Thursday, January 29, 2009

Revisiting the Barbara Bauer Lawsuit

Someone on one of my writer loops brought up the Barbara Bauer lawsuit against Preditors & Editors, which reminded me that it has been six months since I've revisited that issue. So tonight I thought we'd take a trip down memory lane.

First, a quick recap:

It started back in March, 2006 when Absolute Write, a website for writers, posted a list of what they called the 20 Worst Agents.

Complaints from the named agents caused the web server for Absolute Write to shut the site down. That was enough to cause all the prominent writer websites to begin publishing the list so that everywhere you looked online you could find it.

Absolute Write had to find another server. The Writer Beware website accepted the job of keeping the list of 20 Worst Agents updated. You can find it here.

Of course, the fabulous Miss Snark (MS) couldn't resist poking her stiletto heel into the controversy. She posted the list on 3/17/06.

Most of the people listed on the worst agent website had the good sense to keep their mouths shut or to change their agencies' names rather than prolong the publicity. However, there was one agent who decided to go after EVERYONE who called her "a worst agent." She threatened Absolute Write and, on 5/24/2006, Miss Snark went after her, saying:
"Barbara Bauer is not a literary agent. Barbara Bauer is a scam artist. And a very very stupid one. Here's the scoop:

"Barbara Bauer phoned the woman who runs the web hosting for Absolute Write wherein Barbara Bauer was listed as one of the 20 Worst Agents (a list I was happy to publish as well) and sounded scary enough that the site host panicked and pulled the plug.

"In the past Barbara Bauer, one of the 20 Worst Agents, tried to get Teresa Nielsen Hayden fired for 'libeling her on the Making Light website'.

"Like I said: stupid. It's not libel when you're telling the truth.

"Let me say this again in no uncertain terms: Barbara Bauer is not a reputable literary agent. She is a scam artist.

"Strong words? You bet. Wanna come get me Barb? Come on over. Let's compare sales."
Of course, from that moment on, every chance she got, Miss Snark would make a snarky comment about "Babs." It became a running thread on MS's blog. And it was hugely responsible for making MS well known in the writer community.

And even in the face of growing negative publicity, Bauer still would not back down. She sent threatening letters to everyone who made snarky comments about her on their blogs or websites. A lot of people backed down. A lot of people didn't.

On 9/20/07, Bauer filed a civil lawsuit against 17 defendants (with several joint names) in U.S. District Court (federal court) in New Jersey. The defendants included some of the best known bloggers in the writing community and Wikimedia, the non-profit that runs Wikipedia. The complaint also included as a defendant: "Miss Snark, The Literary Agent, ('Snark') is a fictitious name used on a blog."

Bauer and her attorneys were trying very hard to find Miss Snark's real name. The writer community shut down, protecting her name.

Bauer filed a Second Amended Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Monmouth County on 1/31/08, moving the case from federal to state court. There were other differences in the second lawsuit. Bauer added three additional defendants and changed her complaint against Miss Snark to list Brian Hill and Dee Power, claiming that they were behind the Miss Snark blog.

In my blog, I said:
There has been a huge amount of speculation as to the identity of Miss Snark. Many writers believe they know her true identity and have continued to protect that name more than a year after the blog ceased operations. None of the writers I know believes that Hill and Power were behind Miss Snark.

According to Bauer's original filing, Miss Snark's blog had a server address in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hill and Power live in Fountain Hills, Arizona, a suburb northeast of Scottsdale.

According to Wikipedia, Fountain Hills has a population of 24,669 and was the eighth fastest-growing city in Arizona between the 1990 and 2000 census.

I'm curious as to why Bauer zeroed in on Hill and Power. Because they were writers living within twenty miles of Scottsdale? Surely not!
Everyone knew they weren't MS. In July, 2008, the judge dismissed the cases against Hill and Power.

That same month, the judge also dismissed the case against Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that runs Wikipedia.

I did a pair of posts on my blog in July on the 8th here and on the 9th here, listing all defendants, who they are, and the lawsuit's status (17 original defendants, raised to 20--counting Hill and Power as one--reduced to 18).

Tonight, I spent some time trying to find the status of the remaining 18 defendants.

Let's start with one of the lesser known defendants: Shweta Narayan.

This is a direct quote from the transcript of the decision:
"Bauer’s complaint alleges that Ms. Narayan published statements in November 2006, that denigrated Bauer’s reputation as a literary agent . . .

"Ms. Narayan was a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley in November 2006. For health reasons, she has withdrawn from the university, and currently lives in San Diego . . . With help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, she located volunteer counsel in New Jersey, whom she retained in May 2008 . . . "
This is a quote from her attorney's brief:
"Two years ago, in May of 2006, as a linguistics graduate student at UC Berkeley, Ms. Narayan noticed interesting linguistic behavior in an Internet chat room sponsored by a writers’ community, AbsoluteWrite.com. The chatters complained that AbsoluteWrite’s website had been shut down, apparently in response to legal threats from Bauer. Unlike the website, the chat room was not shut down, and it became a hub for the writers who had been displaced from the AbsoluteWrite website.

"Later in 2006, Ms. Narayan received a call for submissions to the CSDL conference, a small, highly specialized bi-annual academic conference on cognitive linguistics. Recalling the discourse of the chat room in May 2006, she prepared an abstract and submitted it . . . as an example of how a community under threat creates interesting and complex conceptual structures to cope with threats -- the sort of topic that CSDL attendees study . . .

"Ms. Narayan presented her talk at the conference on November 4, 2006, to an audience of about 30 to 40 people. The abstract and talk focused on what the chatters were doing, not on Bauer herself, though Bauer was mentioned briefly to contextualize the situation for linguists . . . Bauer is referenced in quoted speech by the chatters whose language is being analyzed. The abstract cited the Science Fiction Writers of America; it made no direct statements about Bauer."
The judge dismissed the case against Ms. Narayan on 10/27/08 based on "the lack of personal jurisdiction." Ms. Narayan lives in California, and Ms. Bauer filed in state court in New Jersey.

Updated Status: 17 original defendants, raised to 20--now reduced to 17

Next up: defendant Gregory Ludwig, who has described himself as an editor and an occasional writer.

According to the decision:
"Mr. Ludwig is a writer who is trying to publish books, and the plaintiff is a literary agent who places authors for publication of books. According to Mr. Ludwig, he supplied Ms. Bauer with twelve book manuscripts, none of which actually were published, and he paid a fee for those actions.

"Movant began writing blog entries pertaining to Ms. Bauer beginning on September 5, 2006 which included discussions about their past business interactions. That's not alleged to be defamatory."
Ludwig argued that he was defending Bauer. Judge Perri agreed. In his decision on 10/27/08, he found that "There was clearly no actual malice and there was not a negligent defamation as the Court views the documents, and therefore summary judgment is granted in the defendant Ludwig's favor . . ."

Updated Status: 17 original defendants, raised to 20--now reduced to 16

I'll check in on the case status again in another few months.

18 comments:

Gregory Ludwig said...

Ms. Reynolds:

Thank you for your interest in this case. I have debated whether to respond to this blog entry, because of the legal implications of speaking on the Internet about this case, as the progress of the lawsuit has shown. I decided that since many people get their only or main information on this suit from Internet postings such as this one, and because of the way this suit was filed and what some may argue qualifies public statements to be legally actionable for libel (at least under New Jersey law), I note that there are numerous inaccurate assertions in this blog entry (though I am not trying to incite you to worry about getting sued for libel). Perhaps many of them are not your fault. There is not a lot of authoritative information on the details of this case (those that are allowed to be publicized) on the Internet.

For instance, among facts you need to be corrected on: the motions for summary judgment for both myself (filed by myself as a pro se codefendant) and Shweta Narayan (filed by her attorney Grayson Barber, Esq.) were decided on September 19, 2008, not October 27, 2008. Moreover, they were decided by Judge Bette Uhrmacher, who took over the case from Judge Jamie S. Perri in September (Judge Perri is a female, by the way, not a male).

Also, there were 22 total defendants in the second amended complaint, which was dated January 23, 2008, and filed by the court January 31, 2008. There had originally been 17 defendants in the first complaint, which was filed in March 2007 with the Superior Court in Monmouth County, N.J. The suit was removed to federal-level court in May 2007, from some limited source I’ve seen; it definitely was filed again in federal court on September 20, 2007. The September 2007 version of the suit had the original 17 defendants. It was thrown out of federal court, from what I’ve been told, sometime in later 2007.

Finally, the second amended complaint was filed in Monmouth County court in January 2008. This was the first version I am aware of that had 22 codefendants. The five new codefendants were myself; Brian Hill and Dee Power; Aimee Amodio; and Kristen Fischer. Of these five, Amodio, Fischer, and myself were the first codefendants in the case who currently were, or had recently been, New Jersey residents. As it happened, Amodio had moved to Oregon by the time she answered the suit, through her attorney, in June 2008.

Dee Power and Brian Hill were dismissed by the plaintiff (Bauer), not by the judge (such a dismissal is allowable by the court rules). All Hill and Power had filed was an answer; they had never filed a motion for dismissal.

By the way, “Miss Snark” was listed as a codefendant in the January 2008 lawsuit complaint even when Hill and Power were added.

These are some of the very many factual details I have amassed about the case, after having been involved in it for nine months (ending in December 2008, when the judge approved most of my costs’ being paid by the plaintiff). If you knew much of what I do about the case, you would find this very interesting in its own right and as a sort of cautionary tale for people who comment on others in provocative ways on the Internet (where there might be a risk of a defamation suit).

I can possibly refer you to a resource giving more detailed information on this case (that information that I feel I am free to give out).

Thanks.

Gregory Ludwig
Former Codefendant, Pro Se, in Bauer et al. v. Glatzer et al.
(I am not an attorney)

Maya Reynolds said...

Gregory: Thanks so much for responding to my post.

It's obvious you are an editor. [grin] I had the same reaction to your post as I had when my own copy editor changed a line of BAD BOY from "she sighed" to "she said and sighed."

Seriously, thank you. You are correct that the decision was made in September and SIGNED in October on the date I gave.

I deliberately counted several defendants as one rather than two in my counts (as I did with Hill and Power, and as I did in counting Snark as one with Hill and Power in the second complaint) so I'm not going to worry about your count of the defendants.

The one comment that you made that I am actually grateful for is to remind me of the change of judge. I had noted it while doing my research and then forgot it when writing the post. Thank you.

Congratulations on putting the legal matter behind you. I hope that you will be able to move on from this unfortunate matter.

Best wishes to you.

Maya Reynolds

Marian said...

That was a very interesting read, Maya, thanks. I knew Bauer had sued a lot of people, but I didn't know Shweta Narayan was one of them.

Maya Reynolds said...

Thanks, Marian!

Regards,

Maya

Victoria Strauss said...

Maya, the Thumbs Down Agency List, a.k.a. the 20 Worst Agency List, was originated by Writer Beware, and first published on our website. It was later re-posted by us to Absolute Write.

Maya Reynolds said...

Thanks, Victoria, for adding to the information.

Warm regards,

Maya

Anonymous said...

I was scammed by Miss Snarkd. she is a scam artist and so is Victoria Strauss, her minion.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the University of California at San Diego was so mortified by the embarrassment to their institution by Shweta Narayan's cyberbullying on their web site that they removed her entire abstract and wrote a letter disclaiming any responsibility for her terrorist threats on their premises at the Linguistics Conference. However Narayan's attorney Grayson Barber lied to the New Jersey court and said Narayan spoke under the auspices of the University. But then again, we always knew that New Jersey is a very corrupt state, or the likes of Grayson Barber would never even have been admitted to the bar. Oh and the SFWA attorney, Charles Petit, was suspended from practicing law in Illinois for cheating the John Steinbeck estate. Narayan is associated with a passel of rogues and unfit to be an author.

Anonymous said...

Good for Barbara Bauer for suing those hypocrites at Writer Beware and Absolute Write. One of their own moderators got his law license suspended in a court in Illinois because he defrauded the John Steinbeck family estate. Ann Crispin covered up the story because he was one of the moderators and frequent posters on her blogs.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bauer_v._Glatzer_et_al./Second_Amended_Complaint

Do you happen to mean these cases? Keep in mind even if in fact they were dismissed (which is unreliable sense it's wikipedia saying it.) Would you sign up to a board that had all these counts?

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear NSA and Dept of Justice are going after Wikimedia/pedia. It's about time. They got away with lying about Bauer and her life on a technicality, the communications decency ACT, not on the fact that what they said was TRUE. There are so many lies on that site. Bauer sued them for lying and they persecuted her on Absolute Write and other writers boards. I am so glad NSA is going after them. The people who write Wikipedia are all social misfits like Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Hope NSA goes after Victoria Strauss too!!

Anonymous said...

Barbara Bauer is my hero. Good for her for standing up to that Goliath Monster!

Anonymous said...

History has clearly proved that what happened to Bauer at the hands of Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss was cyberbullying and stalking in the 90's and early 2000's. They term had not yet been invented. So those mentally ill women were really going nuts on the internet and a lot of other sickos followed suit.

Anonymous said...

It is a well-known fact Crispin, Strauss, Glatzer etc. were once on the Writers Digest payroll. And Glatzer wrote a book on cyberbullying with Joel Haber, PH.D., published by Adams Media, a division of Writers Digest. Writers Digest was part of the "Miss Snark " scam too. (They are an underhanded group from way back, charging $500 and up) for two minutes with an editor or agent.

Anonymous said...

It appears that "Maya Reynolds" is but another persona of AC Crispin. She appears, like miss Snark, to have disappeared at about the time Crispin took ill.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know from Penguin Publishing Co if "Maya Reynolds" is just a pen name for Ann Crispin. Crispin and her many personas runs the biggest scam in publishing, along with Victoria Strauss and SFWA (science fiction) They looked the other way when their attorney Charles Petit defrauded the Steinbeck family, then picked on innocent business like Bauer to cover their fraud.

Anonymous said...

This verbally abusive site is still in existence??? When is Google going to enforce its terms of service? Cyberbullying is way out of style, Maya!

Anonymous said...

A pox on Google. May their stocks plummet and their company be reduced to nothing for allowing this abusive blog to continue for years despite reporting the abuse many times.