Del Arroz Files Suit Against Worldcon 76

Jon Del Arroz filed suit on April 16 against the 2018 Worldcon and other defendants in San Joaquin Superior Court asking damages for claimed violations of his civil rights under California’s Unruh act, and for defamation.

The named defendants are:

San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc., aka Worldcon 76, David W. Gallagher (2019), President; David W. Clark (2020), Vice President; Lisa Deutsch Harrigan (2020), Treasurer; Kevin Standlee (2018), Sceretary; Sandra Childress (2019); Bruce Farr (2018), Chair; 2018 SMOF Con Committee; Cheryl Morgan (2020); Kevin Roche (2018), Chair; 2018 Worldcon (Worldcon 76) Committee; Cindy Scott (2018); Randy Smith (2019), Chair; New Zealand 2020 Worldcon Agent Committee; Lori Buschbaum; Susie Rodriguez and DOES 1 through 30, inclusive.

Del Arroz is represented by attorney Peter Sean Bradley.

The first 23 paragraphs of the Complaint lay out the history of Del Arroz’ banning by Worldcon 76 from his point of view, and allegations that he was banned because he is a Republican and Trump supporter.

Several of the causes of action quote from Worldcon 76’s announcement banning Del Arroz from the con, which said in part:

We have taken this step because he has made it clear that he fully intends to break our code of conduct. Worldcon 76 strives to be an inclusive place in fandom, as difficult as that can be, and racist and bullying behavior is not acceptable at our Worldcon. This expulsion is one step toward eliminating such behavior and was not taken lightly….

Repeated reference is also made to the committee’s email telling him he would not be allowed to attend, sent by Lori Buschbaum, the Incident Response Team area head. It is quoted in the Complaint as saying:

Jonathan, At this time we are converting your membership to Worldcon 76 to a supporting membership as you will not be permitted to attend the convention. On your personal blog you have made it clear that you are both expecting and planning on engendering a hostile environment which we do not allow, If you are found on the premises of the convention center or any of the official convention hotels you will be removed, Your payment of $50 covers the cost of your supporting membership in its entirety, and you have no balance owing. As a supporting member your nomination and voting rights for the Hugo Awards and site selection are maintained. If you prefer a full refund that can be arranged.

The Complaint outlines five causes of action, and in most cases leaves the requested damages to be determined at trial.

First cause of action: Violation of Civil Code Section 51 (Unruh Act)

28. …Under the Unruh Act, a business establishment may not discriminate against any person based on a personal characteristic representing a trait, condition, decision, or choice fundamental to that person’s identity, beliefs and self-definition as that factor has been applied in previous cases. …The protection of the Unrush Act extends to political affiliation….

30. Mr. Del Arroz was discriminated against in violation of the Unruh Act in that he has been banned from attending Worldcon 76 based upon his political affiliation and political beliefs….

Del Arroz claims lost sales and emotional distress as a result.

Second cause of action: Violation of Civil Code Section 51.5

This is a law against various forms of discrimination on account of characteristics such as “political affiliation.”

The Complaint says:

39. WorldCon 76 is a business establishment in that it holds itself out as open to the public without restriction and is using public facilities and engaging in public commcerce.

40. SFSF discriminated against, boycotted or blacklisted, or refused to contract with or sell to Mr. Del Arroz by refusing to sell him an attending membership because of his political affiliation and political beliefs. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the other named Defendants aided or incited this unlawful conduct.

Third cause of action: Violation of Civil Code Section 51.7

The Complaint alleges violations of the law’s protection against “violence, or intimidation by threat of violence” because of a political affiliation (or other arbitrary discrimination).

The Complaint says:

49. On Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 5:01 p.m., Mr. Del Arroz received an email from Lori Buschbaum, who identified herself as the “Incident Response Team area head” for Worldcon 76 which stated in relevant part: “If you are found on the premises of the convention center or any of the official convention hotels you will be removed.” This statement constituted intimidation by threat of violence against Mr. Del Arroz because of his political affiliatuion in that Defendants and each of them threatened to have Mr. Del Arroz forced [sic] physically removed against his consent and acquiescence from locations he had a right to be in such as the lobby of a hotel. This threat was understood by Mr. Del Arroz to include violence in that Mr. Del Arroz had advised SFSFC of his concern about physical violence at WorldCon 76 and Mr. Arroz [sic] had been threatened with violence by members of SFSFC and individuals who had said they would be attending WorldCon 76 on social media maintained by SFSFC. At no time had SFSFC advised Mr. Del Arroz that he would be safe at WorldCon 76 and at no time did SFSFC make any effort to stop anyone from expressing a violent animus against Mr. Del Arroz on its social media sites.

Fourth cause of action Violation of Civil Code Section 52.1

After repeating verbatim paragraph 49 above, the Complaint alleges –

59. Mr. Del Arroz was threatened by SFSFC and Lori Buschbaum. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the remaining named Defendants aided or incited this conduct…. Individual Defendants and Does 1 through 30 aided, incited, authorized, ratified or conspired in the said discrimination, blacklisting, boycotting, and refusal to sell or contract with Mr. Arroz [sic] with respect to his purchase of an attending membership.

Fifth cause of action: Defamation.

Citing the January 2 email quoted above the Complaint alleges —

66. …Worldcon 76 never explained to him that anything he planned on doing would constitute a violation of any code of conduct. Mr. Del Arroz is informed and believes and thereon alleges that there is no such code of conduct. Further, Mr. Del Arroz is not a racist. Mr. Del Arroz has often made a point of condemning racism and proudly identifying his Hispanic heritage. Likewise, Mr. Del Arroz is not a bully. The statement that Mr. Del Arroz is a racist bully is false and SFSFC and its representatives knew t was false or made the statement with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the charge and with a malicious intent to injure Mr. Del Arroz or his reputation….

Financial damage is also claimed, likewise emotional distress. The Complaint also claims that the defendants —

were aware that they were threatening Mr. Del Arroz with physical violence in order to prevent him from exercising his important civil rights including the right of association and the right to use public property and the right to free and equal treatment by business establishments.

Del Arroz also wants court costs and attorney fees.

Below are copies of the documents filed with the court. The Complaint contains all the allegations and support,. The judge has scheduled the initial case management conference for October 15.

Update 04/16/18: Corrected the info under the Fourth Cause of Action.

333 thoughts on “Del Arroz Files Suit Against Worldcon 76

  1. I was surprised to find out that there are other people named Lorien Gray out there. But I’m not even the only one in Southern California. Or the only one that is a SF/F fan in Southern California that happened to attend the same Worldcon. But so far, all the other Loriens out there have been younger than I am, so I hold fast to the thought that I’m the original (in the U.S. at least). The pirated copy of LOTR: Return of the King was published in the U.S. in 1965 and I was born within that same year. The name Lorien appears in the appendices, which is where my father got the name.

  2. Paul Weimer: “I’m clearly the boring Paul Weimer.”

    Well Paul, I have to say that you’re not very good at being boring. 🙂

  3. @Contrarius: Speaking of Utah, my last name is rare – unless you go to Utah! This was fun/amusing for us as kids when our family did our driving tour out West one year. We’d check a phone book at a hotel or phone booth when we stopped anywhere in Utah – we knew to look* – and marvel and seeing so! many! ____s! when the only ones near us were my uncle and one unknown person.

    * We have family geneology books and knew to look for our last name in the phone book. Eons ago, someone in the family went to Utah and was fruitful and multiplied. So most of them are distant relatives. 🙂

    My first name is unusual and I’ve only found 2-3 other people with my first + last name combo on the ‘net. Add my middle initial, and I appear to be unique.

    Due to traditional wife-name-change-on-marriage patterns in the USA, though, searching for my first + last name finds my grandmother, too. (Kendall is a family name in my case.) Anyway, I don’t know if I’m related to the other Kendall ____s I found.

  4. As far as I can tell my first name/surname combo is unique in the UK, even before you factor in my middle name. My first name is fairly rare here, although less so in Wales (it’s a Welsh name), and my surname is moderately uncommon and English, which nixes the Welsh factor. But my middle name is fairly common, especially if you count all the various permutations (mine is a short version), and especially in my age group (there were three or four girls in my small Brownie pack with the long version), so there’s that.

    Could be worse. My grandmother’s maiden name is even rarer – there’s two families with it. And the other family pronounces it wrong! 😉

  5. Dear Soon Lee,

    That’s awfully cruel.

    Saying that Paul is not only boring but unsuccessful!


    pax / Ctein (exhibiting the same reading comprehension as our beloved PLA)

  6. Damn, Ctein, you hit that nail on the head (ugh, now the nail will be accusing me of inciting violence).

  7. As far as I know, I’m the only person with my particular name. My surname is not particularly common and most other people who share it are probably related to me in some way. And my first name is very uncommon in Germany.

    Though there was a German adult film star, who only went by “Sexy Cora”. For a while, I got a lot of hits on my website from search term combinations such as “German Cora sex”. A few years ago, the actress died due to a botched breast enlargement surgery and the searches eventually ceased.

  8. I am very proud of having caused the creation of all searches for “Mark kitteh”! Who would have thought that wouldn’t have come up till I started using it, what with the preponderance of both Marks and kittehs on the internet.

    @Glenn Glazer: Isn’t one of the other John Scalzis also a Florida meteorologist? This may be worth looking into.

    @Chad: Seems to be the difference between just Chad and being Chadwick.

    Also, we’ve learned that Paul’s boring and Cora’s sexy. Or not.

  9. When Google started, I was pretty much the only Bruce Albrecht who came up in searches for my name, and then for a while, most of the first page of searching was for a professor of meteorology in Florida. I’m sensing a conspiracy, folks!

    Currently, the most popular guy when I search for my name is a fertility doctor. or maybe an investment banker, and I think my first mention is down around # 75. Given the nature of the internet these days, I suspect that’s a good thing.

  10. I had the impression that Hitchcock is an old but thinly-spread name. (I’ve found only one other in fandom, plus one whose family took the name as a replacement for something even ruder.) However, Googling my legal name gets 2 ~local obits and an assortment of other cites.

    @Hampus: Eckerman is not that common and we actually spell it a bit different from the family branch I’m guessing that branch doesn’t spell it Egerman — it would be too Bergmannesque….

  11. Because of the spelling issues (At least 4 ways to spell Steven, and a ridiculous number to spell Schwartz) I’m almost un-googlable. 🙂 OTOH, I have been told by someone with a perfectly straight face that I looked very young to have written Godspell (Stephen Schwartz) and my name has caused consternation for people who had a low opinion of a member of Pacific northwestern fandom (whom I have never met, so there may be an exclusionary principle at work.)

    Given that I am regularly mistaken for other people for how I *look*, let alone my name, I am sometimes surprised I’ve held on to my identity — it should be fragmenting like a character in a Tim Powers novel. 🙂

  12. My full name is Julie McGalliard. As far as I know there’s only one other person on the planet with my name, and she’s an Australian fan.

    The “McJulie” handle goes back to college — we had two Julies in the SF group, so I was “McJulie” because everything was “Mc” (McNuggets, McMansions) back then. When I started using it, everybody understood it as a McDonalds reference, but when I was still using it years later, people often assumed it meant EMCEE Julie & that I was a DJ, which amuses me greatly.

  13. “I’m guessing that branch doesn’t spell it Egerman — it would be too Bergmannesque”

    This joke passed right over my head. I’m not very Bergman-educated, I’m afraid. No, it is spelled Ekerman if I remember correctly, at least it was 300 years ago.

  14. We often get our family name confused with that of Goethe’s secretary, Johann Peter Eckermann, but they aren’t related.

  15. I don’t know of any other Anne Shellers out there, but there may be some. They most likely wouldn’t be related to me; my father changed his name shortly before marrying my mother. She didn’t like his original surname, so he modified it slightly. The original was a German or Austrian surname, with possible spelling changes over several generations in Hungary. We once lived in a city with several other Sheller families, unrelated to us (well, we’re all related, but not to a traceable degree).

  16. We’ve also learned that if you’re a man who thinks you have a fairly unusual first and last name combo, there will be a meteorologist in Florida with it.

    Florida probably also has any number of Ste(v|ph)en S(c)hwar(t)z’es.

  17. Back in the early 90s when I was accessing the internet at large via a local dial-up BBS and a text-only interface, mostly usenet, I did an internet search on my name for the very first time and was alarmed to see the following caption describing a bitmap in some usenet group: “Nicole LeBoeuf and [male name I didn’t recognize]!!!”

    I was in high school and very new to all things internet, but adapting quickly. So of course my first thought was OMG SOMEONE HAS NABBED A PICTURE OF ME AND PASTED IT INTO SOME PR0N!!!

    So I downloaded all the bits of the bitmap, then I downloaded a program for putting the bits together, and I applied the one to the other, and finally I could see what the heck this picture was. It turned out to be some gal I didn’t recognize posing for a picture with some guy who it turns out was a musician in a band she was a fan of. Like you do. (If I remember correctly, the band was Gravity Kills.) [Emily Litella]Ohhhh. Nevermind.[/Emily Litella]

    We probably were related. I’m told most every LeBoeuf out there can trace their name back to the same family that got kicked out of Canada with the rest of the Acadians. Even Shia’s probably a distant relative, since he also gets the name via Cajun extraction, though I maintain he spells it wrong.

    There is a journalist in Canada by the name of Patricia LeBoeuf who followed me on twitter on, I presume, the strength of the shared name. She retweets news of interest.

    I have yet to come across another LeBoeuf who married into, and hyphenated with, the name Little. But the world is full of wonders, also LeBoeufs and Littles, so it’s only a matter of time.

  18. Rare first name (Bret) very rare last name (Grandrath), I’m the only one with the combination.
    And here is the SF related story about my name : years ago (might have been (LACon IV) Harry Harrison signed a copy of Stainless Steel Rat for me. I asked him to make it out to Bret with one “t”, he said “Of course, two t’s is for officers.”

  19. My wallet name is rare, but there is literally another person in Florida who wears it. Yet in 7th grade there were literally five people in one class with my first name.

  20. Back in the early days of the Internet my name was unique, but then there was a rugby player who got a fair bit of coverage (definitely not me!), and then a few others appeared, though they usually had middle initials, which my parents didn’t believe in (my brother reacted to this by giving his three kids middle names (even if one of them is a rather pretentious one which links the kids’ mothers’ family to the local Parliamentary commander in the English Civil War), and two of his three grandkids have two middle names).

    My problem’s always been that a) English people never hear my first name properly and think it’s something else (“Arnold” was popular at one stage); even when they do hear it, they can’t spell it and insist on using 2 ‘L’s – surely it’s no secret in Britain that Welsh ‘ll’ is pronounced completely differently from ‘l’? b) Even when they do see my name spelt, they can’t pronounce it properly (it’s a short ‘a’ and you need to put some effort into the ‘r’). Nowadays, on the rare occasions when I buy a coffee, I avoid the hassle by giving my name as “Dave” – after all we’ve got a TV channel in this country called Dave because “everyone knows someone called Dave”. I can only sympathise with my cousins’ son, whose name is Ll?r (damn, not sure if that comes out – the third letter (second letter if you go by Welsh standards and count ll separately from l) is y-circumflex) which is cognate to the Irish Laoghaire, or the Manx Lir, or Shakespeares’ King Lear (though it ain’t pronounced like that!); he’s avoided some of the problem by making his career in Wales….

  21. My mom was a Babbitt, and when the notorious book of the same name came out, my grandfather (Grandpa Kip) was sometime accused of being its model. I never met him, as our dates don’t overlap. He came along just after the time period covered by the Babbitt genealogy book I used to look at when we visited them. My cousin has the book now, and I’ve requested multiple times for him to copy out the pencil notes from it and send them to me. I found another copy of the book at Archive, and it tells me that all Babbitts in this country (USA) are pretty much related, except a very few who had the name stuck to them at Ellis Island because the clerk couldn’t deal with their real surname.

    So here we are in NY state, where we moved ten years ago. Within a year of coming here, I found the grave of a Babbitt from 1806 less than a mile from my house. The shallowly scribed surname could still be read when I first saw it, but now the red sandstone is encased in some kind of opaque stone rust encrustation. The town historian told me there were another couple of Babbitts living near the canal until the 70s. Yet another Babbitt comes to the Irish jam that I go to on Mondays, and he has a copy of the same genealogy.

    See also “World: Smallness of, after all.”

  22. @Hampus: Egerman is the lead male role in Smiles of a Summer Night — probably best known in various circles as the source for the Sondheim musical A Little Night Music (which has many good points but debases some of the original).

  23. Lurkertype: @Glenn Glazer: Isn’t one of the other John Scalzis also a Florida meteorologist? This may be worth looking into.

    Indeed. Sarasota to be precise: the other Scalzi.

    JJ: Lurkertype: Florida probably also has any number of Ste(v|ph)en S(c)hwar(t)z’es.

    The meteorologist of that name doesn’t live in Florida.

    Were I still going to conventions, I might try to get the three pairs of fen and their meteorologist namesakes to a con in Florida (Megacon?) for a group selfie with the meteorologist Schwartz as a definite stretch goal.

  24. There’s someone with my full legal maiden name living in Oklahoma (including the somewhat-rarer spelling of my middle name). I married into a very common last name, so my legal name is not-uncommon, but I don’t see any iterations of my First-Maiden-Last name on Google. But I’m actually rather shocked to find out that someone named Cassie [Maiden-name] — no relation that I know of — lives only about twenty miles from me. I thought for sure that combination was unique; my maiden name is not particularly common and my nickname (especially since I spell it correctly, with a Y) is very uncommon indeed. I never met another “Cass(ie/y)” until I was at least forty. In fact, I think the few Cassies that I’ve met since have uniformly been spelled with ie.

    (I have a friend whose daughter’s friend is named Cassie. This trips me up Every. Single. Time. Because on some deep level I know, beyond reason, that I’m the only Cassy in the world and therefore if someone mentions that name they’re talking about ME. “Wait, what? I’m not in a high school band….”)

  25. @Arwel —

    Nowadays, on the rare occasions when I buy a coffee, I avoid the hassle by giving my name as “Dave”

    I feel yer pain. I always give my last name in situations like this, because it is soooo annoying to have to explain to people first how to spell, and then how to pronounce, my first name Every Single Time. 😉

    @Nicole —

    I am cracking up a little bit about LeBoeuf, just because I read this story about True Grit and this review of the new Borg vs. McEnroe movie starring Shia only last night. It’s a LeBoeuf week!

  26. @Arwel & @Contrarius: At restaurants, I’ll give my other half’s name and he’s all, “That’s not your name!” (My response frequently is: “They asked for *A* name, not *MY* name.”) Even when alone and getting something that requires a name, I usually give his name.

    My name’s not tough to pronounce (though I’ve seen some odd-to-me misspellings), so you’d wonder why I do this! But somehow, people have managed to mangle or mis-transcribe or mishear it just enough in that sort of situation that it annoys me, so I figure it’s much simpler to just give a super-easy name. No one even blinks an eye when my credit card doesn’t match the first name I gave. 😉

  27. I get the “How do you spell your name?” thing too for my first name.

    Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that it is simply spelt the way it’s said. Nothing complicated or unusual. #itsatrap

  28. >Is there any consequence for filing a suit that does not go forward, either for some technical reason or because the plaintiff doesn’t pursue it? (I.e., do courts penalize people for wasting their time?)

    Because Jon is filing in CA, I would expect his suit would get a serious hearing. The state seems to take minority status, and especially Mexican heritage, fairly seriously. Events open to the public need to be careful about any appearance of discrimination.

  29. I’ve gotten Kipp, Skip, Kit, Kim, Kemp, Chris, and Kimp, among others. AARP just sent something to us with my name represented as Kyz, but I figure that’s more to do with Cathy’s handwriting on some form, coupled with a wider range of possible names in these here degenerate modern times.

  30. We’ve also learned that if you’re a man who thinks you have a fairly unusual first and last name combo, there will be a meteorologist in Florida with it.

    Well, as I said, I’m the only Ray Radlein, but… I did grow up in Tampa, and my sister Robin Radlein (probably the only person with that name ever) was a meteorologist, so there you go.

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