|Co-Editor of Jack Anderson Column Files Suit Against Internet Free Speech Advocate |
July 23, 2004
Douglas Cohn, CEO of HQuotient Software and Co-Editor of famed investigative journalist Jack Anderson's Washington Merry Go Round syndicated column has filed a SLAPP suit against Max Jones, an internet critic of his company.
(PRWEB) Lefty's Bar and Grill.org, a private internet community of penny stock market reform advocates, announced today that is sponsering a legal defense fund site for Texas native Max "jigfish" Jones, an internet message board critic of Vienna, VA based HQuotient Software. HQuotient, a "penny stock" trading on the Pink Sheets, offers various medical software products and services. Jones has been sued by Douglas Cohn, CEO of HQuotient for posting allegedly defamatory comments about the company on the Internet message board site Raging Bull. "Jigfish" is the internet alias under which Jones posted his comments.
The defense fund site is on the Web at:
All donations to the fund will be deposited to a trust account maintained by Jones' Virginia counsel, and will be used only for the direct expenses of his defense.
In the suit in the US District Court for Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, case #04-CV-468, Cohn alleges that Jones is behind a sinister plot to sell his company's stock short and profit from a decline in its share price. Since filing the suit the penny stock-which trades on the pink sheets under the symbol HQNT-has lost 75% of its value. Jones denies any involvement in HQNT trading or short selling, and has not been a shareholder of HQNT for several years.
Corporate suits against critics are often termed SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).In contrast to most litigation, SLAPP suits are brought, not to resolve a problem, but to remove a controversy from the public arena-where the company may be loosing the battle of opinion-to the judicial arena where the "chill" and expense of defense may enable the company to use its financial resources to silence its critics.
The suit against Jones is doubly ironic in that Jack Anderson, famed investigative journalist and free speech advocate, served until recently on the HQNT Board of Directors and shares authorship of his Washington Merry-Go-Round syndicated column with HQNT CEO Cohn. Anderson will always be remembered for his dogged pursuit of the truth and his tireless defense of free speech rights. Anderson's writings have earned him a Pulitzer prize, and he has received numerous awards and citations for his defense of the First Amendment.
"Jack Anderson has always been a hero of mine," said LB&G spokesperson Thomas "Lefty" Malone. "but he seems to have slipped a cog or two lately. Why on earth would Jack condone suing a person for asking questions about the management and public claims of a public company? Since he was on the Board of Directors of the Company and closely allied with Cohn he had to have known of this action."
"Anderson seems to have had problems with his famed sense of smell in the recent past," continued Malone. "He wrote a undocumented column devoted to the psuedo issue of "naked shorting" in which he claimed that this practice was funding terrorism. Neither he not Cohn disclosed in the column that they were principals in a company claiming to have been a victim of this practice. Now he is condoning this abuse of free speech by his silence."
HQNT recently announced the resignation of Anderson from the Board of Directors of the company. According to a company statement, Mr. Anderson resigned because of serious health problems.
"In our opinion," continued Malone, "this suit is nothing but a desperate attempt to silence critics of what looks to be a failing business. Our-Street.com, an internet watchdog publication, accused the company of accounting irregularities last year. The company announced the resignation of its auditor two weeks before its annual audited financial statements were due, and has since missed deadline after deadline for filing audited statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Because of this delay the company has been delisted from the NASDAQ OTC-BB market and now trades on the pink sheets. Max did nothing but ask legitimate questions. We think Cohn targeted him because he is 70 years old, has heart problems, and has no resources for his legal defense."
Other HQNT woes include losing a civil fraud suit filed by the Ohio Hospital Association, who alleged HQNT misrepresented the capabilities of their software products and their corporate capabilities. Although HQNT is appealing the case, they were required to post a bond of over $500,000 to guarantee payment of the judgement should their appeal of the original default judgement be unsuccessful. HQuotient is also defending itself in a $1.9 million dollar lawsuit that alleges that HQNT committed stock fraud. Detailed information about this suit and other HQNT financial issues are available at the Our Street website, www.our-street.com. Our Street has no affiliation with Lefty's Bar and Grill.org.
"SLAPP suits are the last resort of a scam in most cases," said Malone. "When company officials cannot refute critics, they try to silence them through abusive use of the court system."
"Max is standing up to this abuse and fighting it," continued Malone. "but he needs your financial assistance. It's that simple. If you believe in free speech, then go the Max Jones Legal Defense site and donate."
"Maybe," said Malone, "Anderson will come to his senses and send in a pledge."
The Defense Fund is on the Web at leftysbarandgrill.org
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