United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HONORABLE PATTI B. SARIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jonathan Mullane, a former student of the University of Miami
Law School, brings this action againstBreaking Media,
Inc., and journalist Elie Mystal alleging that an article on
the legal website “Above the Law” was defamatory.
asserts claims against Mystal and Breaking Media for libel
per se, tortious interference with contractual relations,
tortious interference with advantageous business relations,
tortious interference with prospective economic advantages,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair and
deceptive practices in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A
§ 9, joint and several liability for the republication
of libel per se, and civil conspiracy.
motion to dismiss (Docket No. 80) is ALLOWED
and Plaintiff's remaining motions (Docket Nos. 103, 140,
141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 157, 162) are DENIED
as MOOT. The motions of Plaintiff's
father, E. Peter Mullane, related to intervention in this
case (Docket Nos. 138, 158, 161) are DENIED
facts are primarily drawn from the Plaintiff's Second
Amended Complaint and the documents referenced therein,
including the attached transcript of the Court hearing.
Docket No. 57; Docket No. 57-1.
Mullane's Hearing with Judge Moreno
was a student at the University of Miami School of Law
beginning in the fall of 2017. See Docket No. 57-1 at 11;
Docket No. 138-1 at 10-12. During the spring of 2018, Mullane
served as a legal intern with the United States
Attorney's Office (“USAO”) in the Southern
District of Florida. Docket No. 57 ¶¶ 7, 10.
employed with the USAO, Mullane was party to a pro se civil
lawsuit involving a credit card dispute pending before Judge
Federico Moreno in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida. Docket No. 22 at 2. In April
2018, Mullane entered Judge Moreno's chambers, allegedly
to request that the clerk make an entry of default in
connection with this personal civil dispute. See Docket No.
57 ¶ 83-84.
Moreno subsequently summoned Mullane to a hearing on April
10, 2018. Docket No. 57 ¶ 52. During the hearing,
Mullane appeared to acknowledge that he had sought to file a
writ of mandamus in his pending case. See Docket No. 57-1 at
13:14-18 (“THE COURT: Did you mention the word petition
for mandamus? . . . MR. MULLANE: I did.”); Id.
at 25:17-19 (“THE COURT: What was the question? MR.
MULLANE: I can't remember exactly. It was about how to
file the mandamus request or something.”). But see
Id. at 7:19-20 (“MR. MULLANE: I said that I
had a specific question about the entry of default.”).
Judge Moreno reprimanded Mullane for his actions. See
generally Docket No. 57-1 at 4-30. Mullane was terminated
from his internship at the USAO soon after the hearing.
Docket No. 57 ¶ 21.
“Above the Law” Publishes Article on the
April 30, 2018, the legal news publication “Above the
Law” published an article, titled “Judge
Detonates Pro Se Law Student So Hard I Now Must Defend a Dumb
Kid” (the “Article”). Docket No. 57 ¶
68; Docket No. 57-1 at 32-36. The Article was authored by
Mystal, the Executive Editor of “Above the Law.”
Docket No. 57 ¶ 68, 77. “Above the Law” is
owned and published by Breaking Media. Docket No. 23 ¶
Article describes the April 10, 2018 hearing. It states,
• “[Mullane] was trying to file a petition of
mandamus -- which basically asks an appellate court to order
Judge Moreno to work on his case faster. That's pretty
rude. He didn't know where to file the petition, and
ended up asking the judge's career clerk, in the
judge's chambers, ex-parte, what to do about it.
That's pretty dumb. Initially, the clerk wasn't even
going to let him in, but Mullane said he worked for the U.S.
Attorney's office (he's an intern), which gained him
access to the chambers to discuss his own personal case.
That's pretty unethical.”
• “Basically Mullane was an idiot . . . .”
• “[T]o gain entry into those chambers, he dropped
his USAO cred, even though he was just an intern, and even
though he was there for reasons that had nothing to do with
• “It also appears that Mullane is a little
entitled ponce . . . .”
• “Turns out the kid's father is also an
attorney . . . wonder if that helped him get his sweet
• “Okay, so Jon Mullane is a little brat who [sic]
with a USAO internship who had an ex-parte conversation in
judge's chambers while trying to file a motion arguing
that the judge was lazily ignoring his pro se
• “If Mullane is a dauphin . . . .”
• “The kid wasn't trying to upend the wheels
of justice, he made a series of dumb mistakes.”
Docket No. 57-1 at 32-36.
the publication of the Article, the Securities Exchange
Commission (“SEC”) rescinded Mullane's
invitation to serve as a “Student Honors
Volunteer.” Docket No. 57-1 at 43. Mullane later
withdrew from the University of Miami School of Law. Docket
No. 57 ¶ 125. He claims that the Defendants' actions
caused him economic, professional and emotional harm.
Id. ¶ 110-126.