The Escapist Lawsuit: Russ Pitts Claims That Deleting Tweets Wasn’t Destroying Evidence
Russ Pitts

Additional court documents have been made available for public perusal courtesy of Robert B. Marks, who is suing Enthusiast Gaming after Russ Pitts made disparaging remarks about past staff and the community of The Escapist, claiming that the site courted and fostered a recruiting ground for the Alt-Right and Nazis. In the documents it’s revealed that Enthusiast Gaming is attempting to strike out certain statements that were made about Pitts’ previous history of alleged employee intimidation and harassment, as well as defending Pitts’ purge of thousands of tweets by claiming that it was not spoiling evidence.

The documents were made available through Google, but were collated through a Medium post by Robert B. Marks published on February 6th, 2019.

In one of the documents, the lawyers representing Enthusiast Gaming attempt to get a motion dismissed to prevent Pitts from attempting to “spoliate evidence”. Marks wanted to prevent Enthusiast Gaming or Christian “Russ Pitts” Fletcher from further deleting anymore tweets or applicable evidence for the defamation suit.

In the factum relating to the 60,000 deleted tweets, the defense lawyers attempted to explain away why Pitts had to delete the tweets, stating…

“Since Russ Pitts was about to resume his position as Editor of The Escapist, those with political views different from his could resurrect his old tweets out of context, and use them against him in a distorted way not relevant to the intended new direction of The Escapist.

 

“[…] Russ Pitts did not want opponents of the new direction of The Escapist to have access to such intensely personal tweets as those about his depression from a decade earlier or showing pictures of his pets.”

These claims were directly challenged in additional court documents made available for public perusal.

In Marks’ January 29th, 2019 affidavit, he explained…

“I find Mr. Fletcher’s claims in his affidavit that he deleted his Twitter history to prevent private tweets, particularly tweets about his depression and pictures of his pets, to be highly suspect, considering that on January 28, 2019, I was able to locate tweets from Mr. Fletcher in which he discussed his mental health and posted pictures of his pets. […]”

On page 32 of the motion factum, it also goes over the motives of Pitts deleting his tweets, where it states…

“The most recent tweet in which Mr. Fletcher posted a photo of one of his pets was posted only three days prior to his affidavit in which he claimed that he had deleted his twitter history in part to prevent people from misusing pictures of his pets.

 

“Considering the falseness of Mr. Fletcher’s statements of why he deleted his twitter history, and the testimony of Joshua Vanderwall as to Mr. Fletcher’s frequent attacks against him and The Escapist in social media, it is also likely that the testimony of when he deleted his twitter history is a false statement, with no other possible purpose than the intentional destruction of evidence for the purpose of
affecting this, and any other potential defamation litigation.”

If you go over the motion factum, it’s not made clear exactly when Pitts deleted the 60,000 tweets. It only states that they were deleted in the “middle of 2018”.

The defense lawyers for Enthusiast Gaming also requested to have sections 13 – 24 in Robert B. Mark’s December 17th, 2018 reply struck from proceedings. What were those sections specifically? Well, they’re part of a section entitled “Malicious Pattern of Behaviour of Christian Russell Fletcher, alias Russ Pitts”, where it details the alleged employee harassment and acts of alleged malice from Pitts toward cohorts while he was at The Escapist, as detailed in the article published on One Angry Gamer back on December 17th, 2018.

The reason for having the comments struck is because in motion to strike the paragraphs, it states…

“The defendant relies on Rule 25.11 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The allegations in the paragraphs are scandalous, frivolous or vexatious. They are irrelevant in the sense that, even if proved, they could have no effect on the outcome of the action.”

It’s explained in Marks’ factum that the sections explain motivation of malice by Pitts, as well as a pattern of behavior.

In the motion factum it also breaks down some of the common sense questions and some of the missing facts in Pitts’ previous disparaging statements about The Escapist and its staff. For instance, Pitts never explains how he knew about the articles or behind-the-scenes workings of who was being hired/fired or editorial control relating to The Escapist during the period where he claimed that it was courting the “Alt-Right” if he nor his wife, Susan Arendt, were working at The Escapist.

What’s interesting is that on page 3 of the motion relating to the “spoilation of evidence”, we get some small insight into why Pitts was brazen enough to make the comments he did about The Escapist and its staff, where it’s stated that he didn’t expect a defamation suit to take place because it wouldn’t have “got off the ground” had it taken place in the United States…

“I had no concern with respect to being sued by former publishers or editors of The Escapist. They are based in the United States, where the law of defamation is such that a lawsuit like the present one would not even have got off the ground. The onus on a plaintiff in a defamation action in the United States is much heavier than the onus in Canada (from what I observe from the present action).”

In a way, the entire claim about The Escapist being a “recruitment tool” for Nazis completely falls apart when the only thing Pitts had to go on was what was publicly facing visitors, since he had no access at all to the editorial control or how articles were being pitched or shape by the editors or management. What he didn’t count on was that the defamatory comments about prior staff of The Escapist would be challenged in Canadian court.

Nevertheless, Marks notes in his Medium piece that the latest developments in the lawsuit will finally be heard on February 8th, 2019, this upcoming Friday. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and how the court will respond, especially since Enthusiast Gaming still has not made any effort to negotiate for the time being.

(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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