March 31, 2012

Huffington Post Blogger Lawsuit Dismissed

A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Huffington Post by unpaid bloggers, saying that they knew in advance that they would not receive monetary compensation for their work and that they were free to take their talents to another publication if they so desired.

According to Associated Press (AP) reports, Judge John Koeltl ruled against the writers. Those bloggers had filed suit against the publication and its parent company AOL last year, claiming that they had been, in the AP's words, "unjustly denied compensation for their work" in the wake of AOL's $315 million purchase of the Huffington Post.

"Quite simply, the plaintiffs offered a service and the defendants offered exposure in return, and the transaction occurred exactly as advertised," Koeltl wrote in his decision, according to Chloe Albanesius of PCMag.com. "No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to the Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs candidly admit that they did not expect compensation."

"The principles of equity and good conscience do not justify giving the plaintiffs a piece of the purchase price when they never expected to be paid, repeatedly agreed to the same bargain, and went into the arrangement with eyes wide open," he added.

The five bloggers who had filed the lawsuit -- identified by Albanesius as Jonathan Tasini, Molly Secours, Tara Dublin, Richard Laermer, and Billy Altman -- had been seeking class-action status. According to PCMag.com, they referred to themselves as "modern-day slaves on Arianna Huffington's plantation."

They were suing for $105 million of the $315 million purchase price, claiming, as Wall Street Journal reporter Chad Bray put it, that "the value created by their content made the website a popular acquisition target."

Bray notes that Koeltl dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning that the bloggers will not be able to bring it to court again. Jeff Kurzon, a lawyer for Tasini, Secours, Dublin, Laermer, and Altman, told Bray that they were "reviewing the decision" and "considering out options."


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