OURAY – The Ouray County Courthouse may soon serve as the theater in which an interesting Internet defamation case plays out, pitting allegedly libelous shortsellers against an emerging clean energy company.
Attorneys for the plaintiff, Clean Coal Technologies, Inc., filed a complaint against defendants Adam G. Segal and “John Doe” in Ouray District Court on June 8. According to the complaint, Segal is a resident of Ouray County residing at 151 Snowy Peaks Dr., Montrose.
The Watch was not successful in reaching Segal to comment for this story. He and his associate(s) are alleged to have disseminated false statements against CCTI, including “crimes of moral turpitude” by way of public online message boards with the goal of driving down CCTI’s stock prices in a short sales scheme.
“The character assassinations are pretty phenomenal,” said a staffer with the attorney representing CCTI. “It will be pretty interesting to see what happens in the trial. It might be a really fascinating thing. There are a lot of folks out there that have experienced character assassinations on the Internet and don’t know how to find relief. Cyber-stalking is really common nowadays.”
The complaint alleges that Segal and an additional John Doe defendant, together operating under a slew of anonymous web user names including asegal1228, cctcsucksballs, cctc_scam, cartman, detegorectum and zoompoison among others, have made “repeated false and misleading statements against Clean Coal Technologies Inc. and its Executive Officers” in order to “interfere with CCTI’s ability to obtain financing and strategic alliances which would allow for the marketization of its technology.”
A simple Google-search on the first web user name listed in the complaint, asegal1228, turned up a plethora of comments on multiple online message boards. The following is representative of the nature of the posts:
“yes us bashers are here to save new people from buying this crap no matter what the pumpers say. look into deals they said they have that never came about ... dont buy this crap! and dont forget insiders have dumped MILLIONS of shares.”
CCTI asserts that such “false and misleading comments” have resulted in “damage to the company as well as to its shareholders and executive officers including, but not limited to, name and reputation,” and seeks damages “in an amount to be proven at trial,” costs incurred in the lawsuit, as well as an injunction ordering the defendants to cease any future defamatory postings concerning Clean Coal Technologies Inc.
Attorney for the plaintiff, Richard Schwartz of Denver, said that he does not at this point intend for the case to be decided by a jury, “though that depends a bit on who may still get added as defendants and whether the defendants wish to have a trial by jury.
“At this point it is CCTI’s objective to just get the defamation to stop,” Schartz said. “It is not about past indiscretions. CCTI does not wish to impinge on anyone's rights to free speech but certain postings on these Internet blogs state things not as opinion but as facts. They (the defendants) have clearly overstepped their constitutional rights.”
The pending lawsuit has stirred up a frenzy of comments on the very message boards where the alleged defamation took place – a weird cyber-society inhabited by day traders, naked short-sellers, “pump-tards” and bashers.
Some posts declared the lawsuit “ridiculous” and a “laughable lost cause.”
Another string of comments, more sympathetic to the plaintiff, centered on a recent commentary from financial analyst Jim Puplava of Financial Sense Newshour on HYPERLINK "http://www.netcastdaily.com" www.netcastdaily.com, in which Puplava described the basic layout of a “Bash and Cover” scheme. His description seemed to mirror the complaint CCTI has levied against Segal.
“Professional bashers start showing up out of the blue... you get these nefarious characters that show up in a chat room and start putting out false information, impugning board members and attacking the company, the management of the company, the board of directors, and putting out false misleading information for the purpose of creating negative sentiment about the company,” Puplava said. “Their purpose: ‘We’ve shorted the heck out of the stock and now we want to take profits.’ ... When somebody shows up on a blog and pumps out negative information, your first thought is, ‘Doesn’t this person have a life?’ But, it’s amazing how people tend to fall for this stuff.”