I’m finally getting to post about something I’ve been keeping under my hat for quite some time.
On March 18, 2014, America Star Books, formerly PublishAmerica, filed suit against me, Michael Capobianco, Rich White, and Writer Beware in the Circuit Court for Charles County, MD.
The lawsuit alleged defamation per se on the basis of two posts from this blog: one from March 2013 covering the second class action lawsuit filed against PublishAmerica, and one from January 2014 covering PublishAmerica’s new name and services as America Star Books. A total of $800,000 in punitive and compensatory damages was demanded, plus interest and attorneys’ fees.
The lawsuit also alleged a conspiracy by me, Michael, and Rich to disparage PA and ASB. However, both of the allegedly defamatory posts were written by me, with no input from anyone else. And despite the inclusion of Rich, Michael, and SFWA in the suit, I was the only one ever served with a summons and complaint–which should give you some insight into the real motives behind the lawsuit.
After a long delay by the Maryland court, the case reached the discovery stage. Shortly after my attorneys sent detailed and extensive interrogatories and discovery requests to ASB, ASB’s attorney, Victor Cretella, contacted us to ask if we would consider settling. (UPDATE: We didn’t know it then, but ASB was in the midst of a major upheaval that ultimately led to its demise. Beyond the flimsiness of the complaint against us, and ASB’s probable reluctance to engage in the discovery process, we think this likely played a major part in ASB’s eagerness to settle.)
It wasn’t an easy decision. We’d begun preparing an aggressive defense, and a large part of me wanted to proceed. But considering the time, trouble, and expense of moving forward, settlement seemed like a more practical choice.
A final settlement was signed by all parties in January of this year. ASB agreed to release all claims asserted against me, Michael, Rich, and Writer Beware, and to stipulate to Dismissal With Prejudice. In exchange, I, Michael, and Rich agreed not to seek recovery of our legal fees.
There you have it. I hope you’ll all forgive this very dry recital–as well as my decision to close comments on this post.
Writer Beware is a service of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), run by SFWA’s all-volunteer Committee on Writing Scams, chaired by Victoria Strauss. SFWA aggressively defends the mission of Writer Beware and its volunteers.