(CN) – A federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit accusing a General Electric worker of defaming the administrator of his insurance plan and violating its copyrights by mailing “Wanted”-style postcards containing headshots of two executives.
Robert Delsman Jr., a worker at General Electric who was insured through MetLife, was allegedly unhappy with how his disability claim was being handled by Sedgwick Claims Management Services. He made and mailed postcards bearing the photographs of two Sedgwick executives with the words “Wanted” above them, and even morphed the images into pictures of Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, according to Sedgwick.
Delsman also criticized Sedgwick on his blog, the company claimed, accusing it of denying benefits to claimants, “terrorizing” people and violating a range of laws.
Sedgwick sued him for federal copyright infringement and five state-law claims, including defamation. Delsman asked the district court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that his use of the headshots constituted fair use, and that the state-law claims were meant to intimidate and harass him.
U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong agreed that Delsman’s inclusion of the photographs was fair use.
“Allowing defendant to use the photographs in the context of publicly criticizing and warning the public regarding Sedgwick’s business practices is precisely the type of activity the fair use doctrine is intended to protect,” she wrote.
The judge also granted Delsman’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the state-law claims.
“While defendant’s papers in this case are not a model of clarity, it is readily apparent that he is asserting his constitutional rights to criticize Sedgwick.”