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Post Info TOPIC: Judge Sues over Slanderous Internet Comments

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Judge Sues over Slanderous Internet Comments

By Jordana Mishory
Daily Business Review

A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., dog show judge is biting back after a dog
breeder made catty comments about him on an Internet discussion forum
for people who breed Doberman pinschers.

Philip Martin, an American Kennel Club judge, alleges in a libel suit
filed last month in Broward Circuit Court that Orlando, Fla., dog
breeder Sandra Teague defamed him. Among the libelous statements,
Martin claims, is that Teague suggested he had shown favoritism toward
a show dog that was sired by his own stud dog.

Teague criticized him for judging an August show in Santa Barbara,
Calif., and awarding the "Winner's Dog" to a Doberman that was sired by
his own Doberman, X-Static.

Teague wrote she would "bet money" that Martin knew that the dog,
Holder Parks Red Hot Cayenne, was sired by Martin's dog X-Static.

Martin's attorney, William McCormick, a partner at Ruden McClosky in
Fort Lauderdale, said X-Static is a stud dog and Martin sells
X-Static's semen for breeding purposes.

Martin's Web site lists Red Hot Cayenne as one of X-Static's stud dog
offspring. But Martin does not have any ownership interest in any of
the dogs that X-Static sires. McCormick said Martin did not reap any
benefits, financial or otherwise, from Red Hot Cayenne.

According to an American Kennel Club spokeswoman, judges are allowed to
preside over shows featuring descendants of their dogs, as long as the
judge doesn't have any ownership interest in the dog.

"We're hoping for a verdict that will send a message to the defendant
and others that they can't post these types of false and libelous
statements on the Internet with impunity," McCormick said.

When Teague was reached for comment, she said she wasn't aware of the
suit. She did not respond after being sent a copy of the suit.

There are a growing number of defamation suits around the country based
on comments posted on Internet blogs and chat sites. In September, a
Weston, Fla., woman won an $11.3 million defamation verdict in Broward
Circuit Court over statements posted on an Internet bulletin board.

McCormick attributes this growing liability trend to the fact that
people posting the online statements are "sitting in their own homes
behind keyboards and computer screens," and they forget their published
statements have real consequences and can hurt people.


Martin obtained his American Kennel Club judge's license in September
2005, and has judged four or five shows since then, according to his
lawsuit. Martin also breeds, trains and shows Doberman pinschers. He
has had 18 champions, according to his Web site.

Teague's comments were written on the Web site following
an August show in Santa Barbara that Martin judged. Teague did not have
a dog in that Santa Barbara show, McCormick said.

The suit alleges that Teague "directly challenged Martin's integrity
and fitness to judge" by wrongfully suggesting he breached the American
Kennel Club's code of ethics by judging a show that featured a dog
sired by his own stud dog.

Teague also wrote that Martin "has smoozed [sic] his way to the TOP
[and] obtained a judging license without having ALL the requirements
needed," Teague wrote on the Web site in September. Teague also said
that Martin needs "anger management ... or a good stiff drink" before

The complaint said Teague's comments have damaged Martin, impugned his
character and subjected him to ridicule and disgrace within the
Doberman show world. The suit also states that Teague's comments caused
many exhibitors to demand he be replaced in an upcoming show.

According to the suit, the club that hired Martin has been contacted by
numerous exhibitors who threatened to withhold their entries unless the
club found a new judge. McCormick said he does not know if Martin has
been replaced.

"Martin has worked tirelessly to better the Doberman pinschers breed,
to establish his reputation as a premiere breeder of Doberman pinschers
and to be recognized as an authority on the Doberman pinschers breed,"
the suit said.

McCormick, who also shows Dobermans, said he met Martin through dog shows.

  Christina Ghimenti
PawPrint Boxers
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