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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Troll Pros

November 21, 2016

Traffic accidents and horror films. Those were the two things that sprang to my admittedly warped mind last week after reading a U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling called Huon v. Denton.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

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Traffic accidents and horror films.

Those were the two things that sprang to my admittedly warped mind last week after reading a U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling called Huon v. Denton.

No, neither of those things had anything to do with the case, but the ruling did deal with something I’ve always found a tad mystifying: internet trolling.

Why do people troll and, perhaps more importantly, why does anyone pay attention to trolls? They’re just a tiny percentage of the population and they’re clearly horrible.

Then I hit page 14 of the Huon ruling and had my epiphany.

The plaintiff was claiming that the publisher of a website was paying trolls to add defamatory comments to a news story so that it could attract advertisers.

You can’t pass a web story without slowing down to gawk at the trolling!

Just like traffic accidents!

They’re scary but you can’t look away.

Just like horror films.

At least if you’re into that sort of thing. Personally, I’ve never seen the point of horror movies or trolling – regular life is frightening and outrageous enough.

We can now have a tiny amount of respect for trolls because some of them are paid professionals.

Expect to see a troll awards show in the near future.

If you’re bored, come up with names for the trophies.

The Trollies?

The Sendaks?

The (insert-obscenity-heres)?

Let me know if you come up with a good one.

Huh? Those of you who enjoy nonsequiturs should take a quick look at the first four sentences of a Delaware Court of Chancery ruling called Sequoia Presidential Yacht Group v. FE Partners.

Then see if the literary reference – to a Joseph Heller novel that refers to the biblical King Solomon story – refers to anything in the ruling that follows.

There are no babies or crazed judges involved – just a former presidential yacht that no one is suggesting should be split in two.

I think someone enjoyed the Heller book too much.

Be that as it may, I quite enjoyed the sentence that followed the nonsequitur. If I hadn’t told you, you would have had a hard time guessing this was from a court ruling and not, say, a Heller novel:

“The Sequoia, an elderly and vulnerable wooden yacht, is sitting on an inadequate cradle on an undersized marine railway in a moribund boatyard on the western shore of the Chesapeake, deteriorating and, lately, home to raccoons.”

Now if only the King Solomon baby had been living with raccoons….

Stick ’em up! I have some advice for those of you who are employers and have been wondering how your employees would react during a crisis.

Stop wondering!

Testing employee reactions is not a good idea.

I know this because of a California Court of Appeal ruling called Lee v. West Kern Water District in which we learn that supervisors at this water district decided “to test how the district’s female employees would respond if they believed they were really being robbed.”

This, of course, prompts an obvious question: are there a lot of armed robberies at obscure government offices in West Kern?

Is local bureaucratic government under siege?

Is robbery response training vital?

I don’t know. The ruling doesn’t cover this important issue.

Be that as it may, the supervisors left three women alone in the office and then had a “quality control manager” wearing a ski mask put a bag in front of one of them with a note saying, “I have a gun. Put your money in the bag.”

A freak-out and litigation ensued.

So don’t test your workers.

Of course they’ll freak out.

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