FORT MYERS — A federal judge has denied a host of motions in a contentious case in which allegations of copyright violations are mixed with claims of fictitious military service.
Judge Carol Mirando of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled plaintiff Daniel Bernath will be allowed a degree of leeway regarding discovery, but no further personal attacks disguised as motions will be allowed by either party.
In what might be considered a precursor to future rulings on procedural motions, Mirando also ruled that the plaintiff needs to stay within federal guidelines regarding the length of evidentiary motions.
In June 2015, Bernath filed a copyright infringement suit against defendant Mark Cameron Seaway. Bernath later amended his complaint to allege a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Seaway answered the complaint with his own allegations of libel and defamation. The American Legion then interceded and filed a cross-complaint against Bernath.
In the original complaint, Bernath alleged that a blog run by the defendant published photos belonging to him. Bernath also alleged that Seaway is the leader of a terrorist group that tortures veterans and that his blog hosts “child pornography,” according to court documents.
Seaway countered that he is an employee of the American Legion and said that he wrote an article alleging Bernath misstated certain facts regarding his military service.
The parties then traded motions with escalating degrees of personal attacks. Mirando's lack of patience with the case was clear when the parties traded motions regarding discovery:
“This case has been pending for twenty-two months," the judge wrote. "The discovery deadline has expired for summary judgment, and the case is currently set for a trial term beginning on July 3, 2017. The parties’ initial discovery deadline was December 5, 2016 (which the Court subsequently extended to January 31, 2017, due to Plaintiff’s non-compliance with discovery requests. Doc. 112. The Court also has twice extended the trial term. 203. The Court is not willing to open discovery at this late stage of the proceeding.”
Mirando moved the case forward for trial.