I've been predicting that he'd do this, so there really isn't any news here: Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) CEO Patrick Byrne is begging a judge in Canada to have mercy, and please, please not force him to face in court one of the people he has slandered.
Byrne, who recently brayed that he would be willing to "go a few rounds" with a Canadian stock promoter who was targeted by Byrne's Deep Capture conspiracy website, is running, figuratively speaking, to the U.S. border. He has filed papers with the British Columbia Superior Court asking that the lawsuit against him be dismissed on the grounds that the court has no jurisdiction.
I've uploaded here some of the papers filed on behalf of Byrne, his shell company High Plains Investments, his stooge Mark Mitchell and Deep Capture itself.
This issue will be heard by the court on Dec. 13, along with a motion by the plantiff, Altaf Nazerali, to find Byrne in contempt of court for violating a court-imposed gag order.
According to Stockwatch:
In a separate application filed on Dec. 5, Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Byrne are asking that the judge dismiss or at least stay the case. They say that the lawsuit does not allege anything that, if true, would prove the B.C. courts have jurisdiction over them. There is nothing to indicate that anyone in B.C. has downloaded or read any of the material from the deepcapture.com site.
Much of the application discusses the jurisdictional argument, and says little about the other aspects of the case. (Emphasis added)
Certainly! What can this lawyer say, that his clients are telling the truth? He knows better than to do that, when his own client has said otherwise.
How wondrous this is. Byrne and his PR team, headed by a nauseating former Florida GOP trickster named Judd Bagley, have been crowing for years that none of the targets of his smears and fantasies are willing to take him on in a libel suit.
The reason, as Byrne well knows, is that libel litigation is prohibitively expensive - and few if any of his targets were born to billionaires, as Byrne was (GEICO tycoon John Byrne).
But here we have a libel plaintiff, Nazerali, who can afford to take on Byrne in court. And Byrne won't have any of it.
Small wonder. As I pointed out the other day, the disgraced ex-journo Mitchell admitted in writing that he made up a lot of the stuff he said about Nazerali.
It doesn't get better than that if you're a libel plaintiff.
What makes this run for the border even more cowardly is that Byrne told his brainless fellow conspiracy theorists that he was willing to "go a few rounds" with Nazerali. But now he's trying to break that promise, showing that he's simply not man enough to let a Canadian jury determine if what he said was true or a pack of lies.
After all, if Nazerali is the criminal mastermind he is portrayed as being in Deep Capture - which described him as an associate of Al Qaeda,among other things - libel litigation would be an ideal forum for Byrne. He'd get publicity, and lots of it. Vindication. He would be able to use the court's discovery procedures to rip the "miscreant" (to use a favorite Byrne-ism) Nazerali to shreds.
But you'll notice that, apart from his macho outburst, Byrne has made no effort to publicize this libel suit. Certainly it would not have violated the court order for his lawyers to issue a statement saying, "We deny the accusations, stand by the fine reporting of the Deep Capture investigative team, and are confident that we will be vindicated in court," or words to that effect.
Instead there has been absolute radio silence. Not a word leaked to the sycophantic Utah press corps.
On the other hand, if what he put in Deep Capture was a bunch of loony conspiracy theories and outright fabrications, going to trial in a libel suit could be mighty expensive. It is Byrne and Mitchell who would be ripped to shreds.
That's why Byrne is running hard for the border. The only question is whether the British Columbia Superior Court will let him. If it won't, he is, as they say, dog meat. He's already proven himself to be a fabulist and a coward. The only question is whether the courts of Canada will see to it that he pays well for the lies that he put on his website. Nazerali, who lives in Vancouver, is hardly a "libel tourist," so it will be interesting to see how the court decides.
But even if he wins, Byrne has already lost. Reality is catching up with the foul-mouthed phony populist. I wonder if the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Fox News or the other outlets Byrne uses for his libertarian political posturing, will add Byrne's libel adventures to his bio?
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.