Worldcon 76 Spent Over $100K Defending Suit by Jon Del Arroz

Worldcon 76’s financial report to the DisCon III business meeting agenda shows that the 2018 Worldcon incurred another $91,565.00 of legal fees this past year defending the suit brought by author Jon Del Arroz. And the cumulative cost? “Counsel has recommended we not go into deep money talk about the case, but I can say we spent well over $100K,” says Chair Kevin Roche.

Worldcon 76 and Del Arroz announced in June 2021 they had settled the suit shortly before it was scheduled to go to trial. Del Arroz had sued San Francisco Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon 76) for banning him from the 2018 convention held in San Jose, and for statements made in the public announcement of that decision. An earlier court decision had disposed of all grounds for the suit except one. “At the end, the only claim which would have gone forward to trial was the ‘defamation as racist’ claim,” said Roche. “The other claims had already been tossed in our favor (including the defamation as ‘bully’ claim; the judge found we had adequate evidence to support that statement).”

Roche adds, “Court costs are not normally recoverable in such a case. The amount for which we settled was less than half the cost of one day at trial. Note: by cost of one day at trial I’m referring to SFSFC’s costs, not JDAs. I don’t know what his lawyer’s rates were.”

Del Arroz’ attorney, Peter Sean Bradley, told File 770 after the case settled that he had provided his services pro bono. “I did not charge Mr. Del Arroz anything for my services. There was a contingency fee retainer agreement but I took the case with no expectation of being paid on this case since it was not likely that the defendant had any assets (other than its trademark.) When we ascertained that defendant had not acquired insurance with the usual coverage for defamation, those expectations were confirmed.”

The settlement called for Worldcon 76 to pay JDA $4,000 in damages, which they paid before the settlement was announced, and to issue an apology, which was published simultaneously with the announcement.

Roche concludes: “As everyone has noted, the big lesson: If you are banning someone for CoC violations and must state so publicly, RESIST the urge to detail the violations.”

10 thoughts on “Worldcon 76 Spent Over $100K Defending Suit by Jon Del Arroz

  1. A close friend is involved in a situation at their church where a member of the congregation was expelled, for good cause. Other members of the congregation are upset, and insist on knowing the details about the expulsion. I have sent them this link to help them explain the need to keep the details confidential.

  2. I am unsurprised by the amount Worldcon 76 had to shell out for legal fees, etc. A couple of years ago, I spent around seven grand in legal fees for a simple, uncontested transfer of a trust fund from one trustee to another (I had good reason for this, which I do not care to go into). To paraphrase Clausewitz: in law, even the simplest things are expensive.

  3. My father was a very successful trial attorney and he had a saying: “Suffer any insult, any injury, before going to trial.” I suppose the exception to that is if you have a free lawyer.

  4. I’m sure that’ll be a fun story for JDA to relate at all the conventions he’s invited as GOH for the rest of his life. I guess the important thing was to send a message to his tens of supporters in various alt-right grifter movements that he’s officially not racist.

  5. Well, it’s not like he’s yukking it up on Twitter, evading a permaban… oh wait.

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