Mercado Media Facing Defamation Lawsuit

Many of you know the name Andrew Mercado of Mercado Media Productions LLC from the Kenosha Unrest in August 2020, and other coverage throughout the country following Black Lives Matter protests including his home town of Minneapolis Minnesota where George Flloyd was killed.  Mercado hit the internet mainstream in record numbers with his coverage of the Russia/Ukraine war that started in February 2022.  Mercado’s continuous and dedicated coverage of the war nightly throughout the week has led to his current venture in raising enough funds to donate vehicles to the Ukrainian military on his recent visit to Ukraine.

Despite Mercado’s years of continuous news coverage and support for his various platforms there will always be those who seek to destroy and discredit one’s hard work. 

On June 2nd 2023 a lawsuit was filed against Andrew Mercado and Mercado Media Productions LLC, alleging “wantonness” in an Alabama Circuit Court for an alleged “defamatory” statement Mercado had posted on one of his social media platforms.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Matthew and Andrew Blevins who run the YouTube Channel “The Enforcer”.  The comment that sparked this controversy leading to the lawsuit was posted on May 24th 2023 according to the complaint.  The comment reads in part:  “BTW, majority of their donations they collect on Sundays go to slush funds very rarely do they actually fundraise for Ukrainian destinations.  So their “out” for everything “but they’ve raised nearly 100K for Ukraine is horseshit”. 

The complaint goes on to indicate; “Both prior, and subsequent, to the defamatory accusations, Defendant Mercado engaged in a campaign of harassment, bullying, and intimidation of Plaintiffs (“the campaign of harassment”), on the internet in repeatedly posting derogatory comments about Plaintiffs, derogatory comments about their YouTube channel, and generally seeking to have Plaintiffs’ YouTube followers abandon Plaintiffs based on the false and defamatory accusations, and has encouraged his YouTube followers to harass Plaintiffs”.

This “online beef” seems to go back further than the “slush fund” statement.  In a live stream video conducted by Mercado Media he goes into detail of where this all started.

Based on time stamps of live stream videos and other social media posts, it appears Mercado Media Productions publicly called out alleged misinformation regarding updates of the Ukraine war and posting of neo-Nazi propaganda on The Enforcer platform.  The hosts behind “The Enforcer” YouTube channel and other social media platforms they have, sent numerous harassing emails and online posts attacking Mercado for his criticism about their alleged inaccurate news coverage.  Posts via their Twitter channel and even commentary during their live streams have helped fuel this online beef between the two social media creators.  Posts that the Blevins brothers made on social media encouraged their followers to attack Mercado’s platforms resulting in the loss of his Twitter account and a brief suspension of his YouTube channel.  Despite many online statements made by The Enforcer platforms against Mercado, they allege Mercado is harassing, intimidating and bullying the two brothers.  NSM has not found a single video or statement made by Mercado that would resemble anything close to harassment,  intimidation or bullying of any kind.

The complaint goes on to read that as a “result of the false, wrongful, and malicious statements by Defendant Mercado, Plaintiff Matthew Blevins has been disgraced, his good name and character tarnished, and he has suffered humiliation and shame”.  The same statement is made towards the co-plaintiff, Andrew Blevins.  The complaint then goes on to say; “the campaign of harassment waged by Defendant Mercado against Plaintiff Matthew Blevins was wrongful and intended to harass, humiliate, embarrass, and cause plaintiff Matthew Blevins to incur mental suffering”.  “As a result of the invasions of privacy by Defendant Mercado, Plaintiff Matthew Blevins was harassed, humiliated, embarrassed and caused mental suffering”.

What is interesting in this diatribe of allegations from the Blevins brothers is one statement listed in the lawsuit that NSM believes is a critical error where it reads; “the defamatory accusations placed Plaintiff Andrew Blevins in a false, but not necessarily defamatory position in the eyes of those hearing the allegations”.  This statement is critical in their claim because what they are stating in layman’s terms is that their audience may not have believed the statement made by Mercado, therefore causing no actual damage to their reputation as the Blevins claim.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief in multiple forms.  First, that Mercado Media Productions remove/delete the defamatory and derogatory accusations/comments on the internet; that Mercado Media Productions be barred from making any negative comments about Plaintiffs Andrew and Matthew Blevins on the internet or elsewhere; and that Mercado Media Productions be restrained from engaging in any further harassment, bullying, and intimidation on the internet or elsewhere.  They are also seeking monetary damages of $50,000 each for Andrew and Matthew Blevins.

Let’s take a look at some other critical areas where this lawsuit may fall short of its claims and will be difficult to prove.  Individuals in Alabama can bring defamation per se charges against someone who makes false claims about chastity.  This applies to any claims that were spoken, written, or published.  Plaintiffs in such situations don’t have to prove monetary loss because false claims of moral turpitude are considered inherently defamatory under Alabama law.  In Alabama, any false, public and negligent speech, which degrades, projects hate or ruins a person’s reputation, is defamatory.  In Alabama, it’s the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that the defendant committed an act of defamation.  The statute of limitations in Alabama is 2 years.  Public figure plaintiffs, both all-purpose and limited purpose, are required to prove actual malice.  To recover for defamation, a plaintiff who is a public figure must overcome the defendant’s qualified privilege by providing the defendant’s actual malice.

One of the most famous United States Supreme Court cases, New York Times Co v. Sullivan 1964, established actual malice as a parameter in slander and libel lawsuits filed by public figures.  On March 29th 1960 the New York Times ran a full page advertisement, in support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “Heed Their Rising Voices”.  The ad claimed Alabama police had arrested King seven times when he’d only been arrested four times.  Offended by the mistake, and even though the ad didn’t mention him by name, then Montgomery public safety commissioner L.B. Sullivan wrote a retraction request letter to the Times.  Why?  At the time, Alabama statutes prevented plaintiffs from collecting punitive damages without proof of a retraction request denial.  The New York Times opted not to retract, but instead sent Sullivan a letter expressing puzzlement why he thought “the statements in any way reflected on him.  Unsatisfied, Sullivan sued for libel.    Eventually, the case went before the United States Supreme Court.  SCOTUS ultimately weighed the constitutionality of Alabama’s defamation law.  In a unanimous vote, the Justices ruled in favor of the New York Times because Alabama’s slander and libel statutes didn’t provide enough free speech safeguards.  To ensure a healthy and free press, the justices also declared that “actual knowledge of falsity” must be proven in defamation cases, involving matters of public interest, which are filed by public figures.

The Supreme Court has defined public figures as those who hold government offices and those who have achieved a role of special prominence in the affairs of society by reason of notoriety of their achievements or vigor and success with which they seek public’s attention.

The reason we bring up the status of “public figures” is because criticizing a public figure requires a higher burden of proof for harassment.  The moment you put yourself on the internet with even just 1 follower, you become a public figure.  Both Mercado Media and The Enforcer platforms would be considered “public figures” in the eyes of the court.  Claiming “harassment” for bringing attention to things said on a social media platform especially when the plaintiff first engaged in the very same actions would be hard pressed to prove harassment in any courts eyes. 

In Alabama the statute for harassment Section 13A-11-8 Harassment or harassing communications is a person commits the crime of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she either: (a) strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a person or subjects him or her to physical contact; (b) directs abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture towards another person, harassment shall include a threat, verbal or nonverbal, made with the intent to carry out the threat, that would cause a reasonable person who is the target of the threat to fear for his safety.  Harassing Communications is a person commits a crime of harassing communications if, with intent to harass or alarm another person, he or she does any of the following; communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail, or any form of written or electronic communication, in a manner likely to harass or cause alarm; makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication; telephones another person and addresses to or about such other person any lewd or obscene words or language; nothing in this section shall apply to legitimate business telephone communications. 

In layman’s terms, calling out content put out to the public as misinformation, disinformation or otherwise is not harassment even with mentioning where the information originated from.  Further, for a plaintiff to continuously mention or allude in coded phrases to the online beef, allege falsity and bring further attention to various incidents, they can’t claim injury and damages as they have also fueled the alleged claim and brought more public attention to the allegation than would have otherwise been brought.  Referring to a content creators platform being similar to the Bert & Ernie Sesame Street show may be offensive but not defamation or a violation of the 1st Amendment.

Another crucial element to the lawsuit where this suit will fall short, under Alabama Law, defendants in Alabama defamation of character cases are given the opportunity to retract defamatory statements before a case heads to trial.  Doing so can mitigate damages in the event of a loss for the defendant.  The retraction must be made within 10 days from the publication or distribution of the defamatory speech.  It also must be made in the same medium of communication of the original defamatory statement.  Moreover, if a retraction is published or communicated in a timely manner, the plaintiff can only recover actual damages, not punitive damages.  When Mercado Media published the comment that donations made on The Enforcer platform are given to slush funds, the phrasing may not have been accurate or correct.  By the fact that Mercado Media immediately corrected what was said that he was in no way talking specifically about The Enforcer platforms or its operators but was in fact talking about big corporations who are given the donations there can be no “defamatory” statement towards The Enforcer platform or its operators.  Further, since Mercado Media again addressed the issue after a “demand letter for retraction” was sent, there once again can be no defamatory statement.  Mercado made it very clear via his live stream videos that he was referring to big corporations, not The Enforcer platform or its operators.

NSM believes another challenging hurdle that The Enforcer platform and the Blevins brothers will struggle proving to an Alabama court is jurisdiction.  To establish the appropriate law to apply in such a case, the court must apply the choice of law rules of the forum state.  See Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg. Co. 313 U.S. 487 (1941) Subscribing to the doctrine of lex loci delicti, Alabama Law applies the law of the place where the wrong was committed or where the injury occurred.  See Morris v. SSE, Inc. 912 F.2d 1392, 1396 (11th Cir.1990); Griese-Traylor Corp. v. First Nat’l Bank of Birmingham, 572 F.2d 1039, 1044 (5th Cir. 1978).  The lawsuit on its face is going to bring into question “personal jurisdiction”, which is why the complaint states “Defendant Mercado has had sufficient minimum contacts within the State of Alabama, to be subject to the jurisdiction of this court”.  The Blevins will have to show Mercado Media Productions LLC either; transacted any business in Alabama, contracted to supply services or goods in the state; caused tortious injury or damage by an act or omission in the state from actions arising out of the ownership, operation or use of a motor vehicle, aircraft, boat or watercraft in the state; caused tortious injury or damage in the state by an act or omission outside the state if the person regularly does or solicits business, or engages in any other persistent course of conduct or derives substantial revenue from goods or consumed or services rendered in the state; owns property in the state; is married in the state; or otherwise having some minimum contacts with this state and, under the circumstances, it is fair and reasonable to require the person to come to this state to defend an action.  The minimum contacts referred to in this subdivision (I) shall be deemed sufficient, notwithstanding a failure to satisfy the requirement of subdivisions (A)-(H) of tis subsection (2), so long as the prosecution of the action against a person in this state is not inconsistent with the constitution of this state or the Constitution of the United States. Not having done any business in the State of Alabama, or traveled to Alabama in any official or unofficial capacity for business involving Mercado Media Productions will make it very difficult for a court to take personal jurisdiction over this case.  Due to this case being an internet based defamation case that crosses state lines from two different states where jurisdiction can be argued, the case should have been filed in a Federal Court, not in a local circuit court that more likely than not does not hold jurisdiction over the alleged wantonness.

Based on what NSM has viewed via documents, social media posts and videos, this entire claim by The Enforcer YouTube channel and it operators, Andrew and Matthew Blevins appears on its face to be a frivolous lawsuit in an attempt to prevent Mercado Media from publicly bringing attention to their own falsehoods they spew to their audience. 

The United States has one of the best judiciary systems in the world, but to say it’s without any flaws would be a mistake.  One of the key indicators of this imperfection is the presence of frivolous lawsuits within our court system.  A frivolous lawsuit is a lawsuit filed by an attorney who knowingly brings a case forward despite a lack of legal precedent, facts or merit.  Frivolous lawsuits, though humorous to read about, actually have many negative effects.  These cases take up court time and resources and can have a negative impact on the lives of those being sued; particularly individuals and small businesses who aren’t expecting to pay legal fees and give up time in court.  One of the main reasons frivolous lawsuits exist in the U.S. court system today is because of a 1993 amendment to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  The amendment gave leeway to attorney’s who present frivolous lawsuits in court, allowing a 21 day period for attorneys to withdraw a frivolous lawsuit penalty-free after being challenged in court.  Most tort lawsuits are legal and justified, but the increase in tort law expenditures since the 1990s is alarming.  In 2009 statistics revealed that almost $250 billion was spent on tort lawsuits.  Ensuring that attorney’s file tort lawsuits responsibly could spare economic damages to individuals, small businesses, and to the economy as a whole.

This entire case felt eerily familiar as NSM recently went through a similar situation with the CJTV platform when NSM was attempting to expose CJTV and its owner/operator Carl Halliburton for fraud, theft, rape and other crimes.

Halliburton filed a harassment restraining order against NSM alleging, harassment, stalking, and death threats.  Halliburton eventually lost in a 7 month long court case where a Kenosha WI circuit court sided with NSM that criticizing public figures and even expressing offensive language did not violate Wisconsin’s harassment and stalking laws and were in fact protected under the 1st Amendment to criticize even online public figures even if such criticism offends or hurts one’s feelings.

While this entire lawsuit against Mercado Media had undertones of CJ Halliburton it didn’t surprise us that of course CJ Halliburton would also have his hands in this.  On June 24th 2023 CJ Halliburton sent an email to Matthew Blevins that states: Good Afternoon, I hope this email finds you well.  I would love to speak with you in detail about the lawsuit against Mercado Media.  I used to work with him loosely and I also had to deal with his defamatory actions in his pursuit of clout and followers.  If I can assist is {sic) any way I would be more than happy to lend my personal assistance and information with you and your team, Best Regards CJ Halliburton.

Careful now CJ, you have already been exposed for being a fraud, thief, drug addict, violent criminal who has defrauded his viewers for years out of thousands of dollars and due to NSM exposing this grifting fraud has caused the CJTV platform to be non-existent.  Apparently Halliburton feels his redemption will be attempting to assist in taking down Mercado Media since he couldn’t take down Never Stop Media, who some call the Eminem of Journalism because NSM has been responsible in shutting down multiple creators platforms across the country for reporting false light and defamatory information to the public.  For another set of right leaning conspiracy clowns to partner with a fraud and alleged rapist who has already tried this course of action it just shows the desperation that the right will go to in order to protect their grifting lies.  It’s always ok when they have something negative to say about other creators or journalists, but when it’s done in return with receipts to back it up, here come the meritless lawsuits.  All the views, subscribers and super-chat donations won’t stop the truth from coming out.

NSM reached out to Matthew Blevins for comment via email.  His response to our inquiry was the following: "We have retained counsel in the matter and cannot comment due to ongoing litigation. Thanks." NSM followed this up with more questions and we received the following response with what seemed to be a threat to even NSM reporting on the lawsuit;  

"The bottom line is Andrew Mercado defamed us in front of thousands and we intend on holding him accountable. However, I cannot comment on details in the litigation.
Also, I’m sure you are already aware but I just want to remind you that republishing/repeating defamatory statements is defamation in itself. As you have probably noticed, we are very vigilant about protecting our reputation. We hope you exercise due diligence in verifying the accuracy of your reporting. - Matt."
NSM has not received any further response for comment from The Enforcer operators.

This is an ongoing story and Never Stop Media will continue to cover it.

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