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FILED: NEW YORK COUNTY CLERK 06/26/2012

NYSCEF DOC. NO. 2

INDEX NO. 154004/2012 RECEIVED NYSCEF: 06/26/2012

SUPREME COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF NEW YORK Index No. HERZFELD & RUBIN, P.C., Plaintiff, VERIFIED COMPLAINT

JOEL LEYDEN, Defendant.

HERZFELD & RUBIN, P.C., the Plaintiff herein by its attorney, Edward L. Birnbaum, complaining of defendant, Joel Leyden ("Joel"), alleges as follows: 1. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff is a well-respected law firm with

offices at 125 Broad Street, New York, N.Y., which with its predecessor firms, has been engaged in the practice of law in New York for over sixty years. It is well lmown in the legal community, anaong lawyers and judges for its professionalism, responsibility, integrity, and dedication to the interests of its clients. 2. On December 12, 2005, Plaintiff prepaxed a Will for its longtime client,

Bernard Leyden ("Bernard"), the father of defendant. The Will was reviewed and republished when a Codicil was prepared and executed on December 3, 2007 after the initial execution of the Will. Bernard died on January 22, 2009. 3. Bernards Will provided, among other things, for a Trust which became

effective on Bernards death. It designated as Trustee, Brian Leyden ("Brian"), the other son of Bernard, and the brother of Joel Leyden ("Joel"), the defendant in this action. 4. The Will was probated in New York County and the Trust is, therefore,

subject to oversight by the New York County Stmogates Court.

5.

The Trust was established because Bernard did not have confidence in

Joels ability to manage funds and because of the frequency and severity of the physical, economic and including legal conflicts with women with whom he was not married and his ex-wives over arrears in alimony and non-support, and their potential and actual penal consequences. Bernard desired to create a mechanism with Brian as Trustee, which would safeguard the funds he was allocating for Joel from Joel~ behavioral difficulties. Accordingly, he entrusted them to Brian to be available to Joel as Brians "sole and absolute discretion, deems necessary or advisable." 6. For many years, Joel had been residing in Israel where he had engaged in

a variety of failing enterprises and relationships which required repeated support and rescue by Bernard. 7. Joel, in his computer published biography, portrays himself as an Israeli

war hero, and a seasoned, respected and responsible international public relations practitioner, In fact, as Joel also admits in published docttments, he describes himself as evicted from his home, and separated from his children and work opportunities in Israel. He claims to b~e subject to arrest if he returns to Israel. He also claims to own hundreds of computer domains, which he buys and sells. As described below, he perverts and abuses his computer domain registrations, not merely by nuisance attacks on persons he seeks to damage, but by deliberate defamation, coercion and other violation of law. 8. Brian, as Trustee, after Bernards demise, has acted with prudence to

administer the Trust assets to prolong their availability over Joels anticipated life span, to carry out Bernards intent to avoid their being squandered by Joel and to protect them from Joels creditors.

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9.

Plaintiff has acted as attorney for Brian, in his capacity as Executor of the

Estate, and as Trustee. At no time has Plaintiff acted as attorney, or in may other fiduciary capacity for Joel. 10. Approximately two years ago, Joel left or was caused to leave Israel in the context of failure to support and other charges in respect to his relations with his children. 11. Arriving in the United States, he contacted Brian ~and requested payments from the Trust which Brian determined were unwarranted. Negotiations with Joel successive attorneys failed to resolve Joels advanced and irrational demands. 12. Thereafter, Joel commenced his campaign of harassment, threats and coerce to force Brian to make payments from the Trust which, in Brians judgment, were inappropriate and contrary to his obligation under the Trust. 13. Joels response to Brians rejection of Joels demands was to cause his attorneys successively to press his demands thiough judicial action. He sued in three separate proceedings, ha the New York County Surrogates Court, through one or more of such attorneys, or pro se. The Surrogates Court dismissed each of Joels proceedings, finding that each claim was meritless. 14. The Surrogate, in dismissing the most recent proceeding brought by Joel,

directed him to stop his unsupported claims, in deference to the resources of the Court, as well as to avoid the depletion of the assets of the Trust by his irrational and frivolous applications. 15. Finally, the Surrogate, in August, 2011, issued an order prohibiting Joel from commencing any new proceeding without making a prior application to the Court and receiving the Courts permission.

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16. Nevertheless, Joel has brought action in the Supreme Court, Bronx County repeating the same issues which were rejected in the New York County Surrogate Court. 17. Having failed in his judicial applications, he intensified his campaign of non-judicial tactics to try by false, malicious, distorted, and defamatory attacks on Plaintiff, and his brother Brian, the Trustee of the Trust, to gain, by harassment and denigration of Plaintiff and the Trustee, the results denied to him in the judicial proceedings. Aware that Plaintiff has registered its firm name on the internet as "Herzfeld- Rubin.com, as in numerous other instances of his harassment of others, he illegally appropriated that name by registering the name HerzfeldRubin.com, and variants of the name, as computer domain naanes controlled by him. In furtherance of his illegal conduct, he posts or causes to be posted what he claims to be news articles, written by him under fictitious names, which are false and defamatory statements about Plaintiff. These articles are posted on an illicit Herzfeldrubin.blogspot.com, domain name as well as the domain names of scambook.com, ripoffreport.com, freerepublic.com, merchautscirlce.com, israelnewsagency.com and americanconservativenews.com. 18. In consequence, persons seeking authentic information about Herzfeld & Rubin, are diverted to Joels defamatory, false and denigrating materials posted or caused to be posted by him on his illicit and other domain names. 19. In his campaign, he has deliberately mad maliciously invented purported news services and fictitious newspaper writers to send his malicious, defamatory and distorted purported news releases to be posted under the aforesaid domain names. His objective is to pressure Plaiutiff to advise Brian to pay him moneys from the Trust, and to

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extort and extract moneys from Plaintiff by forcing a coerced sale if his demands are not met. FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION - DEFAMATION 20. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations of paragraphs 1 through 19 as though in full set forth. 21. Similar to his pattern of illegal coercion with num~erous other targets, on or

about May 5, 2012, acting, among others, under the fictitious name of "Jonathan Ariel," Israel Beach" and a pretended "Israel News Agency," operated by him, Joel issued for posting in the public press, his illicit domain names, and other domain resources, a false and malicious news article written l~eaded "Herzfeld & Rubin Accused of Malpractice, Breach of Trust." The writing falsely recites that "the case will be heard in the New York Supreme Court" and that "Herzfeld & Rubin has refused to answer or respond to emails or telephone calls by "Israel News Agency" The article also recites accusations of Joel "that Herzfeld & Rubin are depleting my Trust to fund the brutal and unnecessary legal battles," that it has taken over $80,000 in legal fees from my Trust", "that they march off to Court where they can find blank checks from my Trust" and "bully, intimidate and coerce in ways one could expect from Tony Soprano, not Law and Order." 22. In a posted purported "Update," dated May 7, 2012, Joel issued a false purported news release that "The court decided that Daniel (Joel) was suffering from several emergencies for which the Trust is responsible for addressing and has accepted the case." This is followed by a purported news release asserting that Plaintiff was acting as "thugs in suits to mislead both the court and legal counsel." All of the above are false, misleading and defamatory.

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23. In an email under the email address of Joel Leyden (IsraelMarketing@gmail.com), under date of May 17, 2012, Joel accused Plaintiff of stealing $80,000 from the Trust, stating "My father, who retained HR, never intended for Herzfeld & Rubin to steal 80,000 USD of his money, my money." He also refers to Plaintiff and its personnel as "crooks." The email which he published, and caused to be posted on another illicit Herzfeld & Rubin domain name, is addressed to his attorney and various third parties, to give it an imprimatur of dignity and reasoned discourse. It includes the direction to his attorney to "Please send the news story that editor/writer Jonathan Ariel wrote to the Supreme Court." The news story, the purported writer, Jonathan Ariel, and its contents, are the fictitious inventions of Joel. In another posting, he accuses Herzfeld & Rubin of"committing pmjury in court." 24. All of the foregoing recitals are false. There is no malpractice and no case of malpractice which will be heard in the New York Supreme Court. It is not Plaintiff but Joel who is depleting the Trust by his repeated frivolous proceedings. Herzfeld & Rubin have not taken over $80,000 from the Trust. They do not march off to Court. It is Joel who files the frivolous claims and marches to Court. They do not bully, intimate or coerce or act like Tony Soprano. No Court has decided that Joel was suffering from several emergencies. Plaintiffs are not acting like "thugs in suits." They are not stealing Joels money. The claim of perjury in court is simply more fiction. 25. , Plaintiff sustained damages for such defamation in the amount of in excess of $500,000 together with punitive damages of $500,000 damage in a total of $1,000,000.

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AS AND FOR A SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION DOMAIN NAME CYBERSQUATTING AND MISAPPROPRIATION OF NAME 26. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations of paragraphs 1 through 24 as though in fall set forth. 27. Plalntiffhas conducted its law practice under the name Herzfeld & Rubin for over fifty years. In the course of its operating, it maintains a computer website of www.Herzfeld-Rubin.col~n in which it posts relevant informatiqn to be disseminated to clients, prospective clients and other interested parties regarding its personnel, the practice areas in which it operates, and other facts which describe the practice. 28. Plaintiff was the attorney for Bernard Leyden. It had warm personal and professional relations with him for over fifty years until his demise. 29. Plaintiff has served clients throughout the United States, and many other areas in the world including Europe, Asia and the Americas. It has succeeded in achieving respect and a highly favorable reputation with its clients, its colleagues of the bar, and the judiciary, for its integrity, compassion, judgment, and professionalism. It is widely regarded by clients, bench and bar as anaong the most top law firms in the profession. 30. In about 2010, with intent to appropriate Plaintiffs good will, and to damage, denigrate and destroy the reputation of Plaintiff among members of the bar, bench, clients, potential clients, and the general public, Joel appropriated the name "HerzfeldRubin.com" and similar forms of the na111e Herzfeld & Rubin for domain names including "Herzfeldrubin.com, HerzfeldRubin.net, Herzfeldrubin.org. He used the illicit domain naanes to post or cause to be posted, false, derogatory and malicious materials about Plaintiff. He also caused to be published, circulated and posted articles on

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other websites, such as scambook.com, ripoffreport.com, freerepublic.com, merchantscircle.com, israelnewsagency.com, and americanconservativenews.com ostensibly constituting bona fide news information being released by bona fide news sources for bona fide news outlets. He intended to cause persons seeking by computer to contact Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C., which is registered as "Herzfeld-Rubin.com, to be diverted to such illicit websites from which Joel directly and inqlirectly disseminated his false, derogatory, distorted and damaging statements regarding Plaintiff. 31. The registry by Joel of the Herzfeld & Rubin domain names controlled by him violated 15 USC Section 1125(d), New York General Business Law Section 148, and Plaintiffs common law rights. 32. Plaintiff has demanded that Joel desist from posting false and derogatory information, and either discontinue the illicit domain names or transfer same to Plaintiff. 33. In response, Joel demanded a payment of $100,000 for Plaintiff to purchase the domain name "Herzfeldrubin.com" and that Plaintiff cause its client, Brian, to make the payments from the Trust which Brian had refused. 34. In addition, Joel advertised to the public offers to sell the illicit domain

name for $100,000. See Exhibit "A" armexed. 35. Joel rejected Plaintiffs demand that the illicit domain name and postings be discontinued. He continues to maintain the domain names and to post, or causes to be posted, further false and derogatory materials regarding plaintiff. 36. By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff is entitled to damages of at least

$500,000 together with punitive damages of $500,000.

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AS AND FOR A THIRD CASUE OF ACTION - TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH PLAINTIFFS PROFESSIONAL SERVICES 37. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations of paragraphs 1 through 35 as though in full set forth. 38. By reason of the unlawful conduct described before, clients, prospective clients and persons doing business with or desiring to do business with Plaintiff have been diverted from Plaintiffs website which recites the true information regarding Plaintiff to the illicit domain names, have become confused and uncertain about the recitals in Plaintiffs website, and have been deterred, from entertaining into {elations with Plaintiff, and Plaintiff s professional reputation and status has been damaged. 39. Plaintiff has been caused to expend extensive time and energy, at

significant costs, to investigate and determine the illicit activities and to seek counter action thereto. 40. By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff had sustained damages in the amount

of in excess of $500,000 and is entitled, in addition, to punitive damages of $500,000. AS AND FOR A FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION--PRELIMINARY AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION 41. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations of paragraphs 1 through 24, 26 through 34, 37 through 39 as though in full set forth. 42. By reason of the damage recited herein, Plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law and is entitled to preliminary and permanent injunction of the maintenance of the illicit domain names and such other relief as the Court may deem proper.

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WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands damages of $500,000 together with punitive damages of an additional $500,000, and interest on each of Counts 1, 2 and 3 of the Complaint, and a preliminary and permanent injunction as to Count 4, barring and precluding the direct and indirect issuance and posting on any domain name of materials containing or referring to Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C. and requiring the turnover of the illicit domain names to Plaintiff, together such other relief as the Coul:t may deep proper, with the costs of the action. Dated: New York, New York June 26, 2012 Edward L. Bil~aum, FA~q~F

By: A[ttorney for Plaintiff ~25 Broad Street, 12th Floor ~qew York, New York 10004 (212) 471-8500

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lO

VERIFICATION

STATE OF NEW YORK

) ) ss COUNTY OF NEW YORK )

EDWARD BIRNBAUM, being duly sworn deposes and says: That he is a Senior Member of the firm of HERZFELD & RUBIN, P.C., a defendant in the above-entitled action; that he has read the foregoing Verified Complaint and knows the contents thereof; and that the same is true to the best of his knowledge except as to matters therein stated to be alleged upon information and belief, and as to those matters he believes them to be true.

Birnbaum

Swqm to before me this ~./;,~ day of June, 2012

NOTARY P~IBLIC
BERNARD j. WALD Notary Public, State of New York No. 02WA41237450 Qua[ifiec/in New York Cou Commission Expires R,=^, ~ nty .... ~temoer 30, 2Gt~