SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – A motivational speaker on the real estate and finance circuit claims he was defamed and his privacy was invaded when he was tracked by GPS and private information about him was published on message boards, with false accusations of extramarital affairs.
James Smith, who speaks for “Get Motivated!” business seminars, sued Elizabeth Arden dba Complaintsboard.com and other website hosts, in Federal Court.
Smith says he was called a “snake oil salesman,” and he and his employees “scum bags,” on Elizabeth Arden’s Complaintsboard.com, Khansama Publication’s artvoice.com, and Automattic’s wordpress.xeonphilius.com blogs, all of which are named as defendants.
Smith, who is married, claims the websites falsely referred to actress Kari Michaelson, who appeared on the 1980’s sitcom “Gimme a Break!” his “mistress.”
He says the postings also referred to him as the “new boyfriend” of Paula White, calling a motivational speaker and senior pastor of Without Walls International Church in Tampa. She hosts the television show, “Paula White Today.”
One posting stated: “Smith was trying to become Paula White’s third husband in order to take her congregants’ money,” according to the complaint.
Smith claims that one blogger “posted information detailing travel itineraries and scheduled flights for James Smith, Kari Michaelson, and Paula White,” and that several others “used a GPS tracking program to track the location of plaintiff Smith’s cellular telephone, to intercept and forward private messages, and to uncover proprietary information related to plaintiff’s business.”
One blog reported that Smith is “neither trustworthy nor honest,” and “… is unfit to conduct business and provide investment advice based on his ‘problem with sleeping around,'” according to the complaint.
He claims the blogs falsely reported that he “has had several hundred mistresses, and hires escorts,” the complaint states.
Another blog reported: “To trust a company that we pay only based on faith since they do not sell a product but a service, it is very important to have FAITH and TRUST. Both are impossible in light of these facts,” according to the complaint.
Smith says he asked that that specific, defamatory postings on all three blogs be removed and demanded the identities of the blogs’ registered owners and individual bloggers within the sites.
“Despite repeated demands, the posts were not fully removed,” he said.
Smith, a resident of Florida with a second home in Utah, owns The Coaching Company and Real Estate Investment Support, which are co-plaintiffs.
He seeks an injunction and punitive damages for defamation, privacy invasion, negligence, unfair competition and violations of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. He wants the injunction to include an order that the bloggers’ identities be revealed.
Smith is represented by Brad Smith with Stevenson & Smith of Ogden.