Saturday, May 16, 2009

If You Tell, We'll Sue You!

Dear Readers,
This is a Mille Lacs News article about the SLAPP lawsuits, dated May 28, 2008 - reprinted here for your information.
If You Tell, We'll Sue You!

by Hannabelle
Mille Lacs News Staff Writer

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning."
Frederick Douglass

It would appear that Nexus is all in favor of Freedom of Speech - unless you say something they'd rather you not say - about them. The old mantra your mother may have taught you: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" seems to have become obsolete. According to the new lawsuit threatening Hannabelle, Nexus' stance is: If you can't say anything nice, we'll sue you.

And of course, Hannabelle can't find anything nice to say about Nexus. She has, however, taken up the role of Town Crier, letting the world know what she has found out about Nexus, in spite of the oncoming lawsuits meant to shut her up. Hannabelle can't say anything nice, but she keeps telling it like it is. But keep in mind that Nexus hasn't shown Hannabelle any of the "Minnesota Nice" that might temper her comments about the multi-million dollar private corporation which has forced itself upon her. They've been feeding her fire.

Jim D'Angelo - Plaintiff
The first defamation lawsuit facing Hannabelle was filed by former Nexus CEO Jim D'Angelo and Nexus board member Peter Freeman, who is a college teacher in the Social Work Department at St. Thomas University. The D'Angelo portion of the lawsuit complains that Hannabelle called him "arrogant" and said that he is a "snake". One must wonder how this corporate president made it through grade school unscathed. Or perhaps he was indeed scathed. Of course, he will probably sue Hannabelle for mentioning that he might have been scathed... The point is, Hannabelle did not defame D'Angelo. If calling someone "Poopsie" is defamation, the courts would be filled with second graders.

Peter Freeman - Plaintiff
The Peter Freeman portion of the lawsuit is equally ridiculous. When Peter Freeman, a teacher of Social Work, used hostile tactics of ostracism against Hannabelle, he behaved in a manner incongruent with the mission of the University which employs him. Just hanging up the phone on someone is unprofessional and immature, but it can also be strategic. Freeman hung up on Hannabelle as soon as she identified herself, refusing to even listen to why she has contacted him. But it wasn't this typical Nexusian act - the Silent Treatment - that prompted Hannabelle to lodge a complaint against the professor - who has special interest in "scapegoating" by the way... Hannabelle, who was also a college instructor (before a health crisis left her permanently disabled), expressed her concern to the Dean of his department via a personal email, and only after Freeman sent a maliciously cruel response obviously meant to cause pain to her. It was this show of cruelty which disturbed Hannabelle. Now, keep in mind that Hannabelle didn't over-react by filing a formal complaint. She merely notified the Dean that one of St. Thomas' teachers had behaved badly. (An apology by Freeman would have gone a long way...) It was private and personal until Freeman himself couldn't let it go. He retaliated. Shortly thereafter, Hannabelle received the "We're gonna sue your ass" letter from D'Angelo and Freeman's lawyers.

Is litigation justifiable for a simple complaint?
Since when is it forbidden for a person to complain about being treated badly, (especially about someone who is forcing 94 convicted sex offenders down the street from her elderly, frail mom?) The First Amendment of our Constitution says that Freedom of Speech is not forbidden. It is something to be protected. It is something that makes us America. Both D'Angelo and Freeman are using this lawsuit to silence, damage and punish Hannabelle. Money might not be able to buy everything, but it can buy several lawyers unethical enough to wage a frivolous lawsuit intended to gag the Town Crier. Think about it... You are no longer allowed to complain about anything or anybody without the threat of a lawsuit against you? If that's the way it works, perhaps a countersuit against Peter Freeman is in order. After all, he complained about Hannabelle... when he sued her.

Nexus - Plaintiff
On the same note, Nexus is now threatening to sue Hannabelle for writing about and making a video which exposes the homicide of one of Nexus' clients by an employee of one of their affiliates - Gerard, in a former facility in Mason City, Iowa. Hannabelle made a comment that Nexus didn't like - so they are threatening to sue her for defamation. The comment? "Nexus - getting away with murder."

Getting away with murder
The interesting part is that in order to tell Hannabelle why her statement is "defamatory", the lawyers also proved her point. They basically emphasized that they got away with murder. The boy died in a "take-down" situation in a Nexus facility. He was smothered to death by the employee. The medical examiner ruled it a homicide. Yet, Nexus attorneys point out that Nexus was never charged. Exactly. The boy was killed. Nexus got away with murder. Is this defamatory? Nope. Opinion based on facts. Remember, Hannabelle has merely reported about Nexus. It is not Hannabelle's fault that Nexus has skeletons in their closets.

But why Nexus would want to go to court to explain the fact that one of their boys was killed by one of their employees is beyond me. There's sure to be negative publicity. In the discovery phase of the lawsuit, wouldn't all the nitty-gritty details come out? Dirty little secrets? The angry parents of the boy claimed that the employee had not received proper training. They intended to sue Nexus for the boy's death - but never did. Don't you wonder if there was a settlement and how much money Nexus paid to make this horrible situation go away? hmmm. Frankly, I'm surprised that Nexus didn't sue the boy's parents for expressing their anger about the homicide.

Suing their victims
The problem with Nexus is that they have victimized property owners in my neighborhood, then threaten to sue us if we complain - about having 94 sex offenders, a five building institutional complex in our rural area, about laws and ordinances being changed or ignored, our rights being disregarded, and the outright lies about safety/risk, etc.

Indeed, Nexus seems to utilize some of the very tactics of the sex offenders they purport to treat. If you study juvenile sex offenders, you will find that in order to control their victims, they often make threats like:

"If you tell, I'll kill you..."

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