Chechen immigrants file $105-million libel suit against Michele McPhee, news outlets

UPDATE: Lawsuit dismissed.

A Chelsea family who claims reporter Michele McPhee ruined their lives by linking them to Dzokhar Tsarnaev and Islamic jihadists after the Boston Marathon bombings has sued McPhee, media outlets that picked up her account and a noted Islamaphobe in federal court.

In the lawsuit, filed this week in US District Court in Boston, the Umarov family is seeking $5 million in compensation and another $100 million in punitive damages from the defendants, who also include ABC News, the New York Daily News, the UK's Daily Mail and Pamela Geller.

At issues is a report McPhee did for ABC News almost a year after the Marathon bombings, in which she cited unnamed federal sources as being concerned about the family's alleged links to Dzokhar Tsarnaev and to Islamic jihad.

Family members say it's all untrue and that since the article's publication - and the appearance of reports based on it elsewhere - the family has been unable to move on with their lives or get jobs, because the articles are the first things that show up in online searches on the family name.

Upon learning of the bombing and discovering the identity of the bombers, the Umarovs contacted the Chelsea Police Department. They met with the Chief ofPolice, Brian Kyes, to offer any assistance they could with the investigation.

Soon afterward, the FBI contacted Hawa and asked to speak with the entire family. The FBI requested their cooperation with the investigation, and the Umarovs agreed.

The Umarovs traveled to Chechnya as planned.

While in Chechnya, Heda met a man, and with approval ofher parents, stayed in Chechnya to pursue a relationship with him.

In the fall of 2013, McPhee began coming to the Umarovs' residence and demanding interviews.

The Umarovs refused all of her demands on the advice of the FBI.

McPhee continued coming to the Umarovs' residence at all hours of day and night, ringing the bell, harassing all persons coming into or out of the building, and shouting through the Umarovs' door to them.

McPhee told Hamzat that if he did not give an interview, he would be "sorry," or words to that effect.

Hamzat continued to decline an interview.

McPhee then traveled to Adam and Junes' school, MCLA, in North Adams, three hours away. After hearing of her behavior toward the rest of their family, the brothers felt it necessary to leave school while she was there.

The suit says that the Heda Umarov was not friends with the younger Tsarnaev and that she did not set up the Russian social-media page McPhee cited as showing jihadists with guns - that Heda Umarov is a common name in the Caucasus. And the man Heda was interested in dumped her because of the articles.

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Comments

Poor badge monkey Michelle

Her tongue was up the collective rear end of the BPD and SP until they couldn't take the beard chafe anymore and arrested her for drunk driving.

Now this?

She is gonna need another drink.

Leave the keys at home this time Michelle.

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What a stalker!

Seriously - they said "no" and she needed to eff off of harassing them.

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Good to see Geller get sued, too

You only have so much latitude to run your mouth in a free society before you cause damage that needs to be paid for.

Geller crosses that line all the time, and it will be fun to watch her try the pathetic "but it was parody" defense or "but I just read it somewhere else" nonsense that all egregious bullies seem to pull when called on their b.s.

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Yes, this is awesome

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I hope there will be a major punitive damages award that gets the attention of a lot of grossly irresponsible 'news' outlets. Without chilling real journalists (who know who they are).

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Bowl of popcorn for me.

"Geller crosses that line all the time, and it will be fun to watch her try the pathetic "but it was parody" defense or "but I just read it somewhere else" nonsense that all egregious bullies seem to pull when called on their b.s."

Am I the only one here that actually read the ABC article AG linked to? It didn't seem like irresponsible reporting, but then I'm no real journalist. It refers to "now, sources said, the FBI has been monitoring Heda Umarova's apparent Internet posts recently, which include depictions of Chechen jihadis brandishing weapons and a photo-shopped image of a U.S. passport in a carry-on bag bearing the black flag of jihad."
"Heda and her brothers did not respond to multiple attempts by ABC News to reach them through their parents and social media to comment on the sources' allegations. "

So, attempts by ABC News...like when reporters are camped out on your doorstep. Look at the deep pockets that are named in the lawsuit. It will be interesting to see the Umarovs prove their case.

Interesting thing about the internet...it's really lousy at forgetting.

As far as Pamela Geller, well, ya, an 'art show' crossed the line. I remember it well.
"Piss Christ". I remember the Christians that showed up with AK47 semis to kill the blasphemers. Oh, no, that didn't happen. The millionettes showed up to proclaim how cool the art was.

That's right, it was Texas where the radical Islamic Jihadists showed up...and died. Hey, at least they got what they wanted.

Most importantly, remember, if you can't attack the story, attack the person behind the story.

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No means no

When the family repeatedly refused to comment -- they say on advice from the FBI -- the news orgs had no cause to camp on their doorstep or stalk their children at college, regardless of what "sources said." The public has a right to know what government agencies do. The public does not have a right to know what private citizens do in their private lives, unless those actions are criminal.

If the allegations in this suit are confirmed, the people and organizations responsible should definitely pay for it.

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Saying Heda posted that page

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Saying Heda posted that page and throwing accusations of her psoting Jihadis brandishing weapons is just that an accusation. I hope Umrovs win and maybe just maybe these journalists will be responsible for their lousy lies.

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"Journalism"

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Somebody give McPhee a high-five..with a steel chair. This is what happens when you lack integrity as a journalist and a human being (drunk driver,much?).

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Heda Umarov is a common name?

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Heda Umarov is a common name? Really? See that makes me somewhat doubtful of their claims.

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I am

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And the only Umarov I can think of is Dokka Umarov, who makes the Tsarnaev brothers look like innocent little angels.

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Умаров is a Slavic surname,

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Умаров is a Slavic surname, -ov + in this case the Arabic name Omar/Umar (عمر‎), which is fairly common among Muslims. So for Chechens, this might be as common as "Johnson" or something.

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That's a pretty ignorant

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That's a pretty ignorant statement. Are you going to claim that Park, Lee, and Kim aren't common names in Korea as well?

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We are not in Chechnya.

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We are not in Chechnya. Surely you see the point being made.

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Are you ignoring context and

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Are you ignoring context and language?

If two "John Smith"s move to Chechnya, it doesn't change the fact that "John Smith" is a common (English) name.
If two "Heda Umarov"s live in the US, it doesn't change the fact that "Heda Umarov" is a common (Chechen) name.

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So can you then explain why

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So can you then explain why that was relevant to include in the article? Just a random irrelevant fact?

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Are you kidding?

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Read the article. This is a crucial fact that the family wishes people in this country to know. The alarming posts made by someone named Heda Umarov were not the work of THIS Heda Umarov. Of course it's relevant that the first name Heda and the surname Umarov are both very common in Chechnya.

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story time with anon

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Maybe someone can sit down with anon and read the article with him/her/it sentence by sentence and help with the whole comprehension thing.

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McPhee may win without

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McPhee may win without lifting a finger. Court already ordered the case to be dismissed on Feb. 19 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs have till then to get their act together and show why it belongs in federal court or out the door it goes.

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It's an electronic order

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It's an electronic order entered on Pacer on 2/11. Here's a copy & paste of it

District Judge Leo T. Sorokin: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered. Based on the complaint filed by the Plaintiffs, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction due to a lack of diversity. Unless Plaintiffs establish the Court's subject matter jurisdiction over this action by a supplemental submission due no later than February 19, 2016, the Court will DISMISS this action for lack of jurisdiction. In the event Plaintiffs make a submission, Plaintiffs must also show cause as to the basis for Hamzat Umarov, a non-lawyer, to file pleadings on behalf of other parties, in this case the other plaintiffs. Finally, in any event, Attorney McMahon shall, by February 19, 2016, show cause (a) as to on what basis he signs pleadings when he is not attorney of record and (b) his good faith basis for asserting diversity jurisdiction in the "complaint drafted" by Attorney McMahon when the complaint itself alleges both that the plaintiffs and at least one defendant are residents of Massachusetts. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11. re 1 Complaint filed by HAWA UMAROV, JUNES UMAROV, HEDA UMAROV, ADAM UMAROV, HAMZAT UMAROV, ( Show Cause Response due by 2/19/2016)(Simeone, Maria) Modified on 2/12/2016- mailed cert # 6566 and 6542 (Simeone, Maria). (Entered: 02/11/2016)

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Thanks

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For some reason, when I checked after seeing your first note, I could see an order had been issued, but the docket number wasn't linked.

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Whatever happened to McPhee

Whatever happened to McPhee after last years' incident with the State Police? Has she gone to court? Will she do time? Has that black eye healed?

A quick look at her twitter feed reveals that she's back to her badge bunny ways. Her faux-outrage over Obama is some weak shit...she'll never be Dana Loesch.

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