US-based lawyer sues Kenyan blogger for defamation

A Kenyan lawyer based in the US has sued a Kenyan blogger for defamation and failing to pull down an offending article published last year.

In a suit filed at the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland, Ms Regina Njogu accuses the owner of the blog named Kenyapoa of writing a “malicious story which has caused me emotional distress”.

In the testimony filed at the court registry and seen by Nation on Thursday, Ms Njogu, who is a partner at RNW law firm, says that the said blogger wrote an article which erroneously characterised her as having been suspended indefinitely from practicing law in the US for misconduct.

DEFAMATORY ARTICLES

She further states that the blogger often writes inflammatory and defamatory articles mostly against Kenyans residing in the US or abroad.

Ms Njogu, who is licensed to practice law in New York, says she filed the libel complaint against the unnamed plaintiff because even after requesting him or her to pull down the article, the defendant has failed or refused to do so.

She says due to privacy features on the website, it has been impossible to authenticate the real identity of the blogger.

REVEAL IDENTITY

Under Maryland law, if the court grants her plea, a subpoena will force the identity of the blogger to be revealed.

Ms Njogu states that on or about March 28, 2016, the defendant authored and published an article on the blog titled: ‘Kenyan lawyer has been indefinitely suspended from the practice of law for engaging in professional misconduct’.

“The defendant has taken advantage of legal protections to make false, unsubstantiated, and defamatory statements against the plaintiff by operating anonymously and by protecting his or her information from discovery, argues Njogu.

“The offensive and defamatory statements made by defendant are not protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States,” she adds.

Ms Njogu wants the court to issue a subpoena duces tecum (writ ordering a person to present relevant documents in court) against the blogger.

SH10M DAMAGES

She also seeks “punitive damages for actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth” in the amount of $100,000 (Shs 10.2 million) and any other charges that the court may deem appropriate.

“Clearly the said article is malicious and was deliberately meant to tarnish my name and standing in the society,” she told Nation on Thursday evening.

In her request for disclosure, Ms Njogu also pleads with the court to issue a subpoena to Automatic Inc, a corporation domiciled in San Francisco, California, which is the web host, IP provider, and registrant of the blog.

She also seeks orders to compel Mark Monitor Inc., a San Francisco-based company which serves as the domain provider of the defendant’s blogging site, to provide the necessary information to the court.

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