Attorney Claims Legal Weekly Defamed Her
ST. LOUIS (CN) - An attorney claims in court that Missouri Lawyer's Weekly defamed her by grossly overstating how much she charged to serve as guardian ad litem in a family court case.
Benicia Baker-Livorski and The Family Law Group sued Missouri Lawyer's Weekly and Lisa E. Payne-Naeger, in City Court. Payne-Naeger's attorney requested a guardian ad litem be appointed in Payne-Naeger's divorce case, and Baker-Livorski was appointed, according to the complaint.
Missouri Lawyer's Weekly reported that Payne-Naeger told it Baker-Livorski had charged $80,000 to be guardian ad litem, but she charged only $10,000, Baker-Livorski says in her complaint.
The weekly's Sept. 27, 2011 article was written by Allison Retka, who is not a party to this complaint, Baker-Livorski says.
"Prior to publishing the article, Allison Retka never verified the information that plaintiff Benicia Baker-Livorsi earned $80,000 as a GAL in a single case," the complaint states. "She did not verify it through plaintiff Benicia Baker-Livorsi herself, the attorney for defendant Lisa Payne-Naeger (Joel Eisenstein), the attorney for the husband (Deborah Tomich), or, through Missouri Case.Net itself - which is readily available to any member of the public and specifically states the amount of fees earned through the docket entries."
Baker-Livorsi claims Retka then forwarded the article to ParentAdvocates.org, which Baker-Livorsi describes as a group devoted to bashing divorce lawyers. She says that group reposted the article and accused her of participating in judicial corruption.
ParentAdvocates.org is not named as a defendant.
However, Baker-Livorski says, "Now, and forevermore, because of the marvelous invention of 'Google', the search terms 'Benicia Baker-Livorsi' and 'guardian ad litems' and 'Missouri', will bring a viewer to see, in order, front and center, the articles about Benicia Baker-Livorsi under the titles 'Judicial Corruption' and 'What Really Motivates Lawyers in Missouri's GAL System? Money!'"
Baker-Livorsi claims Retka and Missouri Lawyer's Weekly published a "small retraction regarding her mistake," but says that is not good enough.
"The retraction in Missouri Lawyer's Weekly is pointless in that it was republished on the website of www.ParentAdvocates.org and will forever be there because of 'Google,'" the complaint states. "Plaintiff Benicia Baker-Livorsi sought a retraction and removal from ParentAdvocates.org, and they refused."
Baker-Livorsi seeks more than $500,000 in compensatory damages, and punitive damages, for libel and negligence.
She is represented by Larry Bagsby, with Bagsby & Lee, of St. Charles, Mo.