Giannetta Responds to Aster Graphics’ Defamation Lawsuit

In April, we reported how the California-based division of aftermarket third-party toner manufacturer Aster Graphics, which is headquartered in China, filed a lawsuit against Steven Giannetta, alleging that Giannetta “posted numerous false and defamatory articles” about Aster Graphics on the TonerNews.com website and on his LinkedIn account.

Wirth Consulting contacted Gianetta’s attorney, California consumer-protection attorney Mark L. Javitch, for comments on the lawsuit.

According to Javitch, Aster’s lawsuits against Giannetta and TonerNews.com (a website that posted various Giannetta articles related to Aster) are a “shameful abuse of the legal system.”

Javitch alleges that Aster is trying to cover up that its toner cartridges tested positive for elevated rates of the toxin decaBDE (Aster’s cartridge tested at rates that are outlawed in the European Union, according to the attorney).  Aster, says Javitch, sued Giannetta and TonerNews.com for merely posting articles about these scientific studies.

Javitch also stated that Aster’s lawsuit in California is an illegal SLAPP lawsuit, and that Javitch filed an Anti-SLAPP motion on behalf of Gianetta, a motion that “alerts the court that Aster is trying to abuse the court system for the purposes of censorship.” According to Javitch, “California law does not permit suits like Aster’s and imposes penalties for bringing them. We have requested the court strike Aster’s lawsuit in full and impose such penalties against Aster.”

Javitch stated that  Aster’s lawsuit is frivolous and attacks the U.S. States’ Constitution’s First Amendment right of freedom of speech.

According to Javitch, under California law, to be characterized as a SLAPP (Strategic  Lawsuits Against Public Participation) lawsuit, parties must show the court that they are being sued for exercising their  freedom of speech. Javitch stated that: “Online postings are purely speech-related activities. Once we make a case that California Anti-SLAPP law applies, the burden shifts to Aster to establish a probability of prevailing on its claims.  But it cannot establish a likelihood of prevailing, let alone a probability of prevailing.” California’s “anti-SLAPP statute was enacted to allow for early dismissal of merit-less First Amendment cases aimed at chilling expression through costly, time-consuming litigation.”

Javitch says that anti-SLAAP motions such as the one filed on behalf of Gianetta iare one of the most effective means of quickly ending a defamation suit. Courts can also impose penalties to discourage parties from filing suits such as  Aster’s.

The attorney also noted that California has some of the strongest Anti-SLAPP protections.  (This website provides a detailed overview of California’s SLAPP laws.)

At this point in the Aster lawsuit, Aster now has the opportunity to respond to Javitch’s motion, which will be heard August 1st in court.

More Resources

April 2019: Aster Graphics Files Libel Lawsuit

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