Procopio Obtains Preliminary Injunction in Effort to Save Snopes.com
September 14, 2017 (San Diego): Procopio attorneys Paul Tyrell and Ryan Caplan secured a critical early court victory in their effort to save Snopes.com, the popular fact checking and myth-debunking website. Snopes.com is owned by Procopio client Bardav, Inc.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith F. Hayes has entered a preliminary injunction in favor of Bardav and against Proper Media, LLC, an Internet media services company. The preliminary injunction, sought by Procopio, means that Proper Media must stop withholding Bardav’s ad revenue, a key part of the dispute between the two parties. Bardav needs those funds to continue operating the Snopes.com website.
“This is an important win,” said Procopio Partner Paul Tyrell. “Litigation can be a long process, and it’s a relief to know that Bardav will have access to Snopes.com revenue to support its fact-checking operations while the action is pending.”
In an earlier ruling explaining the reasons for the preliminary injunction, Judge Hayes stated that Bardav is likely to prevail on its contract claim in the underlying litigation and noted that Snopes.com is “a business with import to the public”.
With its ad revenue cut off by Proper Media, LLC, Bardav Founder and President David Mikkelson previously sought public assistance to continue operating through a GoFundMe campaign. As of today, nearly 25,000 individuals have donated nearly $700,000. Tyrell acknowledged the outpouring of public support during the preliminary injunction hearing, telling the court: “We’re thankful for the generosity of the public and the tens of thousands of people who donated to help the website survive.”
To avoid disruption of the Snopes.com website and to facilitate the transfer of hosting of the website to Bardav, the preliminary injunction also states that Proper Media must stop withholding from Bardav any Snopes.com website content, themes and templates. Further, Proper Media was ordered to not disrupt the website during a transition period of up to fifty days.
“We are incredibly grateful for the public’s support of Snopes.com, and we’re pleased that the court’s decision means we will be able to continue our mission of keeping pace with the rapidly changing fake news landscape,” said Bardav Founder and President David Mikkelson.
In a prior ruling, Judge Hayes also denied Proper Media’s competing motion for preliminary injunction. Proper Media had asked the court to remove Mikkelson from Bardav’s board of directors and enjoin Bardav from terminating the General Services Agreement (“GSA”) between the companies. In rejecting those requests, Judge Hayes ruled that Proper Media had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that Mikkelson had engaged in any fraudulent acts, and had “not identified any particular financial transaction conducted by Mikkelson that would constitute waste or abuse of control.”
Regarding the contract issue, the prior ruling had stated that “Bardav was within its rights to terminate the GSA upon 60-days’ notice, with or without cause.” Further, because Mikkelson was the president and CEO and because Proper Media failed to present persuasive evidence that anyone other than Mikkelson was a director, the prior ruling rejected Proper Media’s arguments that Mikkelson lacked authority to make decisions for Bardav.
The case is pending in the Superior Court of San Diego, Case No.37-2017-00016311-CU-BC-CTL. No trial date has been set.
Members of the media can obtain further information from Snopes.com via the Snopes.com website.