October 5, 2010 — SAN JOSE, CA — Attorney Timothy McMahon, of the personal injury law firm Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, has been named by Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) as one of ten state wide finalists for the coveted ‘2010 Street Fighter of the Year’ award.
McMahon is honored as a finalist by CAOC for prosecuting and successfully resolving one of the first significant cases in California involving ‘cyberbullying’ on the Internet. “Given that October marks National Bullying Prevention Month the honor is an acknowledgement that cyberbullying is becoming a major problem and leading to unintended consequences,” said Timothy McMahon.
The case involved a group of high school students who created a fictitious female profile on MySpace to develop a ‘relationship’ with McMahon’s client and then videotaped an elaborate hoax to purposefully embarrass the young teenager on his first ‘date’. The video was placed on YouTube and was eventually seen by tens of thousands of people all over the world. The teenage perpetrators explicitly stated on YouTube that their goal was to ruin the victim’s life and the video ended with the derogatory homophobic slur ‘F*G’ splashed across the screen.
When first confronted with their actions, the teenagers initially tried to blame the prank on one of their friends who had recently killed himself and three others while driving drunk and racing down a residential street. Further, when the family of the victim tried to have the video permanently removed from YouTube, ‘bottle-bombs’ were thrown at their front door and the family started receiving vicious threats by phone, email and the fictitious My Space account with statements like ‘KILL, KILL, Kill’ and ‘I hope you F…ing sue us’.
The effects of the prank and threats were devastating to the victim. He had been an A-student throughout high school and was enrolled as a freshman in college when the video reached YouTube. The victim became depressed, withdrawn and his grades soon deteriorated to the point where he was ruled academically ineligible by the university and he was asked to withdraw.
Cyberbullying has become a growing problem on the Internet as it is increasingly being used to purposefully destroy young lives under the guise of an ‘innocent prank’. The tragic victims of cyberbullying this year include 13-year-old Asher Brown from suburban Houston; Seth Walsh, 13, when hanged himself from a tree in his Bakersfield, California backyard; Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Massachusetts high school student who reportedly killed herself after six classmates harassed her with sexually offensive insults at school and online; and most recently Tyler Clementi,18-year-old Rutgers freshman who jumped to his death days after his roommate allegedly streamed video online of him with another man in his dorm room.
In seeking justice for the young teenager being defamed, harassed and humiliated on the Internet, McMahon faced numerous hurdles, including multiple insurance companies and their teams of lawyers, as well as the continuing actions of the defendants who resorted to threats of violence against the victim and his family when the prank was uncovered. The initial prosecution of the case by the victim caused the defendants to become so contentious that civil restraining orders were filed and obtained. The case was made even more difficult when the defendants attorneys jointly threatened to assert the privilege against self incrimination in order to thwart the facts from being uncovered.
After nearly a year of litigation, the parents’ insurance carriers and the teenage perpetrators agreed to accept responsibility and settle the case to avoid trial. “This sends a warning shot to anyone who thinks they can use the Internet to humiliate or embarrass another person without serious consequence,” said McMahon. “As a member of CAOC I believe that one of our most important missions as trial attorneys is to use the law to protect our children from harm,” added McMahon.
The Street Fighter of the Year Award will be presented at the Annual CAOC Installation and Awards Dinner on November 20th, 2010, at The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California.
Contact: Tim McMahon at 408-289-1417 or by email: [email protected]
PR courtesy of Online PR News: http://www.onlineprnews.com