 669, 696-698; 142 Cal Rptr 3d 40 (Cal App, 2012); Sandals Resorts Int'l Ltd v Google, Inc, 925 NYS2d 407, 415-416; 86 AD3d 32 (NY App, 2011); Obsidian Financial Group v Cox, 812 F Supp 2d 1220, 1223-1224 (D Oregon, 2011)Cahill, 884 A2d at 465. "[A]ny reader familiar with the culture of . . . most electronic bulletin boards . . . would know that board culture encourages discussion participants to play fast and loose with facts. . . . Indeed, the very fact that most of the posters remain anonymous, or pseudonymous, is a cue to discount their statements accordingly." Summit Bank, 206 Cal App 4th at 696-697 (quotation marks and some brackets omitted)."

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