As young staffers for various South Bay Labor Council-backed candidates and office-holders, Rolando Bonilla and Ryan Ford learned a little bit about winning ugly. Recently, they also learned a bit about losing—and they just received another painful lesson.
Following the lead of the SBLC-affiliated Bob Brownstein, Ford and Bonilla have helped turn local Democratic politics into a pretty nasty game. So it wasn’t a big surprise when, minutes after striking out on their own as political consultants, the pair slapped fellow Democratic poli-con Jay Rosenthal with a lawsuit.
Granted, Rosenthal had picked the fight: He registered the web domain “fordandbonilla.com,” and linked it to a YouTube video of Ford angrily barking in the face of Aaron Resendez (one of the nicest men in local politics).
When Ford and Bonilla called him on the prank, Rosenthal offered to hand the domain over—and also offered to reimburse them for the complaint-filing fee of $1,300. But the newbie consultants demanded to be paid an additional fee of $125 per hour for 25 hours they said they spent filing the complaint. (Somehow, they totalled those figures and arrived at the sum of $4,125—shorting themselves by $400—but that didn’t matter in the end.)
Rosenthal responded by having his attorney, Josh Cohen, draft a drop-dead letter. Pointing out that the threat of a lawsuit was “premised on a basic misunderstanding of the law,” Cohen goes on to quote from ICANN rules governing domain-name disputes, applicable case law, and a California statute spelling out the futility of their claim: “[U]nless and until [the plaintiff] becomes a member of the Bar, his time and energy are not compensable in the legal marketplace.”
As it turns out, Cohen may have been right about Team Ford-and- Bonilla’s lack of legal expertise. Bonilla, who spent three years in law school, had recently flunked the bar exam.
Last week, the court dismissed the case with a cursory one-sentence ruling.