BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) - Three Bryant City Council members file a lawsuit against anonymous posters on www.mysaline.com. The website founder is now fighting to keep those posters' identities confidential.
The website's founder, Shelli Russell, says it's her duty to protect the privacy of the site's subscribers.
Council members Adrian Henley, Brenda Miller, and Danny Steele claim their reputations are tarnished because of libelous comments on the website. Their attorney tells Today's THV some of the comments were sexual in nature.
The lawsuit claims the online posts were created in actual malice, knowing the comments were not true at the time of posting.
UALR law professor Terri Beiner says since the council members are public figures, actual malice must be proven in court for a successful suit.
"That essentially means the people making the statements had to know of the falsity of the statements when they made them or be reckless in respect to making those statements," says Beiner.
The subpoena requests information on 10 anonymous posters from the website. Even though the site's founder is not included in the lawsuit, she's hired legal advice and continues to fight the releasing of the posters' information.
"You can be anonymous like that and you don't have to be anonymous. You can say it outright too, but when people come on the website and they come on anonymously they have every right to and they have every right to state all of their opinions," says Russell.
According to Beiner, opinion falls under the First Amendment rights. A judge will have to determine if those comments do indeed fall in the opinion category. A court date on the subpoena has not been set.