PHILADELPHIA – A defamation case pitting a Massachusetts lawyer against a North Carolina man and Pennsylvania knife manufacturer and seller has been settled.
On May 5, the lawsuit between Anthony L. Marfione of Henderson County, N.C. and Microtech Knives, Inc. of Bradford versus defendant Anthony F. Sculimbrene of Fitchburg, Mass., was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice, according to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania records. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Marfione and Microtech Knives first filed suit on Jan. 31, 2017 in the McKean County Court of Common Pleas, against Anthony F. Sculimbrene of Fitchburg, Mass. Sculimbrene removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on Feb. 17, 2017, and an amended version of the complaint was filed on March 13 of last year.
According to the original lawsuit, “Sculimbrene has uttered and published and distributed defamatory statements as to plaintiff Marfione. In particular, Sculimbrene has stated that Marfione has stolen designs and committed theft of intellectual property, that Marfione is lazy and greedy, that it is Marfione’s nature to steal, that Marfione is a 'snake-in-the-grass' (meaning that he is a deceitful and treacherous person).”
The plaintiffs contended these statements “exposed plaintiff Marfione to ridicule and contempt, and have injured him in his business and trade of knifemaking; and injured his reputation. The above statements by defendant Sculimbrene were made recklessly and in conscious disregard for the harm to plaintiffs.”
The suit says Sculimbrene had intent to cause financial loss to Microtech by stating willfully and wrongfully that “Microtech wrongfully used a knife design, that Microtech committed theft of intellectual property by releasing a scaled-down version of a knife previously produced by Microtech, that Microtech “did real harm” to the “knife business” (meaning, the knife industry) and that Microtech ripped off a competitor.”
Sculimbrene denied the allegations in a response motion to dismiss filed last April, and claimed the plaintiffs did nothing to establish minimum contacts or personal jurisdiction over him.
“Defendant provides an affidavit in support of his motion to dismiss. Therein, he avers that: He has never lived or worked in Pennsylvania, owned real estate, had a bank account, owned any tangible or intangible property in Pennsylvania, conducted business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, paid taxes or employed any persons in Pennsylvania,” Sculimbrene’s motion read.
Sculimbrene’s motion explained the Jan. 20, 2017 blog post that is the subject of the lawsuit “does not identify, mention or otherwise target the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, does not identify Microtech’s place of residence, direct its comments to Pennsylvania readers or identify by state the residents of persons who commented on the blog.”
For initial counts of defamation, commercial disparagement and equitable relief, the plaintiffs had been seeking compensatory damages in excess of $50,000, punitive damages, interest and costs where appropriate, to remove the defamatory and disparaging statements from public access, plus other relief as appropriate.
The plaintiffs were represented by Daniel C. Lawson of Microtech Knives, Inc., in Bradford.
The defendant was represented by Rochelle R. Koerbel of Blumling & Gusky, in Pittsburgh.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case 1:17-cv-00046
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org