In a separate cyberspace case in California, two unhappy research scientsts were slapped with a $425,000 damage award for libeling their old bosses and employer in a flood of online messages.
A California state appeals court upheld a lower court decision that Kourosh Hamidi had committed trespassing by sending six electronic messages to as many as 35,000 Intel employees. A Sacremento Superior Court had earlier issued a permanent injunction against Hamidi.
“Intel owns the e-mail system it provides to its workers as much as it owns the telephones and manufacturing equipment it provides,” Justice Fred Morrison wrote in the Third District Court of Appeal decision. “The injunction simply requires that Hamidi air his views without using Intel’s private property.”
Morrison pointed out that Hamidi was still free to send e-mail or regular mail to Intel workers’ homes.
Appeals judges rejected arguments by Hamidi lawyer Ann Brick that the lower court injunction violated Hamidi’s free-speech rights.
The case was in Intel v. Hamidi, C033076.
A Santa Clara, California jury decided in a separate case that Michelangelo Delfino and Mary Day had libeled Varian Medical Systems and two executives by posting more than 14,000 defamatory and often vulgar messages on more than 100 Internet message boards and their own Web site.
Delfino, who was fired from Varian in 1998, was ordered to pay $250,000 in actual damages while Day must pay $175,000. The two could also be hit with punitive damages.
The jury also found that the defendants had defamed Varian Vice President George Zdasiuk and manager Susan Felch, who were often targets of messages accusing them of having extramarital affairs, being a danger to children, videotaping office bathrooms, being chronic liars and hallucinating.
After the jury began deliberating, the Santa Clara judge made a finding of fact that Day and Delfino had defamed the plaintiffs and prohibited them from posting specific statements.
– Fred Schneyer firstname.lastname@example.org