Judge Throws Out $105 Million Lawsuit Filed by 'Unpaid' Bloggers Against HuffPo: Why?

on March 31 2012 10:51 AM

A U.S. judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Huffington Post bloggers who claim that the acquisition by AOL entitled them to compensation. The judge says that the bloggers agreed to the deal at the outset.

The lawsuit claim was $105 million. The sale of the Huffington Post to AOL was valued at $315 million.

The five bloggers are Jonathan Tasini, Molly Secours, Tara Dublin, Richard Laermer and Billy Altman. They sued The Huffington Post last year, describing themselves as slaves.

The claim was refuted by the judge, John G. Koeltl, though. He said that The Huffington Post was clear about not paying the bloggers, in exchange for exposure.

Quite simply, the plaintiffs offered a service and the defendants offered exposure in return, and the transaction occurred exactly as advertised. No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to the Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs candidly admit that they did not expect compensation, he wrote.

The bloggers were apparently OK with the arrangement until HuffPo was purchased by AOL for for $315 million in 2011, PCMag reports. The judge reiterated that The Huffington Post did not have to compensate the bloggers. They argued their contributions had made the acquisition attractive.

Tasini claimed he made 216 contributions to the blog over the five years he wrote for The Huffington Post. However, the judge added all four bloggers knew from the outset what they were signing up for.

The principles of equity and good conscience do not justify giving the plaintiffs a piece of the purchase price when they never expected to be paid, repeatedly agreed to the same bargain, and went into the arrangement with eyes wide open, the judge said.

The bloggers tried to change the rule of the game after the game has been played, Koetl added. The Huffington Post is built on bloggers who contribute - for free - to the site, which reportedly had 36.2 million unique visitors in December.

The Huffington Post also said they are looking forward to the future, while working with more bloggers across the site.

This judgement removes any question about the merits of this case and we look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial relationship we share with our growing roster of interesting, dedicated and engaging bloggers, The Huffington post said.

The judge also confirmed the case cannot be brought to court again.

(reported by Jonathan Charles, edited by Surojit Chatterjee)

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