Thursday, March 29, 2007


With opening day of the 2007 Major League Baseball season only days away, several friends and I have decided to band together to form a fanatsy baseball league. We are playing under the auspices of MLB.COM. Thus far, we have seven teams, but we must have twelve in order for our league to come to fruition. For this reason, we are looking for a few more teams.

PLEASE NOTE: Playing in our league will be fun and easy. It is also FREE! It will not take much effort on your part to participate. We are having an automated draft, and you will only have to set your lineup once per week. In fact, even if you should fail to change your lineup, it will simply remain the same for next week.

The season officially begins this Sunday night. Our league must be in place by that time. If you are interested in joining our league, please let me know. If you provide me with your email address, I will send you an invitation to join. This will have to be on a first-come, first-served basis, as we will not be able to add any additional teams after we have our allotted twelve.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Re the Tennessee Volunteers: I really think that Bruce Pearl is an excellent coach, and I admire the way that his team plays. I greatly admired the way that he shed his shirt and donned body paint in order to come out and support the Lady Vols. I can relate to that. I also have something of a natual affinity for the Vols, as my beloved cousin and life-long friend, J. Bradley Guarino-Sanders, is a Tennessee graduate and fan of long standing. I have had some great times in Knoxville, cheering on the Vols with J. Bradley. I must admit that I now have a difficult time, however, getting past the goofy looking headbands that the majority of the Tennessee men's team currently seems to wear. I remind myself, for the umpteenth time, how thankful I am that Rick Pitino does not allow the Cards to wear those atrocious and ridiculous-looking headbands.

By the way--F.Y.I.--I picked the Georgetown Hoyas to win it all. Are my Big East leanings showing through? Hoo-Yah!

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Last month, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided an interesting defamation case that involved a personal attack on a website. Although the Court did not use the terminology, it appears that the website involved was probably what is typically referred to as a "blog" these days.

According to the Court's opinion, Paul Hamilton is a businessman in Daviess County, Indiana. He owns and operates a business known as Hamilton Water Conditioning there. Morgan Prewitt and his wife are also residents of Daviess County.

At some point prior to June of 2002, Prewitt allegedly began operating a website entitled "Paul Hamilten--The World's Smartest Man." Although there was a one-letter difference between "Hamilten" and "Hamilton," Mr. Prewett never denied that he was the author of the website, or that it was intended to refer to Paul Hamilton and his business. The website portrayed "Hamilten" as a manipulative and dishonest individual. For example, the website stated:

I am a very intelligent, older American male and have my own very successful business dealing with the water conditioning field. I have a Master's Degree in Water Conditioning from Smartass University, a prestigious mail order college. While I am somewhat attractive, I am known for my ability to seduce women with my quick wit. I have several methods of attracting women as well as socializing skills, which are in the book I am writing...


When my employees are installing a unit at a place where their [sic] is a woman at home, I like to get the target alone and tell her that she doesn't have to "pay for this." A couple of winks and boom, you have another sucker hooked. Please note that this only works on women that have half a brain, the more intelligent ones.


I began stocking water in large five gallon containers. To turn over the water stock supply and maintain fresh water, I began selling the oldest containers as bottled water.....No one is smart enough to test the water for free sodium ions, they will never know it's just softened water in the containers.

The Court's opinion goes on to give several more examples of the claims that were made in the website.

When Paul Hamilton learned about the website, he filed a lawsuit against Prewitt for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Special Judge of the Daviess Superior Court granted summary judgment to Prewett, and Hamilton then appealed.

Judge John Baker wrote the opinion for the Court of Appeals of Indiana. After noting that this was a case of first impression--meaning that it presented an issue not previously decided by our appellate courts-- Judge Baker affirmed the decision of the trial court.

Initially, the Court considered the nature of the law of defamation as it has developed in Indiana. The law of defamation was created to protect individuals from reputational attacks. A defamatory communication is defined as one that "tends so to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in estimation of the community or to deter a third person from associating or dealing with him."

In order to prevail in a case for defamation, a plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) a communication with defamatory imputation; (2) malice; (3) publication; and (4) damages. To impose liability for defamation, a false statement of fact is required.

While Indiana has ample case law dealing with defamation, this appears the first case dealing with parody. In adopting language from other jurisdictions, the Court noted that, "Parody involves exaggeration or distortion and is the means by which the author clearly indicates to his audience that the piece does not purport to be a statement of fact but is rather an expression of criticism or opinion.....The satiric effect emerges only as the reader concludes by the very outrageousness of the words that the whole thing is a put-on. The comic effect is achieved because the reader sees the words as the absurd expression of positions or ideas associated with the purported author."

The key to the Court's decision appears to lie in the fact that there are no believable false statements of fact contained within the website. From reading the Court's opinion I believe that, if the website had contained actual false statements of fact rather than mere parody, the Court would not have upheld the summary judgment. In this regard, the Court cautioned: " By finding parody and defamation to be mutually exclusive, we are not suggesting that language cannot be defamatory if it is also humorous. A defendant who couches a defamatory imputation of fact in humor cannot simply avoid liability by dressing his wolfish words in humorous sheep's clothing."

This final distinction by the Court is crucial. We should all realize that a false statement about someone else is actionable, even if it is phrased in a humorous fashion.

I believe that this is a well-reasoned and sound decision. If you would like to read the whole opinion, the case is Hamilton v. Prewett, 860 N.E.2d 1234 (Ind. App. 2007).

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Brendan got the good news last week: He has received an official appointment to become a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. This was the culmination of a great and very intense process. While many apply for the honor, very few are accepted. Although I felt all along that he would probably receive an appointment, news of the actual appointment was a moment of great joy and relief. I am so proud and happy for him! (Just to make sure, I asked him, and he does plan to accept.)

By the way, the monetary value of an education at the U.S. Naval Academy is currently estimated to be $300,000.00. To celebrate, we went to Wick's Pizza after we got the news. Although Wick's is Brendan's favorite local establishment, my friend Rags suggested that Ruth's Chris would have been more commensurate with the occasion.

Special thanks are due to Tim Naville. Tim, an outstanding attorney in New Albany, is an alumnus of the Naval Academy. He also serves as the Academy's representative in this area. He befriended Brendan and helped him through the application process. He has remained in close touch with us over the past year, and has been available to answer any and all questions that we've had. Fittingly, Tim will come to the Senior Awards Day at Providence High School in may, decked out in full naval dress uniform, to present Brendan with his Certificate of Appointment. I cannot wait to witness that.

And now a new mantra that I am learning: Go Navy! Beat Army!