In the Battle Over a Lower Greenville Walmart, Avi Adelman's Bark is As Annoying as Ever

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Shortly after being sued last September by a neighbor for registering melissakingston.com and using it to email anti-Walmart screeds, inveterate Lower Greenville shit-stirrer Avi Adelman did something rather unprecedented: he agreed to cut it out. The temporary injunction he signed barred him from sending emails from the domain, redirecting traffic to the web address to barkingdogs.org and stepping within a block of Melissa Kingston's house.

But Adelman has doubled down since the lawsuit was filed, making Kingston-bashing a full-time project rather than merely a part-time hobby. The question is, has he gone too far? Melissa Kingston answered with a resounding yes in a court filing last week, in which she asks the judge to go ahead and rule in her favor.

Adelman has "caused me to suffered (sic) severe anxiety and worry about my personal safety of my family, pets and home," she says in an affidavit. "As a result of this anxiety and fear, I changed my habits and routine."

Kingston says she no longer feels safe walking around the neighborhood to visit friends who live on Adelman's street or to go to restaurants on Lower Greenville. The stress keeps her up at night and has prompted severe migraines. "I still experience a high degree of distress and anger when I see and/or have to deal with Defendant, and I can feel my blood pressure rise at those times."

Now, there's nothing criminal about annoying one's neighbor, but Kingston claims that her name is a common law trademark and that Adelman's use of melissakingston.com has caused financial and emotional damage and is a violation of her rights under state copyright law.

That a woman who says she beat the crap out of an armed car jacker is physically afraid of a portly 57-year-old seems odd. Regardless, Kingston does her best to prove her claims and illustrate why she might feel targeted.

Included in Tuesday's filing is a deposition Adelman gave to Kingston's attorney back in January. It's long, occasionally boring and is guaranteed to tell you way more about Avi Adelman than you ever cared to know. His middle name is Steven. He once waited tables at Dixie House. He spent a couple of years on a kibbutz in Israel.

More germane to Kingston's case are a pair of assault cases against Adelman, both of which were dropped when the accusers failed to show up in court. The first happened in about 2000 when he pepper sprayed a drunk during a confrontation on Euclid Avenue. The second was in 2009, when Adelman got into an argument with a woman mad that he was filming her friend being taken away by ambulance. He maintains that no physical contact occurred, though he did pull out his pepper spray.

Adelman's history of macing people established, Kingston's attorney, Ryan Lurich, sets about trying to show that Adelman's online activities crossed the line between run-of-the-mill Internet trolling and tactics that are defamatory, even extortionary.

Adelman owns quite a few domain names, 100 to 150 by his count, though he's not exactly sure. Some of these are for websites he helps run, like palmerfireworks.com and abotc.com. Others, like areyouoffyourfriggingmeds.com, he bought as a lark.

But Lurich isn't terribly interested in those. He's more curious about mayorrawlings.com, which Adelman, a Kunkel supporter, bought just after Mike Rawlings was elected. The website features a rolodex and a note offering the domain for $5,000 OBO. Adelman, pressed by Lurich, explains that he's not 100 percent sure he'd sell but would consider an offer if he received one.

Then there are the various riffs on the campaign of Kingston's husband, Philip, to replace Angela Hunt: Kingstonforcouncil.com, .org, and .net; electkingston.com; votekingston.com; kingstonfordallas.com. Lurich and Adelman have this exchange on the subject:

Lurich: Okay. Do you support Mr. Kingston's -- Kingston's candidacy for City Council?

Adelman: No.

L: So why did you purchase those domain names?

A: Because they were available and I wanted to have them handy for pointing to my website.

L: For what purpose?

A: To -- in this case they point to the page on my website where the legal documents are for this case.

L: Okay. But for what purpose do you need to point them to your website. I mean, why were -- why did you want to do that?

A: I believe that people involved -- people making decisions about elections, who go to the Internet and search him, could find those pages and understand what is going on here in this case.

The same thinking led him to buy melissakingston.com, which Adelman says is definitely not for sale. "It was available ... I just tend to search for names of interest, and with everything going on in the neighborhood, that peaked my interest."

And Melissa Kingston is definitely not Adelman's name. To clear up any confusion, Lurich grills him on the subject.

L: You've watched enough --

A: I've watched enough CSI.

L: -- Law & Orders --

A: No, actually I don't like that show that much.

L: Okay. The CSIs

A: Yes.

L: Okay, Melissa Kingston is not your legal name and neither --

A: No.

L: -- and neither the words "Melissa" nor Kingston" appear in your legal name.

A: No they do not.

Adelman insists that this is all protected by the First Amendment. Then he goes one step further, claiming that Kingston's lawsuit is an illegal attempt to stifle his free speech.

If that was the aim, it didn't work. Since the lawsuit began, Adelman has penned bizarre allegories in which talking horses liken the Kingstons to Nazis and crudely photoshopped Philip Kingston's face on Angela Hunt's body and, more disturbingly, onto a Christ child cradled by Hunt.

Lurich points this out in the deposition in some genuinely entertaining exchanges. Like this one:

L: And this is also something you've created?

A: Yes.
...
L: Okay. And where did you get the likenesses that you imposed onto this picture?

A: The photograph of Ms. Hunt is from her blog where she announced the birth of child number two. I don't remember if it's a boy or a girl. The background is from a painting, and the baby's head is Philip's head from that photograph four or five exhibits back.
...
L: And just for the -- to be clear, the -- Is this a Latin inscription at the top of the picture?

A: Yes.

L: And it's what's translated at the bottom, 'I have chosen a successor, I give you my son'?

A. Yes sir

And this one:

L: What is that?

A: It's a - it's an editorial sarcastic cartoon.

L: Okay. And what does "PWNED" mean?

A: What it means is -- the P is supposed to be an O. It's based on a typo in geekdom. Means own, taken over, sold to, whatever you want to call it. Basically under that -- whatever that is related to. Somebody's got that person owned. "Powned is how it's pronounced, I believe."

L: Okay.

A: I have teenagers. I can't pronounce this stuff.

L: Is this like a shorthand for texting?

A. It's --there's an urban legend that this was a typo that just got carried out too far, like LOL and LF -- they're lauging my what off and all that. I don't know the complete story.

L: All right. And so you're -- the commentary, the message that you're trying to convey, is that Walmart owns Philip Kingston?

And especially this one:

Q: And -- and you posted the entry, "It's Whack-a-Troll Time"?

A: Yes. I wrote that --

Q: You're the author?

A: Yes, sir.
...
L: All right. And who is the "Blonde in a Bottle Lawyer Troll"?

A: That's you, sir.

L: All right. And so by that I take it you think I dye my hair?

A: It's sarcasm, sir. I don't know if you do or not.

L: Okay. And do you think some people might find that to be defamatory?

A: Some -- you can find somebody that would say anything. I have no idea.

Since Adelman was prevented from doing none of that, Lurich asks the question: How again has Kingston stifled his free speech? Adelman says there was a voluntary settlement offer, which he rejected, that would have placed strict conditions on what he could write about. "As it was written, I believe it would have been -- it would have been a serious abridgment of my rights, the freedom of the press, freedom of association, et cetera."

All of this will no doubt come up on May 31, when District Judge Carlos Cortez is scheduled to preside over a hearing on Kingston's motion for summary judgment.


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41 comments
TexMarine
TexMarine

The REAL outrage here is Wal-Marts produce.  Avi was right...ish. Viva Fiesta!!

Daniel
Daniel

I may not agree with what Avi has to say, but I'll die for his righ .... wait, can somebody please find a better example of free speech for me to die defending? (Theoretically. In practice, I will make a brief toast and drink five beers.)

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

What does Wal-Mart have to do with this story?  This conflict seems to be a personal issue.  Do the Kingston's own the land that will house a Wal-Mart?  The author might start with a synopsis that gives us a clue about why this is something more than 2 people that dislike each other.

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Say what you will about Adelman-- at least he cares about his neighborhood, takes action to defend it, and is honest about his intent.

Kingston seems like a lying Dallas attention whore with a high opinion of herself. Like she's some kind of southern belle living on a plantation. 


And if she is reading: The above is my opinion. So eat my ass if you don't like it. 

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

Sucks that Cortez is overhearing this one.  Her claims are bullshit.  She is not the only one in the world named Melissa Kingston.  Therefore, she is not the only one with a "possessory right" to the domain name. Besides it is the domain registration company that had and sold the possessory right.  The domain registration company consented, therefore not Theft Liability Act claim.

 Also, she does not do business as Melissa Kingston.  She is the member of a firm named Friedman and Fieger, LLP.  So she does not have a "distinctive mark." 

tb00
tb00

Regardless of anything else in this post, I think it's very odd that Avi's cellphone number and social security number weren't redacted.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

She makes a living harassing people and making people miserable, then has the gall to kvetch and whine about some crank ruining her life?

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Is there any way both sides could lose?

That's my preferred outcome. Although I would like to see the video of those depositions. I;m sure they would be much better than the transcripts.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

It's tough when you think both sides of an issue are thick-headed and obstinate.  I don't buy into one iota of what Kingston is claiming.  She's supposed to be some hotshot lawyer, but Avi has her 'stressed' and worrying about her safety?  As for Adelman, sure, Kingston wanted him to shut up, but he doesn't have a first amendment claim.  It was an offer for a settlement, not asking for a verdict.  Avi had the choice to accept the settlement or not.  He chose not to.  No abridgement of First Amendment rights.

unclescrappy
unclescrappy

Sometimes you must support those that you do not like the conduct of. I support Avi Adelman because people like the Kinkgstons are trying to muzzle him and his First Amendment right. Just because you dont like what is said, doesnt a lawsuit make. And when you hold yourself out to Public Endavours like the Kingston do (Running for City Council, Being on a Conservation District Board etc) then you are wide open for Political Satire, Ridicule & everything else. Might be different if you were just a quiet neighbor living next door.

For a good example of how Avi is probably going to win, look at the lawsuit of TAUBMAN vs WEBFEATS http://www.dmlp.org/threats/taubman-co-v-webfeats-lawsuit They tried to claim a whole bunch of nonsense when someone registered a Domain Name they decided they wanted after the fact. And this person put up GOOD STUFF about them. Bottom Line is Free Speech has a very High Hurdle to overcome. Why do you think it is the very FIRST amendment to the constitution.


cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Weird.. the headline says Walmart but all I see is an article about a smug lawyer

heart_and_soul
heart_and_soul

I don't care what he says and long as he says it using his own name. He should not send out his views under a name that is not his own. He is getting what he has coming. IMO. The guy is a dirtbag with a short guy complex. Eric flattered him by calling him portly he is actually and fat dwarf.  BTW, He is a very mean person too. He scares the hell out of me. My guess is he was try to shakedown Walmart and was using Kingston's name to do it. That is his MO. I am glad he is getting his ass kicked in court.




bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@MikeWestEast Kingston was representing the neighborhood associations near the Wal-Mart on lower greenville.  Avi wanted to have input on discussions with Wal-Mart concerning lighting.  Avi also lives directly across from the Wal-Mart.  Kingston had meetings with Wal-Mart and didn't let Avi know, even though he asked to be there.  Avi responded by being a smart ass and sending emails regarding Wal-Mart. 

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@cantkeepthetruthdown 

I think you are correct about Kingston (just my opinion), which is the reason why she should lose.  Her reputation hasn't been damaged by Avi's antics.

Avi also cares about having a bully pulpit (and maybe using that for his own gain.  Heard about it, haven't seen it though).

Icareenoughto
Icareenoughto

@bealotcoolerifyoudid

As a member of the neighborhood and an attorney, I’ve followed this blog and the dispute for a while now. I have the utmost respect for Judge Cortez. He is incredibly impartial and fair handed. To imply otherwise sheds Judge Cortez in a false light. When I read these blog posts and comments after Mr. Adelman apparently lost a hearing (something that happens all the time in litigation), I was disheartened about the Blog’s portrayal of Judge Cortez.  People following this should know that the Dallas Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Cortez and upheld his ruling.  http://www.search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=05-13-00439-CV   Unless Mr. Adelman and Gwinn now want to claim that the entire Dallas Court of Appeals is part of some imagined conspiracy, which is hilarious, then the comments about Judge Cortez should be retracted and a formal apology should be issued. Since its extremely doubtful that any formal apology is forthcoming, I’d like to stand up and let the readers of this blog know that Judge Cortez is one of the good guys and all of Dallas County is lucky that we have him presiding over our civil cases.

unclescrappy
unclescrappy

@Montemalone If Avi wins, he still has lost all the time, aggrivation & money associated with this whole nonsense. So in essence they will both lose in the end. The only winners in any lawsuit is the Lawyers who are getting paid.

unclescrappy
unclescrappy

@RTGolden1 First Amendment comes from her trying to get injuctive relief. What she wanted was PRIOR RESTRAINT of him and what he chooses to publish. He should win and be allowed to keep the domain names & she should just learn to be more pro-active within the internet world as Avi has demonstrated. 

Also the E-Mails he sent were labeled AvI@melissakingston.com so he wasnt trying to impersonate her except in her stupid mind.

Daniel
Daniel

@heart_and_soul I agree. What kind of a weasel would promulgate an opinion not using his own name? Avi Adelman may consider it a joke, but citizens like you, Hart N. Sole and I, Daniel D. Daniels, recoil at his cowardice.  

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@Icareenoughto @bealotcoolerifyoudid I agree with your assessment of Cortez.  I just think he gets a kick out of watching lawyers gamesmenship and let's face it Avi's lawyer is outgunned in this department.  So this will drag on a bit.  That's all I meant by my comment. 

I echo your comment that he is fair and impartial.  If my comment was taken otherwise, then I do apologize for not being clear and casting doubt on an honorable man.

And I don't think Cortez had any choice but to deny Avi's Motion to Dismiss when Avi 1) wanted extensive discovery and 2) didn't have the hearing until months after the suit was filed, both of which fly in the face of the intent of the anti-SLAPP legislation.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@unclescrappy @Montemalone Kingston is probably doing all the writing and having another lawyer at her firm sign off.  He still has to do depositions and hearings, but I bet he only gets paid if Kingston wins.

So really no winners.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@unclescrappy @RTGolden1 Here's what I don't get, and I'm not a lawyer, so someone clue me in please.  The restrictions on his Free speech were part of a settlement offering.  In essence, Kingston was making an offer that if Avi would curtail his hijinks, she would do 'x' in return.  She gave Avi a choice, not an ultimatum.  Now, I don't remember what the choice was, and frankly I don't give one little Whitt about the whole affair, perhaps it was an extortionist choice.  The fact remains, Avi had a choice of whether or not to give up a bit of his First amendment freedom, and correctly chose not to (might be the first correct action he's ever taken).  I just can't see how she can be perceived as violating his First Amendment rights.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@unclescrappy @RTGolden1 gotta say scrappy, if I get an email from @chase.com or @whatever.com, I assume that whoever sent it, sent it on behalf of the @whatever.com.  so while he did put avi, its still a intentional misrepresntation of who he was

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown @RTGolden1 @unclescrappy He was facing the 'baseless' lawsuit anyway, the choice offered him a way out of it.  I mean we're all adults here right? Life is a series of choice between consequences, isn't it?  It might be ethically wrong or morally wrong for her to use such tactics, but she's a lawyer, what else would you, Avi or anyone else expect her to do?

casiepierce
casiepierce

@ScottsMerkin @unclescrappy @RTGolden1 Meh, I get plenty of spam emails pretty regularly from @irs, or@wellsfargo or @whatever. It's pretty easy to tell what's legit and what's not by actually reading the content of the email.  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@unclescrappy hey scrappy, read mother fucker, this has already been said.  If you go through life without making one assumption you must be one busy mother fucker looking shit up to verify before you trust it

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