Default Judgment in Libel Case: No Extra "Lucy and the Soccer"

From Decide Carlton Reeves’ resolution at present in Andreacchio v. Yax (S.D. Miss.):

Plaintiff Rae Andreacchio is the mom of Christian Andreacchio, a younger man who allegedly “died beneath suspicious circumstances” in 2014. She resides in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, the place she is a psychological well being service supplier.

Defendant Karen Yax is a “outstanding social media determine” identified to her followers as “The Important Kay.” She operates a webcast the place she discusses “real-crime tales.” She is a resident of Michigan.

On March 21 and April 11, 2021, Yax mentioned Christian Andreacchio’s demise on her webcast. Yax said that Rae Andreacchio has “actually dominated the narrative about this case through intimidation, bullying, outright lies … , bribery, getting individuals drunk, [and] getting younger individuals drunk,” amongst different claims. Yax additionally said, “I actually do consider that Hayes [Mitchell, a different patient,] was handled by Rae, and Hayes is now useless with a drug overdose …. He is useless additionally by self-harm. So, she has a son that’s useless by self-harm. And he or she has a affected person who’s useless by self-harm.”

Andreacchio contends that these statements “go away[] the misunderstanding that [she] had one way or the other brought about—or contributed—to their deaths.” Andreacchio provides that these statements have “defamed or painted [her] in a false gentle, thereby inflicting her to undergo harm to her status and/or emotional harm.” Accordingly, she filed this go well with in opposition to Yax on June 4, 2021, alleging defamation and false gentle invasion of privateness.

Yax filed her reply on June 24, 2021, wherein she asserted that this Court docket lacks private jurisdiction over her. Yax then filed a movement to dismiss on August 12, 2021, which this Court docket subsequently denied on November 19, 2021.

For the order denying the movement, see right here; the important thing rationale was that “A evaluate of the accessible communications means that the defendant deliberately and purposely wished her phrases to affect the plaintiff in Mississippi,” which led to a conclusion that Mississippi courts (state and federal) had private jurisdiction over the lawsuit based mostly on these communications. Again to the default judgment opinion:

On November 30, 2021, the Justice of the Peace Decide assigned to this case scheduled a telephonic case administration convention for December 14, 2021. Court docket employees mailed and emailed discover of the listening to to Yax. On December 14, nonetheless, Yax did not dial-in to the convention. After issuing an Order to Present Trigger, the Justice of the Peace Decide sanctioned Yax $100. Docket Nos. 15 and 17. Yax well timed paid the sanction. Discovery commenced.

In August 2022, Yax moved to have a fast-approaching settlement convention performed by phone or video. The Justice of the Peace Decide denied the request however postponed the settlement convention to permit Yax extra time to make journey preparations. The Justice of the Peace Decide additional ordered the events to confer and choose mutually-agreeable dates to carry the convention in individual. Andreacchio says Yax “refused to adjust to the Court docket’s order to confer … [and] choose a date for the settlement convention.”

On September 1, 2022, the Justice of the Peace Decide scheduled a settlement convention for October 18, 2022. Yax was directed to seem in individual. A Textual content-Solely Order dated October 14 repeated this instruction. Yax, nonetheless, failed to seem.

Andreacchio subsequently moved for sanctions pursuant to Rule 16(f) for Yax’s failure to attend the settlement convention, and filed the current movement for default judgment beneath Guidelines 16(f) and 37(b)(2)(A)(vi)…. Yax argues that her absence from the settlement convention was as a result of “financial constraints, lack of entry to cheap authorized counsel, and … a legit worry for her bodily security, psychological well being and well-being …..”

In reply, Andreacchio contends that Yax’s “poverty may be very a lot unsure,” observing that Yax mailed her authentic movement to dismiss from Honolulu, Hawaii.

On February 1, 2023, the undersigned scheduled a motions listening to for March 20, 2023. The scheduling Order particularly famous the next: “The defendant is reassured that she won’t waive her private jurisdiction protection merely by showing for a listening to on this case. She has already preserved her jurisdictional protection for additional evaluate.” On March 10, the Justice of the Peace Decide granted Andreacchio’s movement for Rule 16(f) sanctions within the quantity of $895.67. That sum is as a result of Clerk of Court docket on or earlier than Might 1, 2023.

On March 20, Yax didn’t seem on the motions listening to earlier than the undersigned. The Court docket denied Yax’s excellent motions as deserted and pledged to rule on the excellent movement for default judgment in the end….

[T]he Fifth Circuit has reframed the usual for default judgments into one with 4 requiring findings: that “(1) the invention violation was dedicated willfully or in unhealthy religion; (2) the consumer, relatively than counsel, is accountable for the violation; (3) the violation considerably prejudiced the opposing occasion; and (4) a lesser sanction wouldn’t considerably obtain the specified deterrent impact.” … On this case, the plaintiff has demonstrated all 4 parts of the relevant authorized commonplace.

First, Yax has repeatedly violated Court docket Orders by failing to take part in telephonic and in-person hearings. These violations have been understanding and willful. Though she acknowledges in her filings that her presence can be “helpful to the court docket in adjudicating this unlucky matter,” she has texted a third-party explaining that she won’t come to Mississippi for this case, “Ever.” [See the image reproduced at the start of the post. -EV]

Regardless of the undersigned’s Order reassuring Yax that she wouldn’t forfeit her private jurisdiction protection by showing for a motions listening to, she did not attend that, too. And whereas Yax protests that she lacks funding to take part on this litigation, the excuse solely goes to date, since she might have participated within the telephonic case administration convention with out incurring any price.

Second, as a result of Yax is continuing professional se, there isn’t a query that she (and never an legal professional) is solely accountable for her conduct.

Subsequent, there’s ample file proof that Yax’s failures to seem have prejudiced the opposing occasion. Each time the plaintiff and her legal professional journey to Jackson for a listening to, they incur practically $900 in bills. When she performs this recreation of “Lucy and the soccer,” subsequently, Yax is operating up her opponent’s invoice. That’s the definition of prejudice.

Lastly, a lesser sanction wouldn’t considerably obtain Yax’s participation on this lawsuit. Warnings and present trigger orders have borne no fruit. If Yax lacks assets, a 3rd award of financial sanctions can be pointless. Incarceration, in the meantime, would probably be too extreme a sanction. “Given this file, it’s unclear what lesser sanctions might have been acceptable following the district court docket’s warnings and second probabilities.”

For these causes, and on this file, the uncommon sanction of default judgment is warranted….

Andreacchio’s movement for default judgment is granted. An evidentiary listening to is critical to find out an acceptable quantity of damages. One might be scheduled shortly. Yax is invited to take part.

Congratulations to Matthew Wilson, who represents Andreacchio. For a unique case arising out of the demise of Andreacchio’s son, see Distributing Authorities-Launched Post-mortem Pictures in Controversial Case Is not Tortious.

The put up Default Judgment in Libel Case: No Extra "Lucy and the Soccer" appeared first on

Leave a Reply