Is it possible to cyber bully your own co-op board? It just might be, according to a recent ruling in the ongoing legal battle between Coney Island co-op Trump Village and shareholders who started a blog badmouthing the board (and perhaps, more pertinently, its individual members).
As the New York Law Journal reported this week, a Brooklyn judge has ruled that board members are within their legal rights to move forward with a libel lawsuit filed back in November against residents who'd started tv4news.org, a site that explicitly names and criticizes building board members on a publicly searchable forum.
The judge specifically noted in the ruling that the site is now one of the top Google search results for "Igor Oberman," one of the board members most prominently slammed on the site. (One strange detail: besides two co-op owners, the suit also names two anonymous commenters on the site who go by the names "Joseph Stalin" and "Aborigen.")
We recently spoke with Oberman, who tells us, "The judicial system is catching up to cyber bullying. You can't just go and hurt buildings' reputations with your $9.99 GoDaddy account." Oberman also notes that after fielding numerous questions from prospective buyers about the online vitriol directed at the building, he and other board members have launched their own site, Trump4West.com, to combat the building's marred Google profile.
While this decision is far from a final ruling—it's just a go-ahead for the lawsuit to move forward—it should give serious pause to anyone thinking of starting their own building-related blog. The right to free speech is one thing, but the right to immortalize board disputes on the Internet—specifically, beefs with specific individuals—may be another.