Damiano di Popolo v. Dennis Watson: the recently settled Hells Angel Cdn libel tort

June 30, 2016 at 16:40 EDM:  Well this post is clearly in need of some updating; I see several of the media links I posted here have vanished.  (And they say nothing ever disappears from the Internet.)  What actually brought me here today, however, was a decision reported by TMZ.com today in a U.S.A. libel lawsuit brought by Jerry Heller against the producers of ‘Straight Outta Compton:’   http://www.tmz.com/2016/06/30/straight-outta-compton-lawsuit-jerry-heller/  that shows in essence what is wrong with American libel law standards.  The decision handed down states that in the part of Heller’s lawsuit allowed to proceed, Heller must now prove that he didn’t say the defamatory things the film alleges he said; and further, Heller must now prove that the producers acted with malice when they alleged he said them.  And those two things right there are what’s wrong with American libel law.

Go home today and prove to your spouse that you’re not having an affair.  Go ahead.  Try it.  The next time your spouse complains about something you did or haven’t done, prove they’re speaking with malice.  When you visualize trying those two things, you should have a better idea if you didn’t previously, of just how hard it is to (i) disprove a negative;   and (ii) prove malice.  Malice torts are infamously difficult to prove in any case.  And the unfairness of having the burden to to prove you didn’t do something is the reason for the fundamental legal principle in a democracy that one is innocent until proven guilty.  Yet, the Americans carry on and don’t seem to see a problem with their libel law.

Back to this post:  a number of the links have disappeared regarding di Popolo’s case with Watson, but CBC links have staying power:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/hells-angel-damiano-di-popolo-sues-gangsters-out-blogger-for-defamation-1.3098743  Unfortunately it doesn’t appear the CBC bothered to update that post with information regarding the decision.  However, the CBC has kept up with news about the Hells Angels in general, and so here is more support for the view of the Hells Angels as being a “criminal organization:”  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/14-hells-angels-plead-guilty-to-conspiracy-to-commit-murder-1.3064814   http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/hells-angels-targeted-in-organized-crime-busts-in-saskatchewan-alberta-1.2901967  as well as a link to an excellent Vancouver blogger on organized crime, Kim Nolan:   http://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/organized-crime-and-the-port-part-one-of-my-series

……………….end of June 30 update………….

After the Hells Angels had brought themselves to my attention for the third time in as many years, (see  https://marnietunay2.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/a-summary-review-of-out-in-bad-standings-by-ex-bandido-edward-winterhalder/  ), I began to take a (mild) interest in their press-reported activities; moreover, I am always interested in libel torts, especially Canadian ones.  The standard is more fair to plaintiffs in Canada, requiring the defendants to meet a burden of proof that defamatory material is true, unlike the American standard, which puts the burden to prove it’s not true on the plaintiff.

All Canadian bloggers who write about controversial things or people should have a copy of ‘Canadian Libel and Slander Actions’ by Roger D. McConchie and David A. Potts as their blogging bible.  (‘Libel,’ by Peter A. Downard is a nice addition, too.)  Unfortunately, Dennis Watson had evidently never heard of either book, and his posts on (reputed) Canadian Hells Angel Damiano di Popolo clearly reflected his ignorance of libel law, gauging by di Popolo’s statement of claim filed in May 2015, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia:  https://www.scribd.com/doc/267344026/Notice-of-Civil-Claim-Damiano-di-Popolo-v-Dennis-Watson  Assuming the statements alleged in that claim to be factual as regards the contents of what Watson had said about the (reputed) Hells Angel, the claim reads like an outstanding primer on what not to say as a blogger in Canada.

Damiano di Popolo, who has been alleged by mainstream media to be a member of Vancouver’s East End Hells Angels:  http://www.vancouversun.com/Damiano+Dipopolo+front+East+chapter+Hells+Angels+with+other+assorted+Hells+Angels+Swollen+Members+video/11100554/story.html  has just settled his beef with Dennis Watson:  http://www.theprovince.com/news/Judge+orders+Surrey+blogger+take+down+posts+about+Hells+Angel+stop+writing+about/11258526/story.html

Now, I think Dennis Watson must have had a very good lawyer, because he got off very easy, in my opinion, based on what I can see in di Popolo’s claim as regards what Watson actually said.  Having said that, however, there are one or two things about di Popolo’s claim that catch my eye:  https://www.scribd.com/doc/267344026/Notice-of-Civil-Claim-Damiano-di-Popolo-v-Dennis-Watson  In section 4, item g of that claim, you’ll note that it claims Dennis Watson had said that di Popolo is “a member of a criminal organization.”  Clearly, di Popolo was contesting Watson’s claim that di Popolo belongs to a criminal organization, and that is also how the mainstream media interpreted di Popolo’s legal notice as well:  http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/fraser-valley/make+honest+living+Hells+Angel+sues+Surrey+blogger/11100524/story.html

However, there are solid grounds in Canada as a whole for considering the Hells Angels to be a criminal organization.  In Manitoba, for example, being a Hells Angels member or associate is grounds for deportation for foreigners:  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/hells-angels-members-deported-as-refugee-board-declares-bike-gang-a-criminal-organization  and the Manitoba courts have backed up the Immigration and Refugee Board in that respect:  http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Manitoba-first-to-declare-Hells-Angels-criminal-organization-246550061.html  They’ve also been declared a criminal organization in Quebec, and here is just one small part of the reason why:  http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=5462995&File=39#_ftn13

While they have not yet been declared unilaterally in B.C. to be a “criminal organization,” it’s clear the cops at least are leaning that way:  http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/1725/arvay-to-represent-hells-angels-in-challenge-of-b-c-forfeiture-law.html

Not that being a member of a criminal organization, (even if that had been proven to be true, which it has not), would make Damiano di Popolo a criminal himself, an important fact that Dennis Watson evidently overlooked.  For one thing, di Popolo could be a cop.  It would not be the first time the Hells Angels had ever been infiltrated.  Or, he could be an informer.  Either one would put him on the side of the good guys, in the eyes of most people, now, wouldn’t it.  Or, maybe he just likes the huge and security-free loans he can (allegedly) get from the Angels:  http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=1d41b9e1-e88e-4ff1-b190-af84a3eca940  And maybe the Angels don’t need him for any criminal activities because he has other benefits for them, like, say, for example, useful social contacts.  Di Popolo clearly gets around:  real estate magnate, clothing store owner, longshoreman, Little League coach and regular Catholic church attendee.

Gosh, who wouldn’t want to get in good with a guy like that?



About Marnie Tunay

I'm not here much at the moment. You can visit my web-sites to learn more about me. https://marnietunay2.wordpress.com/
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10 Responses to Damiano di Popolo v. Dennis Watson: the recently settled Hells Angel Cdn libel tort

  1. Pingback: A Summary Review of ‘Out in Bad Standings’ by ex-Bandido Edward Winterhalder | Fakirs Canada

  2. The large Di Popolo “loans” primarily relate to the unbridled gift-giving from the De Cotiss clan, apparently for services rendered in helping “resolve” a family dispute.

    This is a SLAPP lawsuit, and given that fact it ought to offend anybody with mediocre common sense and an appreciation of the difference between right and wrong.

    • Marnie Tunay says:

      “This is a SLAPP lawsuit…” If, by “This” you mean di Popolo’s lawsuit against Dennis Watson, then, clearly, the judge didn’t agree with your assessment of it, and neither do I. To accuse someone of being a criminal, especially such specific allegations as are quoted in di Popolo’s statement of claim, without solid proof of the same, could have opened Watson up to charges himself. It is actually against the law in Canada to accuse someone of criminal behavior without having solid grounds for such an accusation. Nobody should think they can say whatever they want about somebody, just because that somebody is a Hells Angel. You yourself should know this, because your own most recent blog-post on the Angels, which I took a quick look at just now, looks a lot more solid than Watson’s did or do. Moreover, after the lawsuit was settled, I visited Watson’s site and I noticed he was trying to drum up donations for legal representation, which he claimed he didn’t have, but several newspapers cited the name of a lawyer who was apparently representing him during the settlement. He claims he didn’t agree not to say anything more about di Popolo. Whether he did or not is moot, because the judge has Ordered him to shut his trap on that subject, and he’d be well advised to listen, for once. I say all this, you understand, as someone who is no friend of outlaw bikers. But I believe the laws should apply to everyone, even their adversaries.

    • Marnie Tunay says:

      P.S. I’ve just taken a closer look at your blog. The letter you wrote (and published on your blog) evidently to di Popolo’s lawyer in his lawsuit with Watson constitutes harassment and abuse in my opinion. Lawyers have a job to do and it is not okay to call them “sick” for doing it. Therefore, I have removed the link to your blog, which you included in your comment above.

  3. fvddgvgd says:

    The lawyer responsible is now representing … [edited by Marnie Tunay] Brett Matich

    • Marnie Tunay says:

      You see how little you get to say here? That’s the Only part of your comment for which you show actual proof on your web-site and which isn’t libelous. You cannot call someone a rapist without having hard evidence of the same; I checked your allegation and found none to speak of online. No media stories, no court cases, nothing. And whose side are you On anyway? You claim to hate bikers, but you’re evidently trying to get what you claim is probably an undercover cop killed for being one. You’re screwy. Next time you try to post a comment here, I’ll probably just delete it. But thanks for the video, that IS interesting. [updated Nov 16, 2015: just for that, I’ve edited out your last remaining links here, ‘Ace.’]

      • fvddgvgd says:

        I can and DO call a rapist a rapist. Just because YOU are far too fukkin retarded to do the very simple things like proper due diligence what gives you the licence to deny the truth? You are a complete fart-like joke. […. edited by Marnie Tunay] wanted in Oz for fraud and rape. Period.

        […. edited by Marnie Tunay] is a high ranking Hells Angel and has been for 25 years. That’s ANOTHER self-evident fact any fukkin idiot could figure out in 10 seconds flat.

        Your hero defamation types are the lowest form of scum on earth and are abusing the BCSC process because they can afford it you stupid, stupid biatch. Take a fukkin bow and tell us some more about how hard done by these poor, blameless fucks are.

      • Marnie Tunay says:

        I’ve approved this comment by you because it tells the world what sort of person you are and that you are not to be taken seriously. You will get no more comments posted here.

  4. fvddgvgd says:

    Seriously you wicked fukkin KUNT. Why are you publishing Watson’s name while defending the pure scum of the earth?

    He has a daughter you fucking wicked evil KUNT. Your verbal fuckheadism could get him killed. He’s stopped posting about the HA. FUCK OFF.

    • Marnie Tunay says:

      Well, I think Dennis Watson is quite capable of complaining to me himself if he has a problem with me; he’s clearly no baby and doesn’t need a loose screw like you to speak For him. Your mental state has clearly deteriorated since I first looked over your web-site a few months ago.

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