This is the future home on the worldwide web for Brian Vaeth for Mayor for Baltimore City 2020
BRIAN CHARLES VAETH
8225 Poplar Mill Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21236
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BALTIMORE COUNTY
FOR THE STATE OF MARYLAND

BRIAN CHARLES VAETH
8225 Poplar Mill Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21236
v.
RICHARD MADALENO
3720 Farragut Avenue
Third Floor
Kensington, Maryland 20895

COMPLAINT
(Jury Trial Requested)

Plaintiff Brian Charles Vaeth, alleging against the abovenamed defendant, avers on knowledge, information, and belief the following:

NATURE OF THE CASE

On June 7, 2018, Maryland State Senator Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery Co.) launched a highly controversial television commercial for his campaign for Governor for the State of Maryland. The commercial was purported to be related to his campaign. It was paid for and authorized by Marylanders for Madaleno-Jenkins, Linda Eisenstadt, Treasurer.

The commercial began with the defendant stating that he is, “Running for Governor to deliver progressive results and to stand up to Donald Trump.” Donald Trump, a Republican, is the 45th President of the United States, having lawfully assumed the office after defeating Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for the office. The defendant states ways in which he “already infuriates him. By “him”, plaintiff can only assume that the defendant is speaking about the President.

The defendant says that he protected Planned Parenthood from Republicans in Congress. A participant in the commercial says, “Take that Trump.”

He continues by stating that he banned Assault Weapons in Maryland. A child participant then says, “Take that NRA.” The defendant then states the he believes in public schools, not vouchers.” A child speaks and says, “Take that Trump” while another child states, “…and Betsy Devos.” A crowd of children that are behind the defendant shout, “Yeah.”
In the final scene of the commercial, the defendant asks the viewers, “And what’s the number one way that I piss of Donald Trump and the Republicans?” The defendant then turns and kisses another man who is reported to be the defendant’s husband.

The commercial ends by the defendant saying, “Take that Trump.”

By the end of that day, the ad and subsequent media attention caused it to go “viral” on the internet. The ad was reported by the Baltimore Sun and dozens of other news organizations including USA Today, CBS News, and the Daily Beast, just to name a few.
      
In response to the content of this purported campaign advertisement, that included an authority line as required by State law in association with Maryland elections, many citizens took to social media to express their opinions on this highly unusual campaign strategy.

Plaintiff was one such commenter. On his Twitter account, plaintiff opined the following:
“You can cross Madaleno off of the list of viable candidates for Governor. He went full retard. Never go full retard.”

Mr. Madaleno responded later that evening, “Years ago a young Marylander with Down syndrome named Rosa Marcellino worked very hard with her parents to officially remove the words “mentally retarded” from Maryland’s health and education codes.” The defendant, in another tweet said, “She became the inspiration for Rosa’s Law, a bill enacted in 2010 that changed references in federal law. Why @BVaeth253 would use such hurtful language is beyond comprehension. In another post defendant asked several people and organizations, “Won’t you join me in admonishing this degrading and disrespectful act? @Larry Hogan @RedMaryland @MDGOP @thearcMD @TASHtweet @AutismSpeaksDC @autselfadvocacy @MSEAeducators @mceanea.” As demonstrated above, plaintiff never used the term “mentally retarded.”

Support for Mr. Madaleno’s accusations came from several citizens that condemned the assumed “hurtful language” and “degrading” and “disrespectful act.”

Plaintiff did no such thing and rejects any assertion that his comments were based on any animus toward people with developmental disabilities. The issue of the defendant’s homosexuality was never mentioned, nor was the act that spurred other negative public comments that could be viewed as “hurtful, degrading and disgusting” toward homosexuals, or members of the LGBTQ community, but he has not called for the public condemnation of those individuals.

PARTIES

Plaintiff, Brian Vaeth is a 50-year-old resident of Baltimore County and the State of Maryland. He is a “person” within the meaning of the constitutions of the United States and the State of Maryland. As explained below, Plaintiff has been injured and risks further harm, as a result of the defendant’s illegal acts and omissions.

Defendant, Richard Madaleno is a resident of Montgomery County and the State of Maryland. He is member of the Maryland General Assembly, serving as a State Senator, and is a current candidate for the Office of Governor for the State of Maryland. He is a “person” and a “public figure” as provided for by Law.

ARGUMENT

This dispute falls on the “hurtful, degrading, and disrespectful” act perceived by the defendant that simply does not occur and was intended solely to promote the defendant’s animus toward Republicans and it was done with malice.

Plaintiff is a registered candidate for the office of the United States Senate and has suspended his campaign for that office, for several reasons, but most importantly it is due to a serious medical condition that his mother suffered and his desire to care for her needs. Plaintiff posted this fact across all social media platforms that he utilizes and on his campaign website. Plaintiff has also communicated to his supporters that he will be seeking the Office of Mayor for Baltimore City in the 2020 Presidential election.

As a citizen, plaintiff has the absolute right, protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article 40 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, to document the public performance of government officials and to criticize it, subject to certain restrictions. The categories of speech that fall outside of its protection are obscenity, child pornography, defamation, incitement to violence and true threats of violence. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized very few exceptions to the First Amendment.

To be sure, given the stigma that surrounds developmental disabilities and people with diminished mental capacity that prevents them from being treated fairly in society, using a term to describe someone as being “mentally retarded” is reprehensible. So much so, that it is Plaintiff’s belief that people that use such language should be condemned and are very much deserved of the public scorn that accompanies it. That is why the speech used should be highly scrutinized, as a result of the actions that come with the condemnation of a person using such speech. It must be examined to assess its true “hurtful, degrading” or otherwise “disgusting” sentiment. It cannot be perceived but must be communicated with particular malice directed at a person or a group and meant to disparage them as a result of their developmental disability or diminished mental capacity.
  
The defendant, by virtue of his position as an elected official and a Maryland State Senator, cannot be perceived to suffer from a diminished mental capacity. If defendant demonstrated such behavior, his colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly would have the authority to take action and deem him to suffer from a legislative disability that would prevent him from performing the duties of his office and by two-thirds vote of that body remove him from the General Assembly. That has not occurred.
 
To assess the malice perceived by defendant, the content of the political advertisement is central to that assessment because of the negative effects that the condemning act would have on the plaintiff. It must be taken seriously, and any action taken regarding it done so responsibly.

The defendant begins the ad by distinguishing himself as a progressive Democrat and a clear participant in the “resistance” movement by the left that opposes anything, and everything associated with President Donald J. Trump. By his own admission in the advertisement this fact cannot be disputed.

As a Republican voter, and a prospective Republican candidate for the Office of Mayor in Baltimore City in 2020, and former candidate for Governor of Maryland, plaintiff opposes any attempt by our legislators, both Democratic and Republican, to hinder the exercising of our protected rights under the United States and the Maryland Constitutions. Plaintiff sees the opposition to gun control, as his obligation as a Republican and is often openly critical of the agenda to hamper this right for law abiding citizens of the State of Maryland.

Plaintiff takes exception to defendant’s assertion that he banned “Assault Weapons” and then somehow blames the National Rifle Association for something that is not made clear in the ad. The National Rifle Association does not manufacture assault weapons, to the best of plaintiff’s knowledge and therefore, plaintiff rejects the notion, or any appearance defendant makes that National Rifle Association is somehow at fault for the staggering amount of gun violence that is occurring in the Unites States. Plaintiff is a resident of Baltimore County and travels daily into Baltimore City to conduct business. It is unnecessary to claim that plaintiff is unaware of this fact. However, plaintiff asserts that the second amendment right of citizens shall not be infringed and any effort to hamper it will only hinder the public’s ability to exercise their right. As aforementioned, a participant says, “Take that Trump” at the end of that segment.

Next, defendant takes issue with providing public school vouchers over public education that is administered by the State of Maryland. Plaintiff is in full support of defendant’s efforts to stop the issuance of school vouchers and provide better public education services to our children. The offense that plaintiff takes to the message is the use of children in that ad to direct his opposition to not only President Trump, but Mrs. Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education. 

In the last segment of the political ad, defendant then asserts that “the number one way he pisses Donald Trump and Republicans off” is by kissing another man. The advertisement then ends with the defendant’s campaign logo, asking voters to support him.

Plaintiff published on his Twitter account, a “tweet” in response to the advertisement. Plaintiff’s criticism of defendant’s message was focused on the fact that it did nothing to promote his being set apart from any of the other candidates that he is running against in the primary election for the Democratic nomination for Governor for Maryland set to occur in June of 2016 and solely for the purpose of attacking President Trump. As the information available to plaintiff does not indicate that Donald J. Trump is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor for Maryland and given the fact that the President cannot hold more than one elected office at any one particular time, or any other elected official for that matter, plaintiff reasonably expects this not to occur. Plaintiff’s criticism on this aspect is well founded but does not explain the usage of any perceived “hurtful, degrading” or otherwise “disgusting” sentiment that is so abhorrent to the defendant.

The “tweet” that plaintiff published to his account provided a link to the ad and the comment, “You can cross Madaleno off of the list of viable candidates for Governor. He went full retard. Never go full retard.” Plaintiff’s rebuke of defendant’s ad was focused on his anti-second amendment position, as it is a hindrance to the exercising of that right and for no other purpose. Gun control laws have had no effect on the amount of violence that is occurring wherein guns are used, as the lawless are not concerned with obeying the law, only law-abiding citizens obey it.

As aforementioned, defendant’s sexual preference was not made an issue by plaintiff. Due to the limited number of characters allowed on the Twitter platform, there wasn’t availability to add a detailed explanation of why plaintiff precisely opposes defendant’s position. It is plaintiff’s assertion that the word “retard” was not used in a “hurtful”, “degrading”, or otherwise “disrespectful” manner as evidenced by the mere definition of the word.

A “Google” search of the meaning of the word “Retard” results in the following:
Retard- (v) delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment.
“His progress was retarded by his limp.”
synonyms: delay, slow down, slow up, hold back, hold up, set back, postpone, put back, detain, decelerate, hinder, hamper, obstruct, inhibit, impede, check, restrain, restrict, trammel; literary stay.
“The process is retarded by bureaucratic red-tape.”
 Defendant took to Twitter and conjured up a scenario wherein plaintiff disparaged people with developmental disabilities or diminished mental capacity in his critiquing of the defendant’s ad in the use of the word “retard.” He called for the public condemnation of plaintiff by the Governor, a conservative media outlet Red Maryland, the Maryland GOP, the Maryland State Teacher’s Association, and several organizations that support people with disabilities in an effort to defame plaintiff with this libel.

While the term “mentally retarded” is offensive to most people, when describing the intellectual disabilities that affects millions of Americans and has been removed from the context of any description of those people, the word “retard” has not been subject to the same action. Defendant’s actions call for the condemnation of plaintiff for using the term “mentally retarded” when to be factual, plaintiff only used the word “retard.” Defendant inserted that term to falsely portray plaintiff’s criticism in a negative light and promote the false victimization of progressives by Republicans, who they actually hate, as defendant clearly states in the sentiments demonstrated in his advertisement.

Plaintiff is of the belief that it was defendant’s intent to target President Trump for his conservative values and the manner in which he is leading our nation, which is in total contrast to the progressive agenda that defendant supports. Defendant knew that support for President Trump would come swiftly, as it always does, and he was looking for a way to capitalize on it, only he jumped the gun.

Thousands of Marylanders took to social media and left voicemails criticizing defendant for the ad. One caller to his campaign office responded by saying, “Hey Richard, I’m a Maryland resident…I don’t want to see that faggot ass commercial on the TV, it’s disgusting. Seriously, take that shit down.” There was no request from defendant for the public condemnation of this caller. However, defendant took exception to a word used by plaintiff to demand the public condemnation of him and no one else. This is because plaintiff is a former Republican Gubernatorial candidate and a prospective Republican candidate for the Office of the Mayor for Baltimore City, and defendant can use it to call for others to condemn him and ridicule others who do not based upon their political affiliation, as Republicans.

Defamation of character falls into two categories: libel and slander. Libel is written and includes signs or pictures. Slander is oral and involves speech. A statement that is merely unflattering, annoying, embarrassing, or that hurts only the plaintiff’s feeling is not considered defamatory.

These are the elements necessary for plaintiff to succeed in this defamation claim against defendant in Maryland”
(1) that the defendant made a defamatory statement to a third person,
(2) that the statement was false,
(3) that the defendant was legally at fault in making the statement, and
(4) that the plaintiff thereby suffered harm.  
A defamatory statement is one ‘which tends to expose a person to public scorn, hatred, contempt or ridicule, thereby discouraging others in the community from having a good opinion of, or associating with, that person.’" Offen v. Brenner, 402 Md. 191, 935 A.2d 719 (2007), quoting Smith v. Danielczyk, 400 Md. 98, 115, 928 A.2d 795, 805 (2007).
Defendant communicated the defaming libelous statement to his followers and other users of Twitter, a public forum accessed by millions of people with the intent of subjecting plaintiff to public condemnation.

Defendant asserted that plaintiff used “hurtful”, “degrading, or otherwise “disrespectful” language and that assertion was false.

Defendant is legally at fault due to the public condemnation he requested of Plaintiff, void of any attempt by defendant to ascertain any facts prior to publishing the defaming statement to millions of people across a public forum.

Plaintiff has suffered harm to his reputation, and will continue to suffer harm to his reputation, as evidenced by the comments of Twitter account holders on that forum, which has led to it being shared on other user’s pages and on other social media sites on the internet, as well.

CONCLUSION

As it was defendant’s sole intent to target President Trump and Republicans, by his very own admission, to solicit any defense of President Trump from his supporters that he could use to raise awareness to his woefully underperforming campaign by defaming them for a perceived offense that simply did not occur, and by evidence of the advertisement not appearing as a campaign ad, but a personal message to President Donald Trump, defendant, with actual malice, embarked upon an unlawful course of conduct to defame Republicans for personal gain. The personal gain defendant is seeking is the Office of the Governor for the State of Maryland. The ad served no purpose to advance his platform, which was already widely known amongst Maryland voters.

Due to the malice demonstrated by defendant, plaintiff demands the following relief:

$1 million dollars in compensatory damages in direct damages plaintiff’s reputation is currently subject to,

$10 million dollars in punitive damages for future injury that plaintiff will be subject to, and

Any additional damages as ordered by the Court.

Respectfully,
 
 
 
Brian Charles Vaeth
8225 Poplar Mill Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21236