Miller Barondess Handles High-Profile Defamation Action Against Comcast and NBC Universal

Miller Barondess Handles High-Profile Defamation Action Against Comcast and NBC Universal

Times of San Diego—September 28, 2019—As millions know, Rachel Maddow can be found weeknights at MSNBC studios in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center. But a process server needed four tries to track her down — or at least her security guard.

At a cost of nearly $600, Thomas Bobe of First Legal services repeatedly went to Studio 3-A in an effort to deliver a summons and lawsuit from San Diego-based Herring Networks.

According to papers filed Thursday in the $10 million One America News defamation case, Bobe stopped by at 4:58 p.m. Sept. 17, 11:08 a.m. Sept. 18 and 11:24 a.m. Sept. 19.

Each time, he failed to make the handoff.

“No answer at legal department,” Bobe reported on Day 1. “No one from the legal department came down. Unable to serve,” he said on Day 2. And “Per legal department, they are unable to accept documents for any individuals” on Day 3.

Finally, at 1:34 p.m. last Friday — success!

Bobe left “copies with or in the presence of” a 5-foot-10, 175-pound Latino security guard with black hair he calls “John Doe.”

(Process servers had less success in spelling the address of Maddow’s workplace, however. They consistently referred to “30 Rockerfeller Plaza.”)

That same day, as law allows, First Legal’s Thomas Tilcock mailed the same documents to Maddow from Los Angeles. Fee for service: $295.75. (It included a prepaid mailer for a return receipt.)

Maddow’s co-defendants were easier to serve.

On Sept. 12, papers were delivered to owner Comcast in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (at a charge of $295.75) and offices of NBC Universal and MSNBC Cable in Wilmington, Delaware. (No fees listed.)

So for at least $1,200, the second step of the civil suit is complete.

The 46-year-old Bay Area native is being sued for saying on air July 22 that San Diego’s OAN “really literally is paid Russian propaganda.”

“The segment was part and parcel of Maddow’s obsession with drawing connections between President Trump and the Russian government,” the suit said.

The defendants haven’t commented publicly on the case yet, but the court record notes that a new judge has been assigned in San Diego federal court.

Last week, the case that first went to Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Allison H. Goddard, who’s been on the bench less than two months.

A 2000 graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law, Goddard was lead attorney for more than 80 women suing Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa for secretly recording women during labor and delivery.

The attorney for Herring Networks is far more experienced. “Super Lawyer” Louis “Skip” Miller, a UCLA law school graduate, was admitted to the state Bar in 1972 and lists clients including the cities of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Carson, Anaheim, Riverside and Monterey Park.

And per his web bio, he’s represented Rod Stewart, Elton John, Nick Nolte, Bob Dylan, Sean Connery, Nile Rodgers, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Steely Dan, Lionel Richie, Don Felder (Eagles), Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses) and rock bands including Mötley Crüe, KISS and Stone Temple Pilots.

Miller, it went on, “successfully represented investors who put a billion dollars into Internet incubator Idealab; won a $7 million judgment against musician Michael Jackson in a jury trial in Santa Maria; and prevailed in the Ninth Circuit and district court in a series of civil rights cases brought against the City of Los Angeles and the City of Beverly Hills and their mayors, chiefs of police and City Council members.”

Also notable: The lawyer for conservative Herring Networks is a liberal donor.

In June, according to opensecrets.org, Miller gave Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden the federal maximum of $2,800. Miller gave Trump impeachment investigator Adam Schiff thousands of dollars as well (after writing a $1,500 check to Barack Obama in 2008).