ARNOLD B. BOWKER, JOHN A. JOSLIN and the CARIB INN, a foreign corporation,
AMERICA ONLINE, INC., a foreign corporation doing business in Illinois,
Return Date: September 26, 1995
NO. 95L 013509
VERIFIED PETITION FOR DISCOVERY
Petitioners, ARNOLD B. BOWKER ("Bowker"), JOHN A. JOSLIN ("Joslin"), and
the CARIB INN (collectively, "Petitioners"), through their attorneys,
Levin & Funkhouser, Ltd., pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224,
and for their Verified Petition For Discovery (the "Petition") to
Respondent, AMERICA ONLINE, INC., a foreign corporation doing business
in Illinois ("AOL"), state as follows:
1. This is an action for discovery before suit to identify responsible
persons and entities. The Petitioners intend to file a suit, sounding
in defamation and false light invasion of privacy, against the persons
and/or entities responsible for the origination and dissemination of
statements through the use of AOL's subscriber services, electronic
bulletin boards and electronic mail, which statements falsely impute
negligent or criminal actions and other misconduct to the Petitioners.
PARTIES, JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2. Petitioners Bowker and Joslin are United States citizens and current
residents of Bonaire, Netherlands-Antilles. Bowker operates the Carib
Inn, a tropical resort and scuba diving facility (the "Inn") located in
Bonaire. Joslin is a scuba diving instructor for the Inn.
3. The Inn attracts hundreds of guests and divers from the Midwest
because of its superb reputation for scuba diving and hospitality, by
maintaining a good relationship with Illinois scuba diving shops,
placing advertisements in nationally distributed scuba diving and resort
magazines, and through the posting of messages by the Inn and its
patrons on various electronic bulletin boards on the Internet. The Inn
also has a three-page advertisement placed on the Internet through the
World Wide Web. Approximately 6-10% of the Inn's guests and divers over
the past year originated from the state of Illinois.
4. On information and belief, AOL is a Delaware corporation doing
business in Illinois. On information and belief, AOL sells
subscriptions and/or memberships to computer users who shop and interact
with other computer users, including residents of Illinois, through
AOL's electronic bulletin boards on the Internet.
5. On information and belief, AOL maintains a membership list and can
otherwise identify current and past subscribers who utilized its
services to post individual messages on its bulletin boards. In
addition, on infon-nation and belief, AOL maintains payment records for
its subscribers and members to further identify those who have used its
6. Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule
224(a)(ii) as this is a Court in which the action or proceeding might be
brought, as well as a county in which the Respondent from whom discovery
is sought transacts business.
7. On or about June 3, 1995, an unknown subscriber or member of AOL (or
someone utilizing that person's subscription or membership) posted at
least one defamatory and libelous statement on AOL's electronic bulletin
board devoted to scuba diving, accusing Petitioners of various unsafe
business practices and commission of a crime. (A copy of the original
posting is attached hereto as Exhibit A.) The AOL subscriber's charges
of misconduct and unsafe business practices, were false, malicious and
made with the intent to injure Petitioners' reputations and rights of
privacy, including among other things, the loss of business
opportunities and emotional distress.
8. On July 30, 1995, Bowker and Joslin became aware of the libelous
statements through correspondence from a frequent patron of the Inn who
had read the message that had been posted on AOL's bulletin board. On
several occasions, Bowker has corresponded with the party(s) who
allegedly posted the original message in order to secure a retraction
and to refute the false and libelous allegations. To date, however,
Petitioners have been unable to ascertain the identity of the AOL
subscriber(s) or member(s) who transmitted the original and subsequent
messages in order to halt such activities and sue for damages.
9. The messages posted on AOL's scuba diving bulletin board are
accessible from every state in the United States, and the defwnatory
message has been accessed in Illinois. It is unknown at this time, how
many citizens of this State have read the posted material or
corresponded through electronic mail with the unknown subscfiber(s) or
member(s) of AOL and decided not to come to the Inn because of the
malicious and false accusations that were made.
10. Petitioners seek discovery from AOL, requesting AOL to produce
complete copies or printouts of computer screens and other documents
revealing subscriber information, applications for membership and
payment records which could enable Petitioners to identify and locate
those individuals and/or entities responsible for the posting of the
defamatory material and other messages on AOL's bulletin boards or in
WHEREFORE, Petitioners, Arnold B. Bowker, John A. Joslin, and the Carib
Inn, pray that this Court enter an order compelling the discovery
requested herein from Respondent, America Online, Inc.
ARNOLD B. BOWKER, JOHN A. JOSLIN, and
the CARIB INN, Petitioners
Lawrence R. Levin, Esq.
Daniel T. Graham, Esq.
James F. Groth, Esq.
LEVIN & FUNKHOUSER, LTD.
Xerox Centre - Suite 241 0
55 West Monroe Street
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Finn ID #1 1961
Attorneys for Petitioners, Arnold B. Bowker,
John A. Joslin, and the Carib Inn
VERIFICATION BY CERTIFICATION
Under penalties as provided by law pursuant to Section 5/1-109 of the
Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS_5/1-109), the undersigned
certifies that I have read the foregoing Verified Petition For Discovery
and that the statements set forth therein are true and correct, except
as to matters therein stated to be on information and belief, and as to
such matters the undersigned certifies as aforesaid that he verily
believes the same to be true.
Dated: September 12, 1995
From: Jenny TRR
My husband and I visited the Carib Inn last month. Since I'm a little
new at diving needless to say diving with a stoned instructor was a
little scarry. We left after three days and went to Sand Dollar. I won't
mention his name but he's the only white instructor there. Sand Dollar
was super nice.
7-30-1995 America online:LCRawls Page I
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