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Twitter Settles, then Retweets, over La Russa Suit




St. Louis Cards manager Tony La Russa and his attorney claimed last Friday that he had settled his suit against Twitter over an impersonator using his name to Tweet nasty comments. But Twitter now says there was no deal.

After ignoring La Russa's initial complaints, Twitter apparently agreed to pull the fake profile within thirty minutes of suit being brought on May 6. The suit alleged that an unknown person had been using his name and image by tweeting as "TonyLaRussa." Besides claiming that La Russa's right of privacy had been violated, it asserts that Twitter is damaging trademark rights to his nationally famous name. The fake La Russa had, for example, noted the manager's DWI arrest and the highway death of a Cardinals pitcher thusly: "Lost 2 out of 3, but we made it out of Chicago without one drunk driving incident or dead pitcher ..."

On Friday afternoon, the two sides reached a settlement -- or so La Russa's attorney thought. La Russa told media outlets that Twitter had agreed to pay his legal fees and to make a donation to the Animal Rescue Foundation that he famously runs.

But Twitter evidently had second thoughts. CEO Biz Stone has posted "Not Playing Ball" on the company's blog. "Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay. With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa's lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous." Twitter claims, perhaps, that the fake tweets are a parody protected by the First Amendment. There was no obvious notice of parody, however... This may be an important suit, as there are likely hundreds if not thousands of fake Twitter identities out there.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.