The US Federal District Court Middle District has issued a final order declaring Oxebridge as the prevailing party in its defamation lawsuit against the Elsmar website. The final ruling ordered the payment of attorney’s fees, and reflects the second such payment, the first being a payment of damages as a result of a court-ordered mediated settlement agreement.
The case arose from a 15-year flood of defamatory statements and copyright violations published on the popular quality management forum Elsmar Cove by its moderators, including convicted felon Wes Bucey, former DNV sales representative Sidney Vianna, UL auditor Jennifer Kirley, BSI auditor Randall Daily and former NQA sales representative Andy Nichols. Overall, the defamation spanned a period of more than 15 years, first appearing online in January of 2000. Oxebridge was banned from posting on the Elsmar site to defend itself, a fact about which moderators, including Mr. Vianna and Mr. Nichols, openly boasted.
Mr. Bucey, who in 1988 was sentenced to seven years in Federal prison for a bizarre drug trafficking and money laundering operation run out of his home-based Huguenot church, publicly plotted to “destroy” Oxebridge’s founder, Christopher Paris, through bad word of mouth. He was joined by a handful of registrar representatives of ISO consultants and US TAG representatives in a one-sided argument against Oxebridge that grew to include hate speech, site hacks, harassing emails and death threats.
Mr. Daily once claimed that Oxebridge denied him employment, but later admitted the story was untrue and that he had never approached Oxebridge for employment at all; nevertheless, Mr. Daily refused to remove the defamatory materials.
Mr. Vianna republished seven Oxebridge articles on the Elsmar site, without permission, peppering them with defamatory comments alleging the Oxebridge investigations into registrar malpractice were actually the result of Mr. Paris having suffered a “psychotic breakdown.” Vianna was later removed from his former job as DNV Director of Aviation, Space and Defense Services, and now has a role as an engineer in DNV’s maritime division. Vianna also stepped down from the IAQG, which oversees development of the AS9100 standard.
The defamatory material spread to Google Groups, Reddit, Ripoff Report and a host of LinkedIn groups, usually posted under fake names, but sometimes by established ISO professionals using their real names. The court ordered that the defamatory material be removed, but it was not, prompting the contempt of court complaint.
Despite claims to the contrary, and the selective publication of partial court documents to suggest otherwise, Oxebridge did not seek the closure of the Elsmar website, but fought to keep it open. Moderators discussed the site was being shut down as early as 2013, over a year prior to any Oxebridge legal actions, citing low user financial contributions and increasing operating costs. During settlement negotiations, Oxebridge presented four different scenarios to keep the site operating while having its content monitored to ensure no future defamation occurred, but all were rejected by the Elsmar attorney, Simeon D. Brier, who insisted “the site is closing down anyway.” Brier suggested a firm shutdown date in a provision that Oxebridge would receive a lesser cash damages award, under a model whereby Oxebridge’s own forum could be monetized to offset the lower award.
Shortly thereafter, Brier was terminated and despite the agreement, the site reopened under the claim it was operated by “John Peachfarm.” It appears this person is fictitious, as they use an anonymous “Neomailbox.ch” email address typically used by hackers to hide one’s identity. The site claims to be operated by a Swiss company “Peachfarm Internet Properties LLC,” but the central Swiss business agency says no such company exists, and furthermore the corporate designation “LLC” (“Limited Liability Corporation”) is used by US companies, not Swiss, which typically are designated as “AG” (“Aktiengesellschaft”). The Elsmar site has also moved its servers out of US court control, boasting, “We are located ‘off shore’… so requests for user data or other information by US or EU courts are not responded to.”
To date, Oxebridge has prevailed in all cases brought against it, as well as those it has launched against others. US TAG 176 representative Allen Gluck, along with French consultant Alex Dali, launched an unsuccessful defamation lawsuit against Oxebridge for reporting that Mr. Dali had posed as a woman online to attract students to certification courses for their G31000 ISO 31000 risk management firm. The case was thrown out of court, and Gluck later separated from Dali and formed his own competing company, ERM31000.
ISO attempted twice to utilize copyright and trademark lawsuit threats to silence Oxebridge’s reporting of its standards development activities, and twice the case did not reach the court. ISO has since stopped pursuing this tactic after Oxebridge warned it was engaged in “trademark bullying” declared illegal under the Obama administration. Despite this, ISO’s attorneys Carter Ledyard & Milburn have since used the Oxebridge name in their marketing, falsely claiming that they were successful in the cases; Oxebridge is pursuing a New York Bar ruling against the attorneys for making false statement in their promotions.
Oxebridge is currently exploring legal options regarding the members of the US TAG to ISO TC 176, who have expanded their defamation of Oxebridge outside of the Elsmar forum. TAG member Denis DeVos helped to spread the false claim that “Oxebridge shut down Elsmar,” and George Hummel has been found declaring “Oxebridge is bankrupt.” TAG leaders Alka Jarvis, Jack West, Paul Palmes and Denise Robitaille are apparently colluding with certificate mill operator Daryl Guberman in the filing of over 40 fraudulent DMCA copyright notices, in an attempt to get the Oxebridge site shut down. The TAG also potentially violated the US Sherman Act when it used its official capacity in an attempt to have Mr. Paris replaced by one of the TAG leadership at a Fordham University speaking event for ASQ.
The core role that Oxebridge plays in representing and advocating for ISO standards users puts it at odds with the incumbent registrar/auditor/consultant scheme, which is rife with conflicts of interest and pay-to-play malpractice. As a result, the bad actors often resort to online defamation to attempt to silence Oxebridge. Since 2000, the tactic has not been successful.