Cretella v. Kuzminski, Civil No. 08-109 (E.D. Va. jury verdict for plaintiffs Feb. 4, 2009).
Status: $236,000 jury award ($120,000 compensatory, $116,000 punitive) remittited to $53,000 ($30,000 compensatory, $23,000 punitive), 2009 WL 2423368 (E.D. Va. July 31, 2009).

In February 2007, plaintiff Victor Cretella, who was then outside counsel for the on-demand publishing firm PublishAmerica, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Christine Norris, who had referred to the company as "a scam" in comments she posted to forum section of the Absolute Write website ( Norris reacted to the letter by posting additional comments to the forum, restating her complaints against PublishAmerica and inviting the company to "Bring. It. On." Many other commenters in the Absolute Write forum posted comments expressing support for Norris.

One of these was defendant David Kuzminski, who also posted comments about the controversy on his own website, Preditors and Editors (, a resource guide for writers. The commentary by Kuzminski and others on the Absolute Write site and other sites, and by Kuzminski on his own site, continued when Cretella accepted the position as general counsel of PublishAmerica.

Cretella sued Kuzminski over a number of his comments. After pre-trial motions, defamation claims remained against nine comments by Kuzminski: seven on the Absolute Write site, one on his own site, and one on another site.

After a two-day trial, the jury awarded a total of $236,000 in damages ($120,000 compensatory, $116,000 punitive). On a post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law or remittitur, the court offered a remittitur to $53,000 ($30,000 compensatory, $23,000 punitive), or a new trial. 2009 WL 2423368 (E.D. Va. July 31, 2009).

The plaintiff accepted the remittitur on Aug. 14.

Links and Court Documents:

No comments: