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A.Z. v. Doe

A high school student and her parent sued a whistleblower who sent an anonymous email to a high school teacher who was the faculty advisor to an honorary program that showed that students could be "cool" without drinking.  The email attached photos portraying several members of the program, incluiding the plaintiff,  as playing beer pong and drinking, and listed plaintiff's name amopng several student who were betraying the ideals of the program.  Doe moved to quash the subpoenas, and the trial court quashed the subpoena on the ground that, although plaintiff had submitted evidence sufficient to make a prima facie case that the email was false, Doe's anonymity should prevail at the balancing stage of Dendrite v. Doe. 
Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that Dendrite applies only to messages placed on web sites and not to emails.  The Superior Court, Appellate Division, affirmed on alternate grounds.  The court decided that the Doe's affidavit, signed anonymously, had authenticated the photos as having been posted to the plaintiff student's own Facebook page, and hence plaintiffs could not make a prima facie case of falsity even though they had denied that plaintiff was drinking.  The court ruled that the failure to make out a prima facie case was sufficient to require the dismissal of the claim and hence denial of discovery regardless of whether Dendrite applies to emails.

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