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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Billy Mitchell vs. Twin Galaxies—Anti-SLAPP slapped down, moves to a trial!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I'll explain what that means, of course.

You might not think this matters, but I find it fascinating and it's videogame-related, so a recap: In 2018, it was alleged that legendary eSports pioneer and all-American hot sauce mogul Billy Mitchell is a fraud and his high scores in Donkey Kong are illegitimate lies. His records were stripped from the Guinness World Records book and gaming scoreboard Twin Galaxies. Earlier in 2020, Guinness restored the records upon Billy Mitchell presenting some evidence that he's not a fraud, but Twin Galaxies stood firm. Thus, Billy Mitchell sued Twin Galaxies for defamation, and both sides went off to court.

Skip ahead to this month. Twin Galaxies has alleged that Billy Mitchell's lawsuit is a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation), which is basically saying that Billy Mitchell is using his accumulated wealth and access to lawyers to bully Twin Galaxies into doing the wrong thing (restore Billy Mitchell's allegedly fraudulent records) and ruin the free speech rights of Twin Galaxies, since Twin Galaxies lacks the financial advantages that Billy Mitchell has.

Twin Galaxies countered with an anti-SLAPP motion (or Special Motion to Strike), which tries to have the court dismiss Billy Mitchell's defamation lawsuit and end things without a trial. In order for this to succeed, Twin Galaxies had to demonstrate that Billy Mitchell has no merit to his lawsuit, that it violated Twin Galaxies constitutional rights, and the lawsuit would have no chance of winning if it did go to a trial. The free speech violated is the idea that Billy Mitchell is chilling the speech of people publicly debating videogame scores, which is taking place on a very long series of threads on multiple forums. If Billy Mitchell is able to sue you for defamation, you'll be less likely to want to investigate these things.

Billy Mitchell defeated the anti-SLAPP motion. A trial will happen... but the outcome of that is unknown. Here's what Billy Mitchell has to say, and then read on for my thoughts, backed up by actually reading what the court said:

Billy Mitchell provided the court with legally admissable evidence that could persuade a jury to rule in his favour, assuming it's proven to actually be true and valid over the course of a trial. There are several matters of fact to be proven, and, again, those have to take place in a trial and not in this anti-SLAPP motion. Billy Mitchell also stated to the court that Twin Galaxies was acting with actual malice in them taking down his scores, because they didn't interview or examine Billy Mitchell's evidence and witnesses and already had a predetermined investigative conclusion that Billy Mitchell is a fraud before the investigation was complete, which demonstrates malice. Thus, the court believes that Mr. Mitchell's lawsuit surpasses a “minimal merit” standard, and can go to trial.

Rickey's World Famous Louisiana Hot Sauce Amazon listing prices October 2020 lawsuit Billy Mitchell
What if Billy Mitchell's business is in trouble not because of his reputation...
...But because of a total lack of supply and availability of his product?

Mr. Mitchell also said the revenue for his hot sauce business, Rickey's Hot Sauce, has gone down since his records have been removed, presumably because his public persona has been under attack. Personally, I think his revenues have gone down in 2018 and 2019 because his website no longer works (it did back in very early 2018!) and Amazon is selling, like, used bottles for outrageous prices. I have two bottles of his hot sauce, by the way. I was supposed to write a review several years ago, but never opened them. There's no expiration date on the bottles, but they've probably gone way bad, if they were ever good to begin with. Maybe I can resell them.

Anyway, here's what Billy Mitchell isn't mentioning: To proceed to trial, he has to post a bond of $81,225. This will cover 15 hours of counsel for Twin Galaxies (at an outrageous $525 an hour), filing fees, and $73,350 primarily consisting of the costs of 21 expected depositions of witnesses. He has to do this because Twin Galaxies also has a reasonable possibility of winning the case, and because California law lets Twin Galaxies request it if the plaintiff is from out-of-state, which Billy Mitchell is, being a Florida man. It's unknown if he's willing to pay it and proceed with the trial. The Twin Galaxies folks think they have an extremely solid case, as long as they can maintain the costs of retaining defence attorney(s). Just a note, the bond goes to the court, not to Twin Galaxies. (They may get it later.)

There's supposed to be stuff that happens in December, but who knows when we'll get the next update on this case. I'll be looking with extreme interest, however.

Whom do you think has the better case here? Billy Mitchell or Twin Galaxies? Should Ludwig try eating with that hot sauce? He doesn't even have any food to really eat with the hot sauce. White rice, maybe? Let him know in the comments section.


  1. I finna slap you in the face big dawg.

  2. From Andrew S. on Amazon:

    "After consuming this hot sauce, I was overcome with a powerful urge to submit fake Donkey Kong scores as world records. I did not like what I became in those few hours. I shopped around for flag ties and considered getting a mullet, all the while playing on MAME and denying I was using it at all.

    It also tasted bad."


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