NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Flavio LaRocca is not a fan of Talk of the Sound, apparently. He has, however, made it pretty easy to write the fifth installment of our series.
Yesterday, an attorney from Long Island sent a “cease and desist” letter to Talk of the Sound and Publisher Robert Cox threatening to pursue legal action if Talk of the Sound continues to publish articles about his clients Flavio LaRocca, Maria LaRocca and F. LaRocca & Sons, Inc.
We responded today. Below is that exchange:
Email from Stuart S. Zisholtz to Robert Cox/Talk of the Sound with attached demand letter:
We are the attorneys for Flavio LaRocca, Maria LaRocca and F. LaRocca & Sons, Inc. Please see attached letter. Guide yourself accordingly.
Stuart S. Zisholtz, Esq.
Zisholtz & Zisholtz, LLP
170 Old Country Road
Mineola, New York 11501
Zisholtz Demand Letter to Robert Cox/Talk of the Sound:
Dear Mr. Cox::
We are writing to you as counsel for Flavio LaRocca, Maria LaRocca and F. LaRocca and Sons, Inc. to demand that you cease and desist from publishing false and malicious articles intended solely to defame and malign my clients. Your libelous Four Part story on Mr. LaRocca and his company contain accusations and facts that are without support and truth and have resulted in my clients being defamed and damaged.
Your articles are nothing more than mean spirted (sic) attempts to compose a story where no story exists.
You are deliberately seeking to damage the reputation of a long standing (sic) reputable New Rochelle resident.
If you continue to release such disparaging articles and torment the LaRocca family, we will have no choice but to pursue all civil remedies available to protect their interests.
Be guided accordingly.
Very truly yours,
Stuart S. Zisholtz, Esq.
Email from Robert Cox/Talk of the Sound to Stuart S. Zisholtz with attached reply to demand letter:
I represent myself pro se. Please see the attached letter. You will kindly note that I am NOT sending this reply via Certified Letter as responding to this sort of tripe is not worth the cost of an envelope let alone the cost of sending your a letter. You have my answer in the attached letter and that will have to do.
Let me offer two suggestions: (1) it appears that I will be writing about your clients on a regular basis. If you have not done so already, please sign up for my daily Newsletter on all things New Rochelle at eepurl.com/jJhdL. I would not want you to miss anything; (2) given what the City of New Rochelle Corporation Counsel told me last week in his office, you might want to suggest to your clients that they spend less time attempting to manufactor bogus defamation lawsuits against my publication and me and more time finding themselves a good criminal defense attorney. From what I am told they are going to need it.
Guide yourself accordingly
Publisher and Managing Editor
Talk of the Sound
Robert Cox/Talk of the Sound Reply to Zisholtz Demand Letter:
Dear Mr. Zisholtz,
I am in receipt of your “Cease and Desist Notice” dated May 26, 2015 on behalf of your clients Flavio LaRocca, Maria LaRocca and F. LaRocca and Sons, Inc.
As I stated on our telephone call yesterday, your letter is absurd.
I see from your online profile that you are a construction lawyer. You might even be a brilliant construction lawyer but if you are advising your clients they have a libel case against my publication and me then you are either a truly lousy defamation lawyer or doing your clients a tremendous disservice (possibly both).
Your clients have made themselves public figures, appearing in television commercials, speaking at public meetings, and appearing before the New Rochelle City Council, which is televised. I do not know the La Roccas. I have never spoken with them or met them or dealt with them or their company. Until a few months ago I had never heard of them. Given this, I suggest your start boning up on New York Times v. Sullivan with special attention to the part about “actual malice” and then explain to your clients what that means so they understand the transparently frivolous nature of your claims and threats.
Even if they were not public figures, which they are, your clients have failed to avail themselves of multiple opportunities to correct the record, if they believe the record to be incorrect. Your clients may not have mentioned to you that I repeatedly contacted them before the first story ran and have left messages since. If they do not want to talk to me directly, you will please note there is a comment section on Talk of the Sound where they are free to respond in their own words. You wrote a letter yesterday on their behalf, which offers only the sweeping generalization that the four articles (so far) “contain accusations and facts that are without support and truth”. If you or they can identify some specific information in the article that is inaccurate, I would be more than willing to run a correction or editor’s note.
That said, the offer for them to go on the record still stands and if they wish to be interviewed and be heard on these matters I would welcome that at their convenience.
While I realize you might not have spent much time on defamation law in your practice, surely you took at least one law school class that broached the subject of the First Amendment. I am reporter and publisher. I have every right under the U.S. Constitution to publish articles about your clients. There is a concept of “prior restraint” which appears to have been left out of your legal training. Before you file a motion seeking to prevent me from publishing future articles, you might look this up, as I would expect the judge would be aware that what you seek is unconstitutional.
I have an extensive record of gathering news and information and publishing it. My purpose with Talk of the Sound is solely informing the public about what goes on in New Rochelle; that includes a history of investigative reporting about corruption and illegal activities in New Rochelle that have resulted in the termination of public employees, closing of private businesses due to City code violations, criminal investigations, arrests and convictions.
My sources for the four articles (so far) about your clients include government records, interviews with government officials, and photographs and videos that include documentation of Flavio LaRocca directing his work crew, using LaRocca & Sons equipment, as they work on public property to create a parking lot; I believe that work to have been just a part of an ongoing operation to destroy public property and convert it to the private use of LaRocca & Sons and their employees.
By now I trust you realize I have no plans to cease and desist reporting on anything, let alone your clients, Flavio LaRocca, Maria LaRocca and F. LaRocca and Sons, Inc. In fact, my response to these sorts of pathetic bullying tactics is to do more stories. You can rest assured that I will run as many stories about your clients as are warranted without the slightest consideration of what you or they think or do.
As you have threatened to “pursue all civil remedies available to protect their interests” if I do not agree to “cease and desist” and you now have my reply to your demand, I would state here what I said on the telephone, “see you in court”.
Robert A. Cox
Managing Editor & Publisher
Talk of the Sound
P.S., I have been using “LaRocca” for the company and “La Rocca” for the owners. Based on your letter, I will edit the articles to use only “LaRocca”. I would not want anyone engaging in a Google search for your clients to miss one of my articles so thanks for that.
PREVIOUS: Who is Flavio La Rocca? – Part IV
COMING NEXT: Who is Flavio La Rocca? – Part VI