Klein sues other local bloggers for defamation

Kelly Holleran Sep. 1, 2009, 10:59am

A political blogger in Southeast Texas has alleged that two other local bloggers have defamed and harassed him through their Web sites.

Philip R. Klein writes the Southeast Texas Political Review, a site that includes news and commentary about area elected officials and community leaders. "The story behind the story in East Texas politics," reads a banner describing the Web site on its home page.

As PRK Enterprises and Klein Investments, Klein sued the Operation Kleinwatch and Sam the Eagle blogs, as well as Google and its subsidiary blogger.com on Aug. 26 in Jefferson County District Court.

In the suit, PRK and Klein Investments are asking Google and blogger.com to identify all people responsible for running www.operationkleinwatch.blogspot.com and www.samtheeagleusa.blogspot.com.

They are also asking for the identities of all people who provided money or literary substance to the Web sites, who posted comments on the Web sites and those who are in any way affiliated with the Web sites.

The plaintiffs claim Operation Kleinwatch and Sam the Eagle have engaged in a pattern of libel and defamation, invasion of privacy and use of copyrighted images.

"These Web sites host significant, false information and invade the privacy of Petitioners throughout the Web site," the suit states. "The purpose of these Web sites is to disparage, harass and cause injury to these Petitioners, as well as Mr. Philip Klein personally."

Operation Kleinwatch is a Web site that comments on the opinions and articles Klein has posted on Southeast Texas Political Review.

According to the suit, some of the articles appearing on Operation Kleinwatch refer to lawsuits in which Klein is allegedly involved.

"The Web site Operation Kleinwatch, contains false information on legal proceedings that do not involve either Mr. Klein individually or the Petitioners, falsely represent that judgments have been taken against the Petitioners and/or Mr. Klein individually, falsely identify a bankruptcy proceeding, also identify lawsuits that do not involve Petitioners and/or Mr. Klein individually," the suit states.

The Web address www.samtheeagleusa.blogspot.com, first leads to a page containing a beach scene, soothing music and the words "Welcome to Sam the Eagle Center for peaceful meditation." To access the actual site, a user must click on "learn more about meditation" or instead go directly to www.notthisonetoojacque.blogspot.com.

Then a home page pops up that appears similar to the Southeast Texas Political Review's home page, but with various satiric remarks scattered throughout.

For example, the banner describing Sam the Eagle's blog reads, "The story behind the story behind the story that I just made up in East Texas politics."

The site posts stories attacking the Southeast Texas Political Review and includes an article about the Aug. 26 lawsuit against it.

PRK and Klein Investments allege both Web sites are engaged in the violation of copyright laws, as they do not have permission to reprint snippets of articles appearing on the Southeast Texas Political Review.

"A review of the Web sites make it clear that they are not expressing any 'opinions' protected by the First Amendment but instead are solely vehicles for defamation," the suit states.

In addition to the information they requested, PRK and Klein Investments are seeking general and special relief.

They will be represented by John S. Morgan of Harris, Duesler and Hatfield in Beaumont.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: E184-784.

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