Judge Finds for UFO Watchdog
A classic UFO Watchdog article (c) by Royce Myers, III
Supposed Psychic Sean David Morton Ordered To Pay UFOWATCHDOG.COM
In January 2003, self-proclaimed "World's Foremost UFO Researcher" Sean David Morton filed a one-million dollar defamation lawsuit against UFOWATCHDOG.COM and its editor, alleging that the website had published "false" and "malicious" information about him in a series of articles which raised serious questions about many of Morton's UFO and psychic claims, his background claims, and his credibility.
Morton alleged the articles appearing at the UFOWATCHDOG.COM website in relation to him were "slanderous". In court papers, Morton further claimed that the articles "tend to injure [Morton] in his profession and business" and tend to "lessen the credibility of [Morton] as an author, lecturer, and talk show radio host and affect and lessen the profits of [Morton's] business and occupation." Morton also alleged that he had "suffered loss of his reputation, shame, mortification, and hurt feelings all to his general damage in the sum of one million dollars..."
UFOWATCHDOG.COM editor Royce Meyers, III commented on Morton's accusations saying, "The lawsuit was clearly a desperate attempt to stifle any debate about Morton's UFO and psychic claims."
Morton failed to respond to any invitation for comment for over two years, though direct inquiries were made and an open invitation for Morton to comment was posted on the UFOWATCHDOG.COM website. Throughout the lawsuit, UFOWATCHDOG.COM stood by what it had published and that no defamation had taken place.
The type of lawsuit filed by Morton is known as a SLAPP, which stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Such lawsuits are usually filed under the guise of a defamation claim and are designed to silence outspoken opponents or critics by forcing them to devote time and resources in combating a lawsuit. Recognizing the need to protect people from being the targets of SLAPPs, the California State Legislature enacted a law which would allow a defendant to file an anti-SLAPP motion to demonstrate the lawsuit against them is baseless.
UFOWATCHDOG.COM retained well known Los Angeles civil rights attorney Carol A. Sobel to represent the website and its editor. Sobel immediately filed an anti-SLAPP motion to show that Morton's lawsuit had absolutely no merit.
"He thrust himself into the UFO and paranormal fields by making his claims publicly in print, on the Internet, on a few television shows, lecturing, and on late night radio. First he wants to say aliens are here, that UFOs are real and that the government is flying UFOs at a secret test site.
But when it came down to responding to the anti-SLAPP motion filed against him, Morton's lawyer says UFOs don't exist because the government says they don't and that UFOs aren't of any public importance. That seemed to be just a bit hypocritical," said Myers.
With the anti-SLAPP motion filed, Morton only had to prove that a single false statement was made by UFOWATCHDOG.COM. The California anti-SLAPP statute clearly gave Morton an open door to present evidence to show that he could prevail in court and that the allegations made by Morton against UFOWATCHDOG.COM had merit.
"The anti-SLAPP motion directly challenged Morton to present any evidence that his claim against UFOWATCHDOG.COM was true. All he had to do was prove a single false statement had been made. When it came time for Morton to put up, his proof never materialized. Morton only needed to provide the court with a solitary piece of evidence and he couldn't do it," said Myers.
In an extensive two-page ruling, the presiding judge stated that Morton had "not shown that he can prevail or show actual malice or that the matters complained of are not true..." ruling in favor of UFOWATCHDOG.COM, thus dismissing the unfounded lawsuit.
When asked what the reaction was to UFOWATCHDOG.COM's victory in court, Myers said, " The overall response was extremely positive and supportive. There were a few antagonists out there crying foul about the ruling, but in this case the facts are on file with the courts, facts which anyone can obtain. The point a few people don't want to acknowledge is that Morton had a perfect opportunity to stand up and prove his claims by providing evidence and he couldn't do it. In this case, it was clear that such proof didn't exist."
With UFOWATCHDOG.COM proving that Morton's lawsuit was baseless, California law gives the right for a prevailing party in an anti-SLAPP hearing to seek a court order awarding payment of attorney fees and other costs associated with the motion. In a recent ruling, a judgment was entered against Morton ordering him to pay nearly $16,000.00 in attorney fees.
Myers commented, "I find it amusing that Morton alleges he can teach people how to use psychic powers and remote view anything, yet he couldn't use his own supposed psychic powers to see what was going to happen in court. That turned out to be an expensive psychic reading for someone who advertises himself as 'one of America's greatest psychics'."
Since early 2001, UFOWATCHDOG.COM has been a news source for both UFOs and the paranormal. Most notably, UFOWATCHDOG.COM has challenged a number of the claims made by well known UFO personalities, has provided commentary on the UFO and paranormal fields, as well as having exposed UFO hoaxes all in an effort to further more rational and scientific debate regarding issues such as UFOs and the paranormal.
Related Press Releases:
Lawsuit Aims To Silence Voice Of Critic In UFO Debate
UFOWATCHDOG.COM Prevails In Court
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