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Swiger v. Allegheney Energy

Topic(s): Internet Free Speech - Right To Speak Anonymously
Status: open
Date Of Involvement: 10/31/2005

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In July 2003, an Allegheny Energy employee posted anonymous criticisms of the company in a Yahoo! Message board room dedicated to discussion of the company. Three months later, the company filed suit against “John Doe” in Pennsylvania as an excuse to subpoena Yahoo! for disclosure of information about the poster of the critical remarks. Public Citizen represented the employee in a subsequent suit alleging that Allegheny and its attorneys abused the processes of the courts by filing suit, not for the purpose of pursuing a legal claim, but for the purpose of learning the poster's identity so that it could fire him after more than 16 years on the job. The federal district court dismissed the case, holding that it lacked diversity jurisdiction over a lawsuit involving a partnership where one of the partners is a dual American-British citizen domiciled in a foreign state. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.