Nelson Mandela’s (and Lenny Bruce’s, and Vaclav Havel’s) Old Lawyer to Defend Park Slope Baristas in Gorilla Coffee Law Suit

12/01/2010 11:46 AM |

Nelson Mandela

  • Also defended by Martin Garbus.

So. In case you missed it, Park Slope coffee destination, Gorilla Coffee, faced a full staff walkout last April because of “a perpetually malicious, hostile, and demeaning work environment that was not only unhealthy, but also, as our actions have clearly shown, unworkable.” At least according to the letter they nailed taped to the door of the establishment. The letter was then reprinted by the NY Times, prompting Gorilla Coffee owners Darleen Scherer and Carol McLaughlin to sue that publication (along with some of the aggrieved baristas) for defamation, an asshole move that kind of underlines the initial claims of the letter. Nice!

Enter world famous free speech lawyer Martin Garbus, who has represented the likes of, oh, you know, Nelson Mandela, Andrei Sakharov, Václav Havel, Samuel Beckett, Lenny Bruce and Al Pacino. Garbus will be defending the baristas (and, specifically, Times reporter Oliver Strand) and he seems fightin’ mad:

Retaliatory, anti-speech lawsuits like the one from Gorilla Coffee have the potential to both harm innocent people who choose to speak out and chill the speech of others who would like to make their voices heard. This lawsuit is without merit and will be defended vigorously until victory.

Moral authority, Garbus haz it.

And as the Brooklyn Paper mentions, the original suit doesn’t mention what was specifically defamatory about the letter, but rather claims Gorilla Coffee “sustained a loss of reputation and a decline in business” (though clearly no one has alerted Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift of the need to boycott).

So, way to go Gorilla Coffee, your ongoing attempt to mend your reputation is really working out well! (Mandela and Havel! Friends of your enemy!)