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Croton GOP Chair Sues Bloggers, Claims Libel

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – GOP Chair Susan Konig, who is a former candidate for the Westchester County Board of Legislators and the Croton Republican Committee filed a libel lawsuit in state Supreme Court against the anonymous bloggers of “Watch Croton.” A summons in the case was filed on March 9, seeking to stop postings and gain monetary damages of at least $25,000, plus legal fees.

According to documents filed with the state court in White Plains, the libel suit alleges that six "John and Jane Doe" users of “Watch Croton” defamed Konig “on or about” March 11 , Nov. 7 and Sept. 18, 2011 .

“She’s been consistently called a liar and a racist, and those are comments that she feels are untrue and defamatory,” said Rosanne Schuyler of Kitson and Schuyler, the firm handling the lawsuit. “She feels, and the Croton Republican Committee feel, they’ve been defamed by various bloggers in various posts in that claim, so that’s what made them bring suit.”

Konig is listed as the chair of the Croton Republican Committee in the suit. She ran against Democrat Catherine Borgia in November for the District 9 seat on the county Board of Legislators.

The summons filed in White Plains did not cite specific instances in which Konig was allegedly defamed.

The law firm also filed a subpoena with WordPress, the web company that hosts the village-centric blog, to seek the identities of six bloggers. According to “Watch Croton,” which posted the subpoena on its website March 29, the suit is seeking the identities of “the owner/operator of WatchCroton, Tea Leaf, Sick of Konig, Q-Tip, Logical, Bugsy, and Astonished.”

It’s unclear if Automattic.com, the operator of WordPress, has responded to the subpoena. The company’s privacy policy states, “Automattic discloses potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information only in response to a subpoena, court order or other governmental request.”

Prolonged libel suits are notoriously expensive. Under narrow circumstances, lawsuits that are dismissed because of a lack of basis in fact or law, and which are meant to discourage certain types of free speech, can result in the plaintiff's paying the defendant’s legal fees, as well as compensatory damages and punitive damages. These suits are known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation .

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