According to newly-invested Judge Bloom (congratulations!!), it just might:
What in Tarnation is a Surrogate Dibble, No way this can be a real human beings name, low class redneck pig excrement, redneck asshole, PATHETIC, LOWCLASS, INBRED REDNECK SCUMBAG, venom-spewing, mud-sucking, LOW-CLASS REDNECK, REDNECK LOSERS, SON OF A BITCH, SCUMBAG DRIBBLE, Now do us all a big favor and go play some Russian Roulette with SIX rounds in the chamberOk, purely as a wordsmith -- this has a certain rhythm.
WHAT IN TARNATION IS A SURROGATE DIBBLE, This low-class, inbred, half-witted, redneck, idiot, horse’s ass, bully, CHEAPSKATE AND ASSHOLE, venom-spewing, mud-sucking clown, NON-CUSTOMER, pig-farmer, miserable redneck loser, Surrogate Dibble yo-yo, son of a bitch, SCUMBAG DRIBBLE
But the judge says it could have something more:
Defendants contend that Avrich’s offending statements amount to nothing more than rhetorical name-calling or expressions of opinion which cannot be construed as statements of fact. Therefore, they argue, the statements cannot constitute actionable defamation. Defendant’s comments stem from his apparently strongly-held convictions about Plaintiff’s name. This may turn out to be a case about literal name calling. But, Defendant’s publications also contain statements about Plaintiff’s intelligence, class, ancestry and business-relevant qualities. As examples of the latter, Defendant allegedly stated that Plaintiff might not be a real person, is a cheapskate, a “non-customer,” and lacks any credibility. Compl. ¶ 10.Anonymous internet trolls and thoughtless rhetoric -- where have we heard that before?
Construing the allegations in the Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court cannot conclude at this stage that Defendant’s comments are mere rhetoric and cannot constitute defamatory publications. See, e.g., Presley v. Graham, 936 F. Supp. 2d 1316, 1325-26 (M.D. Ala. 2013) (finding, at pleading stage, that statement that plaintiff was “a supervisor’s nightmare,” even if opinion, could be interpreted by a reasonable reader as a fact-based summation). In our age of anonymous internet trolls and the often-uninformed echo-chamber of the blogosphere, maybe no reasonable reader would take Defendant’s statements as asserting facts rather than just one more outspewing of thoughtless rhetoric. But the Court is not willing to say, as a matter of law, that Defendant’s insults are incapable of being interpreted as false facts. Visitors of transportreviews.com may understand Defendant to be stating that Plaintiff is in fact inbred, or not a real person, or, at the very least, someone you wouldn’t want to do business with. The Complaint fairly and plausibly alleges as much. Whether it is true requires the Court to consider a factual context for the parties to address and develop in discovery. Plaintiff’s allegations of defamation will survive Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.