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Paul J. Sulla, Jr.; and Paul v. Leonard G. Horowitz; and Sherri Kane

October 4, 2012

PAUL J. SULLA, JR.; AND PAUL
J. SULLA, III,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LEONARD G. HOROWITZ; AND SHERRI KANE, DEFENDANTS.
LEONARD G. HOROWITZ; AND SHERRI KANE, COUNTERCLAIM-PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PAUL J. SULLA, JR.; AND PAUL J. SULLA, III,
COUNTERCLAIM-DEFENDANTS AND HERBERT M RITKE, AN INDIVIDUAL; RON RITKE, AN INDIVIDUAL; JASON HESTER, AN INDIVIDUAL; JASON HERSTER, OVERSEER THE OFFICE OF OVERSEER, A "CORPORATE SOLE" AND HIS SUCCESSORS, OVER/FOR ) THE POPULAR ASSEMBLY OF REVITALIZE, A GOSPEL OF ) BELIEVERS, A CORPORATION; JOHN S. CARROLL; REED HAYES; ISLAND TITLE CO; STEWART TITLE GUARANTY, CO.; GARY DUBIN; DUBIN LAW OFFICES; BENJAMIN BROWER; JANET S. HUNT; COUNTY OF HAWAII; STATE OF HAWAII; AND GOOGLE INC. ADDITIONAL DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Oki Mollway Chief United States District Judge

ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT

I. INTRODUCTION.

On July 20, 2012, Paul J. Sulla, Jr., and Paul J. Sulla, III, "residents" of Hawaii, filed a Complaint in state court. See ECF No. 1-1. The Complaint named as Defendants Hawaii "residents" Leonard G. Horowitz and Sherri Kane. Id. The Complaint alleges that Sulla, Jr., is an attorney who represented a party that foreclosed on property owned by Horowitz's nonprofit corporation, Bloodline of David. Id. ¶ 10. The Complaint alleges that Defendants thereafter began publishing defamatory statements over the internet, including through a website located at www.paulsullafraud.com. Id. ¶¶ 10, 12. The website allegedly falsely states that Sulla, Jr., is engaging in fraud, organized crime, securities schemes, racketeering, arms sales, money laundering, embezzlement, and CIA cult experiments, and that he pads bills, steals money, and has been "busted." Id. ¶ 13-38. The Complaint asserts two state-law claims based on defamation and defamation per se. Id. ¶¶ 46-55.

On August 8, 2012, Horowitz and Kane removed the state-court case to this court. See ECF No. 1. They filed a counterclaim and additional claims on September 7, 2012. See ECF No. 12.

On September 24, 2012, this court issued an order to show cause why this action should not be immediately remanded to state court. See ECF No. 30.

On September 27 and October 2, 2012, Horowitz and Kane responded to the order to show cause. See ECF Nos. 34 and 35.

Because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court remands the improperly removed Complaint to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit, State of Hawaii.

II. ANALYSIS.

This court, noting that all parties might be citizens of Hawaii, expressed concern that it might lack diversity jurisdiction supporting the state-law claims asserted in the Complaint. The court therefore issued the September 24, 2012, order to show cause why this action should not be remanded. See ECF No. 30.

The responses to the order to show cause did not challenge the lack of diversity jurisdiction, but instead asserted federal question jurisdiction. See ECF Nos. 34 and 35. Defendants argue that, because the allegedly defamatory statements were published via the internet, this court has exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1) and § 230(e)(3). This court disagrees.

In relevant part, § 230 states:

(c) Protection for "good samaritan" blocking and screening of offensive material

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker No provider or user of an interactive computer service[*fn1 ] shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by ...


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