“Badass Parody”: Michigan Lawyer and Adjunct Professor Sues Student and Loses . . . Then Sues Student’s Lawyer

scales_of_justiceMichigan attorney Todd Levitt is again in court this month. Levitt recently lost a controversial libel lawsuit over a parody Twitter account by a Central Michigan University student that mocked his “badass” approach to legal marketing. The opinion (here) found that the site by was obviously a parody and that Levitt, who teaches at CMU as an adjunct, sued Zachary Felton without cause for his “badass parody.” Now, Levitt is suing his opposing counsel, who also teaches at CMU as an adjunct.

In the lawsuit against the student, the court found:

In this case, defendant’s Twitter account, when considered in context, cannot reasonably be interpreted as anything other than a parody account . . . It is unlikely that a reasonable person would interpret these Tweets to have been created by an attorney seeking to promote his business. It would be quite foolish for an attorney to outright state by way of self-promotion that he wants college students to drink and use illegal drugs so that he can increase his income by defending them in court. . . . Second, when defendant’s Twitter account is considered in context, particularly considering defendant’s multiple disclaimers, the Todd Levitt 2.0 account cannot reasonably be interpreted as anything other than a parody account . . . defendant included a disclaimer on the account’s main page, which stated, “A badass parody of our favorite lawyer most likely seen on Main Street.”

The parody did use Levitt’s name, photo and firm logo, but was ruled an exercise of free speech and clearly not something that would be confused with the real thing.

The latest lawsuit now names The Morning Sun, Digital First Media, two Central Michigan University professors and attorney Gordon Bloem as defendants. Bloem represented Zachary Felton. He said that the allegations hurt his practice and has filed claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, civil conspiracy, intentional interference with business expectancy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking $1 million in damages.

The key articles stated that Levitt created an award called “College Lawyer of the Year” and then awarded it to himself, but later admitted that it was a fake. In the filing, Levitt says that this representation was false and the publication “despicable.”

The case presents an interesting study of how schools should respond when faculty sue students in cases of this kind.

However, the second lawsuit raises what could be a valid defamation claim if this award was not made up by Levitt and awarded to himself. Such an allegation would have damaging consequences in terms of both profession and practice of an attorney. What is clear is that this is not likely to end any time soon.

11 thoughts on ““Badass Parody”: Michigan Lawyer and Adjunct Professor Sues Student and Loses . . . Then Sues Student’s Lawyer”

  1. Randyjet… you say “I love watching lawyers east each other…”

    I confess I’m not a member of Club Uber Cool. Can you send me a PM detailing what it means to “east” a lawyer. My virgin eyes can take it. Notwithstanding this article putting ideas in my head, I swear I won’t sue you taking my vision virginity.

  2. DBQ – that’s hilarious.

    That reminds me of a time when I was on a bus in South America. The only music the driver had was a single tape of “Macarena.” For hours. He must have really, really, really liked that song. It was surreal, driving through the rain forest listening to Macarena. That was before it hit the US. When it came on here I absolutely could not believe it.

  3. Can you say DIGICELL Haiti – allegedly contracts for Digicell in Haiti followed by contributions to the Clinton Foundation? How is it possible that the alleged massive and egregious influence peddling allegedly by Hillary and Bill Clinton is not discussed on the site of America’s preeminent legal mind?

    _________

    “The New Yorker confirms that, as Clinton Cash claims, Bill Clinton made $500,000 for a Moscow speech that was paid for by “a Russian investment bank that had ties to the Kremlin” at the time of the Uranium One deal.

    “Why was Bill Clinton taking any money from a bank linked to the Kremlin while his wife was Secretary of State?” asks the liberal publication.”

    _________

    How is Obama NOT involved in the very matters HIS SECRETARY OF STATE is involved in?

    Nixon’s people jimmied an office door and purloined a file from a cabinet.

    What have Obama and his Secretary of State done?

    Whatever happened to “checks and balances?”

    Can you say “Banana Republic?”

  4. @Nick you can thank the feminists for that. They’re well known for expressing their radical fweelings and have been a major component of shaping up America.

    Then again, I really like this guy for doing a “Badass Parody”. If I found myself being the target of a parody, I’d laugh because I know it’s not me. Then again, the lawyer, Levitt, was on the defensive trying to “maintain” his image and reputation in front of his clients. 😛

    All the buzz on twitter with Levitt making money off of clients and creating a Ponzi scheme… Perhaps the guy, who parodied Levitt, is right. Satire isn’t always false. It can be true as well.

    To be so offended means that the lawyer has lost his masculinity, according to feminist standards. They have won! He’s now a “gwirl”!

  5. @DBQ

    Don’t you mean the, “Pilipinos”??? 🙂 Anyway, this dude deserves an Irish Poem!

    A Little Levitt-y Goes A Long Way???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    There once was a lawyer named Levitt
    And gee whiz, he just didn’t get it!
    It was all done in fun,
    But the suing’s begun,
    Still, I doubt the Defendants should sweat it.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  6. @ Karen.

    Could be worse. When my aunt was stationed in the Philippines with her husband in the Air Force, the song Feelings was very popular. Unfortunately the Filipinos have some difficulty pronouncing the sound “F”. So when they would go out and there was a live band playing the song …….it was Peelings. Nothing more than Peelings. Peelings of Love……

    Ever since she told us that story…..Peelings is all that I can hear.

  7. Nick – great. Now I have “Feelings” stuck in my head.

    Where’s my fainting couch? 🙂

  8. How was the Twitter defendant’s lawyer involved in the defamatory article about him giving himself an award?

  9. We seem to have folks who believe if you are offended, then something should be banned. We saw that contingent in the American Sniper thread. Presumably they will appear here and defend this ambulance chaser as well. F@ck the First Amendment. FEEELINGS are much more important.

  10. I think the other professors have a claim for creating a ‘hostile work environment.’

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