- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia judge has ordered the owner of philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News to reveal the name of a person who’s being sued over a comment posted online.

The ruling came in a defamation suit filed by John Dougherty, the head of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. Dougherty sued the anonymous poster over a comment on a Daily News blog, and his lawyers subpoenaed Philadelphia Media Network, demanding the person’s identity.

A lawyer for the media company said it would not do so without a court order.

Common Pleas Court Judge Jacqueline Allen ordered Philadelphia Media Network to turn over the name, along with any comments he or she posted from Aug. 10, 2012, through this January, the Inquirer reported Saturday.

Philip L. Blackman, a lawyer for the individual who posted the comment, had argued in court filings that his client’s statements were protected by the First Amendment. Blackman said the description of Dougherty was not “defamatory per se.”

Dougherty’s lawyer, Joseph R. Podraza Jr., called Allen’s ruling “absolutely appropriate.”

“I think it does bring accountability back to people who post things online, and I hope it disposes of the notion that just because you’re anonymous, you can say defamatory things about other people and not be held accountable for it,” he said.


Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, https://www.inquirer.com

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