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Catazaro Declines NYCB Reinstatement; Ramasar to Rejoin

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15 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

This article in the New York Times makes it clear that at some point in the near future,  somebody needs to rein in Alexandra Waterbury and her cohort of protesters.  Amar Ramasar's very able counsel points out that they are tossing around terms to the public like "sexual assault" without understanding their meaning or impact.

Does this (below) represent a viable legal threat?

Quote

Last Thursday, as protesters chanted, a middle-aged man en route to the show said he did not know what the demonstration was about. One of the protesters told him that a cast member had “sexually assaulted” someone, an overstatement of the sort that Ms. Maxwell said led her to decide to publicly defend Mr. Ramasar. Mr. Gotko, Mr. Ramasar’s lawyer, complained that the protesters were “tossing off words and phrases like they have no meaning whatsoever.”

 

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47 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Does this (below) represent a viable legal threat?

 

What do you mean by the term "legal threat"?  I hope that the parents of the high school girl who has whipped up this protest have explained to her that making false accusations against someone could land her in serious trouble.  At this point she may not even be the main instigator,  but she's the one whose name is in the New York Times.  A cease and desist letter is certainly in order.

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If Waterbury said that Ramasar commited sexual assault then maybe there’s liability there - is that what you’re asking? If the protesters are coming up with that on their own then I’m not sure she would be liable, unless she acknowledged those claims and didn’t correct them.

If the protester simply made up the claim out of thin air then they would probably be subject to liability.

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44 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

What do you mean by the term "legal threat"?  I hope that the parents of the high school girl who has whipped up this protest have explained to her that making false accusations against someone could land her in serious trouble.  At this point she may not even be the main instigator,  but she's the one whose name is in the New York Times.  A cease and desist letter is certainly in order.

Sorry, yes, I should have explained my question better. You described Ramasar's lawyer as being "very able," and in the portion of the article I quoted he is described as "complain[ing]" that the protestors are "tossing off words and phrases like they have no meaning whatsoever." Do those complaints have potential legal force?

You seem to suggest that Waterbury and/or Levy (who I take to be the high school girl you're referencing) are liable for the impact of the words of one or more of the other protestors and that "somebody needs to rein [them] in." (Neither Waterbury nor Levy seems to have been the one who used the term "sexual assault," as cited in the article.) My question was what Ramasar's lawyer can legally do to stop (or seek compensation for) what's happening and specifically whether there's a strong case that Waterbury and/or Levy are indeed legally liable.

Edited by nanushka

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Sorry, yes, I should have explained my question better. You described Ramasar's lawyer as being "very able," and in the portion of the article I quoted he is described as "complain[ing]" that the protestors are "tossing off words and phrases like they have no meaning whatsoever." Do those complaints have potential legal force?

You seem to suggest that Waterbury and/or Levy (who I take to be the high school girl you're referencing) are liable for the impact of the words of one or more of the other protestors and that "somebody needs to rein [them] in." (Neither Waterbury nor Levy seems to have been the one who used the term "sexual assault," as cited in the article.) My question was what Ramasar's lawyer can legally do to stop (or seek compensation for) what's happening and specifically whether there's a strong case that Waterbury and/or Levy are indeed legally liable.

I described Ramasar's lawyer as "very able" because of his excellent answer to Waterbury's lawsuit.  In my opinion,  it was the best by far of the defendant pleadings.

I'm not a lawyer,  but Waterbury and her supporters antics seem to me to fit the definition of slander - the oral communication of false statements that are harmful to a person's reputation.  Any casual observer of the protesters might reasonably conclude,  based on the signs and the slick handouts featuring a glamor shot of Waterbury,  that Ramasar had physically assaulted her.  Their demand that the producers of WSS fire him show clear intent to harm him.  Waterbury's continuing efforts to engage Alexa Maxwell,  after Maxwell has made it clear that her intrusions are unwelcome,  might constitute harassment.  

The producers have made their statement - they are not going to fire Ramasar without cause.  Good thing,  because under their agreement with Actors Equity,  they would have to pay him for the term of his contract whether he performed or not.  It would also be grossly unfair.

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Waterbury did not say he physically assaulted her. The protesters’ inference doesn’t automatically make her liable, and besides Ramasar is a public figure which raises difficulty of him winning a defamation suit against protesters. Maybe there’s a case for harassment. More likely this will be used by Ramasar’s lawyer to impeach any of her testimony. Maybe there’ll be some sort of countersuit as a defensive tactic but I really doubt from what I’ve seen that he could win a defamation suit at trial.

(am attorney)

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39 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

I'm not a lawyer,  but Waterbury and her supporters antics seem to me to fit the definition of slander - the oral communication of false statements that are harmful to a person's reputation.  Any casual observer of the protesters might reasonably conclude,  based on the signs and the slick handouts featuring a glamor shot of Waterbury,  that Ramasar had physically assaulted her.

I think this (bolded) is the part I have doubts about. I would have thought that the legal standard for slander/defamation was considerably higher than that, even if he weren't (as @Leah points out) a public figure.

Edited by nanushka

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45 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I think this (bolded) is the part I have doubts about. I would have thought that the legal standard for slander/defamation was considerably higher than that, even if he weren't (as @Leah points out) a public figure.

It is. Because of the first amendment proving slander is incredibly difficult as you have to prove a high level of intent. Even if protesters were led to believe that Amar committed sexual assault you do have to prove that Waterbury specifically phrased her wording to mislead or perhaps that there was severe recklessness on her part - although I’m not entirely sure on that second part.

Maybe there is a tort in Waterbury’s conduct, I just don’t think it’s defamation.

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3 hours ago, Leah said:

If Waterbury said that Ramasar commited sexual assault then maybe there’s liability there - is that what you’re asking? If the protesters are coming up with that on their own then I’m not sure she would be liable, unless she acknowledged those claims and didn’t correct them.

If the protester simply made up the claim out of thin air then they would probably be subject to liability.

In her Instagram rant,  Waterbury writes "He sexually assaulted you,  whether you forgive him or not".   She doesn't include names,  but it's evident by the context that she is referring to Alexa Maxwell and Amar Ramasar.   She also claims that Ramasar threatened her,  which is new as far as I know.  She apparently believes that she can be outraged on Maxwell's behalf and is furious that Maxwell is still with Ramasar.  She also spews invective at producer Scott Rudin for not firing Ramasar.  As a veteran Broadway producer,  Rudin has a thick skin,  but he's not known for being soft and cuddly.   He might sic his legal attack dogs on her if she continues to include him in her unsupported rants.

Is Amar Ramasar actually a public figure just because he performs on stage?  I thought that public figures have to actually be famous people.  I'd be willing to bet that the average New Yorker has no idea who he is.

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17 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

In her Instagram rant,  Waterbury writes "He sexually assaulted you,  whether you forgive him or not".   She doesn't include names,  but it's evident by the context that she is referring to Alexa Maxwell and Amar Ramasar.   She also claims that Ramasar threatened her,  which is new as far as I know.  She apparently believes that she can be outraged on Maxwell's behalf and is furious that Maxwell is still with Ramasar.  She also spews invective at producer Scott Rudin for not firing Ramasar.  As a veteran Broadway producer,  Rudin has a thick skin,  but he's not known for being soft and cuddly.   He might sic his legal attack dogs on her if she continues to include him in her unsupported rants.

Is Amar Ramasar actually a public figure just because he performs on stage?  I thought that public figures have to actually be famous people.  I'd be willing to bet that the average New Yorker has no idea who he is.

Okay, that comment which I did not see changes things. Waterbury could still potentially argue that she was not using a legal definition but rather really believed that what he did morally constituted sexual assault (I’m brainstorming). Given her impassioned nature I’m still not sure that there’s a good case. She’s also talking to Maxwell, ostensibly at least, so it could sound like she is just making the argument that she believes it is sexual assault.

But wow, that’s certainly an irresponsible statement. Where the hell is her lawyer??

You don’t have to be extremely famous to the public at large to be a public figure. Ramasar is certainly well known in the arts world and has been the subject of many media reports. The situation is very well-known.

ETA: you can be a public figure for a particular limited situation. So if you’re prosecuted for murder and it’s well-publicized and people start saying you’re guilty, even if you’re acquitted, you still wouldn’t have a case. You would have to prove actual malice.

Edited by Leah

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First random thought: My lawyer once told me that, "anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time." Here in the USA, I've found that to be true.

Two: Waterbury is using RAINN's definition of sexual assault which includes nonconsensual online sharing of sexually explicit images. Sometimes it's called digital sexual assault, revenge porn, cyber assault, etc. I don't think all of the protesters understand the distinction. It's certainly unclear to many who comment on Waterbury's feed. If Ramasar didn't pass on her images to anyone (which he claims he didn't and she does not believe) then he hasn't committed digital sexual assault against Waterbury. When Waterbury says "he sexually assaulted you" she must mean that Ramasar committed digital assault against Alexa Maxwell. [gotta say digital sexual assault is an unfortunate term. Kind of sounds like finger rape]

Three: In New York City, and throughout the United States, we have a right to peacefully protest on any public sidewalk. We do not have the right to block entrances or exits, or disrupt traffic. We do not have the right to use amplification. Waterbury and WSS Protest can legally protest as long as they like.

I don't know about defamation or slander, but Waterbury is repeatedly calling him a sexual predator. My sympathy for her is fading mostly because I don't see any evidence that he is a predator based on ANY definition of that word. 

Four: NY has a revenge porn law on the books, but it requires malicious intent. The person sending the images must be shown to have an intent to harm the person(s) in the photos. This law doesn't say anything about requiring consent. Nothing requiring consent to take the photo (at least not in the revenge porn law, privacy laws probably include consent) and nothing about consent to share the photos. I don't see how Waterbury's case against Ramasar, or NYCB for that matter, will hold up in court. No doubt that's why she's making a big push tonight at WSS's opening.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/07/revenge-porn-law-new-york.html

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Thanks BalanchineFan.

Anyone can file a lawsuit, whether or not anyone’s claims will survive a motion to dismiss is another thing. 

I think men who trade explicit non consensual photos of much younger women can be called predators. Not using it as a legal term.

 I was unaware of the RAINN definition, thanks for sharing that information.

Lastly, the revenge porn law is a criminal statute. Waterbury has filed a civil cause of action. I agree that the case against Ramasar is not the strongest but it’s a civil tort claim (on a negligence theory if I recall correctly, no intent to harm requirement.)

Edited by Leah

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What would be the grounds for Ramassar's attempting to abrogate the protesters' first amendment rights of  free speech and the right to assemble?  The protesters' words have not caused him to lose employment.   Subjectively, the protesters' words could be considered to be in bad taste, but there are a lot of things stated that are abhorrent that are not unlawful conduct or  speech. 

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57 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

 

Two: Waterbury is using RAINN's definition of sexual assault which includes nonconsensual online sharing of sexually explicit images. Sometimes it's called digital sexual assault, revenge porn, cyber assault, etc. I don't think all of the protesters understand the distinction. It's certainly unclear to many who comment on Waterbury's feed. If Ramasar didn't pass on her images to anyone (which he claims he didn't and she does not believe) then he hasn't committed digital sexual assault against Waterbury. When Waterbury says "he sexually assaulted you" she must mean that Ramasar committed digital assault against Alexa Maxwell. [gotta say digital sexual assault is an unfortunate term. Kind of sounds like finger rape]

Three: In New York City, and throughout the United States, we have a right to peacefully protest on any public sidewalk. We do not have the right to block entrances or exits, or disrupt traffic. We do not have the right to use amplification. Waterbury and WSS Protest can legally protest as long as they like.

I don't know about defamation or slander, but Waterbury is repeatedly calling him a sexual predator. My sympathy for her is fading mostly because I don't see any evidence that he is a predator based on ANY definition of that word. 

 

RAINN's definition does not have the force of law.  At any rate,  the images were never online.

While there is a right to peaceful protest,  some of Waterbury's followers are taking it way too far by harassing other members of the WSS cast through their social media.  The producers have had to hire cyberstalking experts to deal with the problem,  and Actors Equity issued a statement urging affected cast members to bring problems to their attention.

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4 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

ome of Waterbury's followers are taking it way too far by harassing other members of the WSS cast through their social media.  The producers have had to hire cyberstalking experts to deal with the problem,  and Actors Equity issued a statement urging affected cast members to bring problems to their attention.

This is appalling behavior, and I think Waterbury should say so.

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I don't think Ramasar has a very good defamation case either. He's likely a limited-purpose public figure for defamation purposes. Unsavory and inappropriate as his actions were, I personally think calling him a sexual predator is highly misleading. But from the NYT article, it seems like the protestors using that word are using it out of ignorance and carelessness (negligence), rather than malice, which is the standard public figures must meet in a defamation suit.

Ramasar might have better luck moving for a gag order in the current case. He could also trying moving for a more limited gag order or protective order enjoining Waterbury from mentioning Maxwell or contacting her.

What happened to Waterbury was abhorrent. But that doesn't mean she should harass people who don't completely agree with her. Her stoking up online trolls like this makes me very nervous. I do feel very sorry for Maxwell.

1 hour ago, Josette said:

What would be the grounds for Ramassar's attempting to abrogate the protesters' first amendment rights of  free speech and the right to assemble?  The protesters' words have not caused him to lose employment.   Subjectively, the protesters' words could be considered to be in bad taste, but there are a lot of things stated that are abhorrent that are not unlawful conduct or  speech. 

I don't think the First Amendment is implicated here. The First Amendment applies to government restrictions, not actions by other individuals.

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13 hours ago, cinnamonswirl said:

I don't think Ramasar has a very good defamation case either. He's likely a limited-purpose public figure for defamation purposes. Unsavory and inappropriate as his actions were, I personally think calling him a sexual predator is highly misleading. But from the NYT article, it seems like the protestors using that word are using it out of ignorance and carelessness (negligence), rather than malice, which is the standard public figures must meet in a defamation suit.

 

I wonder if the protesters are ignorant and negligent. According to what I've read, they are claiming that Ramasar "violated women." "Violate" in this context is generally taken to mean "rape" and this will be particularly true for casual passersby who don't know the details. Hard to believe Waterbury and the protesters aren't aware of this. Whether that improves Ramasar's case for defamation I don't know, but it goes well beyond "misleading."

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I also don't think Ramasar has a case for defamation. Even if he does, the point of a motion to dismiss is to avoid litigation, right? I doubt he would voluntarily put himself through that. With opening night behind him, I don't know how many more headlines the protests can generate. It might just run out of steam on its own.

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Violate is not just an old-timey euphemism for rape. It is very common for it to be used in situations where ones privacy and dignity have been invaded. I would definitely say that Ramasar violated women. The fact that some people may misinterpret that does not mean that it is defamation as it is at the very least an honestly held opinion.

And to be clear, once again: negligence on the part of protesters is not enough to make a defamation case, you need actual malice here as Ramasar is a limited purpose public figure.

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On 2/22/2020 at 12:42 AM, yukionna4869 said:

I also don't think Ramasar has a case for defamation. Even if he does, the point of a motion to dismiss is to avoid litigation, right? I doubt he would voluntarily put himself through that. With opening night behind him, I don't know how many more headlines the protests can generate. It might just run out of steam on its own.

I did see that Alexandra used the word pedophile to describe Amar. I think he may have a strong case against her there.   

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1 hour ago, Fairandlove said:

I did see that Alexandra used the word pedophile to describe Amar. I think he may have a strong case against her there.   

I think that gets closer to reckless disregard that could show actual malice, but I still think it's difficult as she could say it’s her honest opinion and he is a limited purpose public figure. 

But yeesh, she really needs to stop. She could be achieving something meaningful but she doesn’t know how and she will probably be demolished if/when she testifies because of her careless statements.

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2 hours ago, Fairandlove said:

I did see that Alexandra used the word pedophile to describe Amar. I think he may have a strong case against her there.   

That’s definitely troubling. Could you be more specific on where you saw that? I’d like to see exactly what she said. Thanks!

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In her recent Instagram story, which she's saved to her profile (you can still go see it), Waterbury says she realizes that "pedophile" is a controversial term, but after seeing the texts it is clear to her "that's what he's after" (implying Amar, as this comes after a long rant about him, in particular).  She then goes on to say that, in order to be "politically correct," she will now "address Amar as a 'sexual predator who preys on really young people because they are really young.'"  She also typed the phrase I just wrote in quotes onto the story.

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