Here are court documents related to the case; Final tweet sent
In early March, a lawsuit was surfaced in State of Connecticut Superior Court. The lawsuit involved former NASCAR CEO Brian France and John L. Steele, the operator of a parody twitter account.
Steele (Defendant) is represented by Jay Marshall Wolman. France (Plaintiff) is represented by Daniel Walter Cohen.
Steele operated a twitter account (@DrunkBrianF) which offered comedic value, often from the tone of the former NASCAR CEO. 80,500+ tweets were sent from the account with just under 20,000 followers since February 2014.
Parody is protected. However, you can still sue for anything.
The profile picture featured the mugshot of Brian France. It was from the 2018 DUI arrest in New York.
Following the arrest, France was removed from his NASCAR position. Since, he has rebounded to launch a new company, Capital Group. They provide capital to growing businesses.
Everyone knew it wasn’t France himself. Hot topics were commented on from a comical point of view. But, it wasn’t funny to everyone, like the former NASCAR CEO himself.
Steele often used words like “I” in reference to Brian France headlines and pictures that harmed the former CEO’s image. Court documents argue that use of verbiage indicated that the tweets were coming from France himself, when they were instead being sent by Mr. Steele.
In initial filings, Brian France was seeking $15,000 plus legal fees in the case. He also demanded a trial by jury in the case.
Now, the two parties appear to be in settlement discussions.
Drunken Brian France: Final tweet
On April 18, the Drunken Brian France parody account removed it’s profile picture of the NASCAR CEO. It was replaced by a solid black image.
Additionally, the following note was posted to the account:
“Brian France was not and never has been associated, affiliated or in any way involved with this Twitter account or any of the content generated and/or posted by it.”
“I will be permanently deactivating and deleting this account. I understand this account harmed Brian France and his family in ways never intended, and for that I am sorry.”
April 17: Court filing
“March 19, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7G, section 2 of which “suspend[s], for the duration of this public health and civil preparedness emergency…(2) time requirements, statutes of limitation or other limitations or deadlines relating to service of process, court proceedings or court filings”; and WHEREAS the parties are otherwise engaged in settlement discussions and wish to avoid incurring unnecessary attorneys’ fees.”
“NOW THEREFORE, the parties hereby stipulate and agree as follows:
“1. The deadline set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-196a(c), being the deadline to file a special motion to dismiss under the Connecticut anti-SLAPP statute, which is ordinarily within thirty days following the return day, is among the deadlines suspended pursuant to Executive Order No. 7G;”
“2. Defendant John Steele’s time to plead any of the pleadings identified in Section 10-6 (2)-(5) of the Practice Book, which advance within thirty days of the return day, and the advancement of each subsequent pleading, motion, and/or request, shall be stayed and shall be deemed suspended pursuant to Executive Order No. 7G, § 2.”