Published July 15, 2008
CLEVELAND – A woman has sued celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, saying she was fired from her job as a nurse after the gossip maven posted an e-mail she sent him that contained gay slurs.
Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, posted Diane Wargo's full name and work e-mail address along with her message on Dec. 27, according to a lawsuit.
Wargo and her former employer, Menorah Park Center for Senior Living in suburban Cleveland, began receiving threatening e-mails, the lawsuit states.
"There was a rallying cry among the commenters to spam bomb her and her employers," said Wargo's attorney, Brian Spitz.
She lost her job later that day, Spitz said. Wargo, who filed the lawsuit Monday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, is seeking $25 million in damages from the Los Angeles-based blogger. She had worked at the senior living center for nine years.
Lavandeira's attorney, Bryan Freedman, said Wargo's lawsuit has no merit.
"If she's looking to find who's responsible for her plight, she ought to start by looking in the mirror," Freedman said Tuesday.
Wargo's lawsuit contends that Lavandeira violated the "conditions of use" disclaimer on his Web site that states the privacy of visitors will be protected and that personal information will be disclosed only by obtaining permission.
Freedman said the disclaimer applies to visitors posting comments on the Web site, not e-mails. He said anyone who sends an e-mail to perezhilton.com does not have an expectation of privacy rights.
"A post is clearly different than sending an e-mail," Freedman said. "You're actually accessing the site when you post something."
Wargo offered to settle the claim for $85,000 along with the removal of her name, e-mail address and her message from the Web site, according to a letter Spitz sent to Freedman on Feb. 9 that was filed with the lawsuit. Lavandeira rejected the offer.
Jamie Herbst, director of human resources at Menorah Park, declined comment. Herbst previously sent an e-mail to Lavandeira, which he posted, apologizing "for any harm the unauthorized and inappropriate email may have caused."
Lavandeira has been sued numerous times, including several lawsuits by paparazzi and others who claim he posts their photos and video on his site without permission. Earlier this year, Lavandeira won $85,000 to pay his legal costs in a defamation lawsuit brought by a friend of actress Lindsay Lohan.