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NIAC Lost Defamation Case, was Sanctioned for Discovery Abuses
Hassan Dai


Today, after 4.5 years of legal battle, U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington DC dismissed Trita Parsi and NIAC’s  complaints against me. Their complaints challenged my articles and reports that Trita Parsi and NIAC lobby for the Iranian regime and their interest in the US.   

In his decision, judge Bates wrote: "Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted, and all counts of plaintiffs' complaint will be dismissed."

Responding to our second motion to sanction NIAC and Parsi for their discovery abuses, judge accepted 7 of our 8 requests and sanctioned NIAC and ordered them to pay significant portion of the my legal expenses. (Judge's decision to sanction NIAC for discovery abuses)

I have always believed that NIAC and Trita Parsi lobby for the Iranian regime.   I maintained and reiterated this belief during the lawsuit, my deposition and in our last motions including the motion for summary  judgment. 

Hassan Daioleslam

September 13, 2012

 

 

Excerpts from judge's decision to grant summary judgment:

Nonetheless, virtually nothing in the truncated record relied on by the parties supports the proposition that defendant avoided his editors' questions and willfully avoided learning the truth. To the contrary, the record suggests that defendant and his editors were careful to substantiate his articles and that defendant engaged with those who questioned him. (P.14)

That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, sharedblame approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime. Given the other evidence defendant amassed to support his views, the Court sees no "actual malice" in defendant's decision to disregard occasional contrary statements and assume that they were made largely to burnish Parsi and NIAC's image in the United States. After all, any moderately intelligent agent for the Iranian regime would not want to be seen as unremittingly pro-regime, given the regime’s reputation in the United States. (p. 12)

The Court disagrees. While Parsi does criticize Iran's human rights record in the underlying article, his criticisms are tepid. A representative example is the following statement: "Even in long isolated Iran, a country known for its less than flattering Human Rights record, there is a trend toward the improvement of the human rights situation, although it remains far from being satisfactory."6 In this article Parsi does not come close to specifically condemning – or even mentioning – the "torture, mass executions, rapes of women in prison, and stoning" that defendant accuses him of ignoring. Moreover, the vast majority of the article is devoted to Parsi expressing his disappointment with the UCLA students who protested Kharazi's speech, not to discussing the regime's abuses. Hence, while defendant's article is certainly a strongly-worded and one-sided take on Parsi's underlying publication, it is not a distortion of the underlying publication that amounts to willful blindness or actual malice. (p. 13)

In sum, none of the communications from editors or other journalists provide any evidence that defendant had subjective doubts about his articles or willfully avoided the truth. (p.19)

What plaintiffs have overlooked is the possibility that defendant wants to discredit Parsi and "attack[] the whole web" because he genuinely believes that Parsi and his associates are advocating for or on behalf of a regime that he strongly opposes. That possibility is, in the Court's view, much more plausible than the idea that defendant's personal dislike of Parsi has motivated him to concoct dozens of elaborate articles discussing Parsi and the Iranian regime. (p.20)

 

Excerpts from Judge's decision to sanction NIAC for discovery abuses

Here, for instance, defendant has succeeded in obtaining partial fee-shifting for the PwC imaging. This fee-shifting is based on plaintiffs' discovery abuses, and defendant should not have to bear the costs of bringing those abuses to the attention of the Court. (p. 6)

Defendant has subpoenaed emails to or from NIAC employees from a number of third parties. Most of these emails are to or from NIAC employees in 2008 or 2009, and none were produced by NIAC But plaintiffs' failure to produce the other five categories of emails is indefensible, and plaintiffs made no coherent attempt to explain either in their briefing or at the motions hearing why all of these emails would not have been produced. Hrg. Tr. at 59. Most disturbingly, plaintiffs apparently gathered emails for their experts that they failed to produce to defendant, which clearly shows that plaintiffs' statement at the motions hearing that "[t]here may be technical explanations" for the failure to produce these documents is untrue. Given plaintiffs' inexplicable and unexplained behavior, it is appropriate to require them to pay the cost of serving the subpoenas (other than the subpoena to the Children of Persia employees) and the costs of bringing this portion of the instant motion. (p. 17-18)

the Court is troubled by the fact that it may be awarding sanctions based on conduct for which there is an innocent explanation that plaintiffs have simply failed to give. But plaintiffs have had more than sufficient opportunity to oppose the very clear claims in defendant's sanctions motion, and the Court cannot perpetually excuse their failure to do so. Because it seems quite clear that Parsi's interrogatory responses misrepresented when he had used the desktop – and because Parsi has never managed to explain what computer he was using during that time – some sanction is warranted.... Nonetheless, the Court believes that awarding the cost of this portion of the sanctions motion is appropriate here. In awarding sanctions, the Court is mindful not just of the need to compensate defendant, but also of the need to deter plaintiffs from future discovery abuses. (p. 22-23)

There is no question that plaintiffs have repeatedly tried to evade their discovery obligations, (p.23)

Plaintiffs must pay 60% of the expenses associated with bringing the instant motion. In addition, plaintiffs must pay for the last  wo rounds of PwC imaging; the expenses involved in bringing [112] defendant’s motion tocompel production of NIAC’s server; one-half of the expenses of Talebi’s deposition; the expenses associated with obtaining [93] the March 29, 2011 order relating to the Talebi emails; the expenses of serving the third-party subpoenas; the expenses involved in bringing [113] defendant’s motion to compel production of Salesforce data and membership lists; one-half of the expenses of the last half day of Parsi’s deposition; and one-half of the expenses of the second day of Blout’s deposition. (p. 25-26)

 

Hassan Daioleslam reaffirmed his belief that Parsi and NIAC lobby for the Iranian regime

Hassan Daioleslam's " Reply to Opp to Motion to Dismiss", granted  by the judge:

The Defendant properly pled and supported his allegation that he believes that his analysis of the Plaintiffs’ position is accurate. See Def. Motion to Dismiss, pp. 19-27; Afft. of Defendant at ¶¶ 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13

Daioleslam's Motion to dismiss

B. All defendandt's Statements Are Substantially True (p.9)

The statements complained of regarding Parsi and NIAC’s lobbying activity are substantially true. Defendant has opined that Plaintiffs are important players in a lobby enterprise, lobbying on behalf of actions which are in line with the wishes and interests of the Iranian government. 10

It is true that the manner in which NIAC, and by extension Plaintiff Parsi as the President of NIAC seeks to have such legislators vote is in accord with the needs, interests and wishes of

the Iranian regime. (p. 10-11)

The Plaintiffs have not met their burden to show that the alleged defamatory statements

are untrue, (p. 13)

 

excerpts from Daioleslam's deposition quoted by Judge Bates in hisdecision

Questioned by Parsi's lawyer:

Q: Do you consider Dr. Parsi to be a political activist?

A. I think so.

Q: Do you consider him to be part of the Iranian regime?

A: I believe that he has worked, he has lobbied in favor of the Iranian regime.

Q: So based upon your prior testimony it would be fair to say that you believe because he is a part of the Iranian regime that you have no obligation to verify the truth of the statement that you make about him?

A: My belief is that of course I would prefer to go to Mr. Parsi and NIAC and ask for help and clarification about what I thought in 2006 when I was working to investigate about them for many questions I had. The thing is that honestly I did not expect the truth from them. Mostly because I thought the first aspect of their work was deception and lie. . . . I mean that mistrust was so that I believed and I still believe for the relation and trust that existed between Mr. Parsi and the inner circle of the Iranian regime.

(Pls.' Opp., Ex. E at 35-36.)



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