From May it Please the Court:
If ever there was a horror story about stealing a website, then this case is it: Del Junco v. Hufnagel. Dr. Tirso Del Junco, Jr. is a highly qualified surgeon who assists women with alternative surgeries instead of hysterectomies. For reasons not stated in the opinion, another individual, V. Georges Hufnagel, who had her medical license revoked in California and New York and disciplinary proceedings pending against her in the state of Hawaii, tried to steal Dr. Del Junco’s website.
Dr. Del Junco had a website entitled drdeljuncojr.com. Hufnagel started a mimic-style website without the “jr” part of Dr. Del Junco’s URL. On her mimic website, she defamed Dr. Del Junco and claimed he was not a vascular surgeon (he is) and he had no specialized training (he does). Unfortunately for Dr. Del Junco, his business started to fall off and he suffered financially as a result of the traffic directed away from his website by the mimic website.
He consequently brought a lawsuit against Ms. Hufnagel and obtained an injunction to prevent her from maintaining the mimic website and continuing to defame him.
That’s when the trouble doubled (in the first link above, skip down to page 5). A prior court had found Hufnagel was a “vexatious litigant,” and this case proved to be more of the same. She filed a 140-page response to the motion for injunction (you’re allowed only 15 pages). When the court granted Dr. Del Junco’s injunction, she ignored it. She failed to show up for hearings. She filed papers that didn’t comply with court rules. To top it off, she filed and withdrew pleadings at will and without the court’s permission.
Then she hired an attorney, but things didn’t get better. The attorney and Hufnagel succeeded in delaying the proceedings further. Finally, the trial court stepped in and struck her answer and entered her default. Not surprisingly, she appealed.
The court of appeal had no problem sustaining the trial court’s primary orders.
As the justices observed about Hufnagel, “from the start of the case to the time the trial court struck Hufnagel’s answer and entered default, Hufnagel showed no interest in taking part in the case or in following orders of the court. All of her actions were those of an obstructionist, not a participant in the process. She filed documents in propria persona that did not follow proper form, were lengthy, contained irrelevant information, and violated court rules. She filed documents without serving them. She failed to comply with the injunction and continued to operate the counterfeit web site. She did not pay sanctions when ordered. When she had counsel, things did not improve. Misrepresentations were made to the court, documents were not filed when promised, responses to interrogatories were never delivered, and phone calls were not returned. The actions of Hufnagel and her counsel were willful and deliberate, caused unnecessary delay, and wasted the trial court’s resources. The actions caused Dr. Del Junco to incur unnecessary expense.”
His final award? $358,724.90, after the court of appeal struck the trial court’s award of punitive damages due to a lack of proof of Hufnagel’s financial worth.
I’ll bet she refused to produce documents detailing her financial worth during the underlying lawsuit.
Here’s the good doctor’s new website, Alternative Surgery.