RV Consumer Group has found attorneys willing to defend it for free against the libel and defamation suit filed by Alfa Leisure Inc., Chino, Calif.
However, the legal team assembled to represent RV Consumer Group, a nonprofit, membership-dues supported organization, cannot represent Margo Crawford, the full-time RVer whose complaints about her Alfa Leisure fifth-wheel precipitated the lawsuit, according to Connie Gallant, administrator of the Quilcene, Wash.-based organization.
RV Consumer Group’s defense team will include “lead counsel from the University of California at Berkeley with co-counsel from a California firm specializing in litigation with assistance from Public Citizen in Washington, D.C.,” Gallant said.
Because Alfa Leisure filed its lawsuit in California state court, and because RV Consumer Group was founded and is incorporated in California, it must have California-licensed legal representation, Gallant said.
Prior to a trial, RV Consumer Group will get free legal assistance from Maria Crimi Speth, an attorney in Arizona, Gallant added.
However, RV Consumer Group anticipates it will need to pay some legal fees. It hopes to keep the amount under $10,000, and so far, it has received almost $5,000 in donations to its legal defense fund, she said.
RV Consumer Group’s insurance policy does not cover liability claims related to published material, according to Gallant.
One reason why RV Consumer Group, www.rv.org, exists is to provide the RV enthusiast community with access to product information, including complaints posted in the Court of Public Opinion section of its website.
RV Consumer Group says its Court of Public Opinion section is “provided strictly as an educational service.” Before RV Consumer posts a Court of Public Opinion item, it requires documentation including a bill of sale, repair bills, other receipts, letters and photos.