A suit filed by Amber Hill Farm, LLC seeks to exert editorial control over Rate My Horse PRO and private posters in online equestrian forums. The suit alleges 12 defendants, 10 of which are “Jane Doe” or “John Doe”, have conspired to willfully and maliciously injure Amber Hill Farm by posting what they should have known to be untrue information online.
The complaint seeks to weave a connection between Samantha Lawton-Duthie, a Virginia resident, Rate My Horse PRO, and 10 other entities, which they allege they cannot identify. The suit links Rate My Horse PRO to Lawton-Duthie by Rate My Horse PRO’s posting of legal documents, and verdict, all of which are contained in public records. That legal dispute was between Lawton-Duthie and Amber Hill Farm. Elizabeth Mandarino, the managing member, is the farm’s owner.
The documents state “Ratemyhorsepro.com published the judgment amount but did not publish the letter opinion in a further attempt to deceive the public regarding the case and Amber Hill’s business practices. Ratemyhorsepro.com also did not report a verdict in the customary fashion for most verdict-reporting news sources, i.e., inclusion of the last settlement demand amount and last settlement offer amounts.”
Debbie Hanson, Director of Media Relations for Rate My Horse PRO says, “we believe this suit is an attempt to silence our reporting of legal disputes contained in public record and the facts as they relate to Elizabeth Mandarino and Amber Hill Farm. The company will handle this matter through the proper legal channels, and will defend its First Amendment Rights, and the horse community’s right to know.”
Allegations of libelous comments from online message board users are contained within the pages, and include Mandarino has “no real training background,” and that a national pony talent search hosted by Amber Hill Farm “ultimately went so awry.”
Amber Hill Farm is seeking a jury trial.