I received the following letter from correspondence from Attorney Michael Pelagalli this week:
RE: DEMAND FOR DELETION
PROPOSED RESOLUTION OF DISPUTE
Please be advised that our firm represents Mr. Jaybird O’Berski relative to the false and defamatory statements that have been published about him online on multiple platforms, including but not limited to Facebook and jayoberski.org. Please allow this correspondence to serve as a formal and advance notification of our representation of Mr. O’Berski. If you are represented by legal counsel, I respectfully request you forward this correspondence to their attention.
Based on your own public postings and comments, we understand that you are thea dministrator of the blog, “The Unfortunate Truth About Jay O’Berski” (jayoberski.org), which has republished posts and comments from your Facebook profile.
Our firm wholly respects your First Amendment right to free speech in this country. Had you limited your publications about our client to speech protected under the Constitution, you would not be receiving this letter. That said, in light of the seriousness and falsity of your claims, Mr. O’Berski cannot stand idly by and allow you to baselessly defame his name on numerous platforms that all but appear to be intentionally designed to flood his online search results. Further, as recently as February 2023, you have written about your continued efforts to have Mr. O’Berski professionally ruined and even included contact information where members of the public, who may or may not have any knowledge whatsoever regarding your claims, could submit demands to attempt to stop him from ever working as a therapist. Notably, you also expressly claimed that Mr. O’Berski has engaged in blackmail efforts via threats of criminal conduct to attempt to silence someone speaking about him.
Our firm was retained, specifically, because disputes involving online defamation is our firm’s specialty practice area. At the outset, and to be clear, Mr. O’Berski vehemently denies the allegations contained in your posts that he has ever groomed, pressured, or sexually harassed anyone, ever. You have no firsthand, personal knowledge of same and your allegations of criminal conduct are false, baseless, and were published with malicious intent. Second, his voluntary separation from Duke University had absolutely nothing to do with allegations of any kind of misconduct whatsoever. Any allegation or even implication of the same present in your postings is unfounded and objectively disprovable. Our firm is in possession of documentary evidence that supports this completely. Third, Mr. O’Berski wholly denies ever threatening anyone in an effort to silence true speech or coerce untrue speech, especially by way of criminal threats as you described.
Making false statements online regarding Mr. O’Berski subjects you to potential civil liability for defamation. Repeatedly contacting Mr. O’Berski’s professional contacts and employer(s) based on nothing more than falsehoods and pure speculation constitutes tortious interference and also subjects you to potential civil liability. While you have already caused a great deal of reputational harm to our client, our goal here is simple: to work with you to effectuate as swift a resolution as possible to this dispute. To that end, Mr. O’Berski requests that you permanently delete the posts about him on Facebook and jayoberski.org.
Once you delete the posts about Mr. O’Berski active online, our office will send you a written proposal to resolve this dispute formally and mutually. This will demand no monetary compensation from you or public apology of any sort. Rather, Mr. O’Berski simply wants to move forward with his personal and professional life with some assurances that these posts and baseless allegations will not be republished by you in the future. If you agree not to post about him in the future, and if you agree not to contact his employers, school, colleagues, etc. now and in the future, he will agree to release all the legal claims he presently has against you for the above-described conduct.
If I do not hear from you and/or your legal counsel on or before Wednesday May 17, 2023, we will understand your silence and/or lack of response to indicate your desire to resolve this dispute via Court intervention. I am happy to discuss this situation further with you and/or your legal representative on the phone or via Zoom. I thank you in advance for your time and attention.
Very truly yours,
Michael Pelagalli, Esq.
I responded with the following:
I have your complaint. I will require more than 7 days. I will do my best to respond within 30 days.
To which Michael Responded:
Thank for you for the fast response. I am happy to afford you additional time to formulate a complete response and/or consult with counsel. That said, given the ongoing damage from your website being levied upon my client daily, I respectfully ask that you deactivate / de-list the website during this period of time that you and are in discussions about a potential resolution to this dispute. Is this something you are agreeable to?Thanks, and I look forward to working with you,
The website in question has my testimony and the testimony of others. 100% of those words are published on other publicly available platforms. I'm simply reposting that content in an attempt to maintain a central public record of this discourse. I make no claims for the words of others and will let them speak for themselves. If they ask for updates to their words, I will update them. I feel that those cases are clearly marked on the site.For my words, I will seek council and explore what if any of the claims of defamation you have made in your letter have merit. If any of them do, I will take clear and observable steps to update and correct the language to cure any potential defamation. For that, I require time to find and engage with council. Between now and then, I will leave everything as it is.
To be clear, I have no desire to personally post or host defamatory content. I take your complaint very seriously. As such and as a show of good faith, while I examine your general complaints, if there are specific items you'd like to see removed because you know those specific statements to be false and have proof to show that they are false, I will be happy to consider removing or editing those specific statements while we work this out. But I will not take down statements I believe to be true during that time. This is because I understand that the burden of proof is yours in this case.
Furthermore, I reserve the right to publish this letter and any communication we have in the future as a faithful record of his attempts to silence his detractors.