Another scene of the drama involving American David Goldman and his son Sean who was taken from by the mother when the boy was 4 to live in Brazil unfolded in a Brazilian court. Goldman won a lawsuit in which the Brazilian family wanted money for all the American’s alleged badmouthing about them.
Sean’s stepfather, Brazilian João Paulo Lins e Silva, a very rich and famous lawyer and his father, Paulo Malta Lins e Silva, also a lawyer, had filed a lawsuit against Goldman asking for compensation for moral damages. A Rio court denied the request.
The decision, which can still be appealed, was taken by Rio de Janeiro’s 13th Civil Court. The plaintiffs were sentenced to pay court costs plus attorney’s fees fixed in 20% of the cause’s value.
In the lawsuit the Lins e Silvas argued the “good image of the lawyers” was damaged by the “irresponsible and inappropriate behavior” of Goldman, who “did all he could to make the lives of the authors into a real hell.” They complained Goldman had called Sean’s Brazilian family kidnappers.
Sean family in Brazil said also that the website maintained by Goldman Bring Sean Home hurts does harm to the Lins e Silvas’ honor with its “clear intention of collecting money.”
The lawsuit text supports the argument that the Bring Sean Home campaign made by Goldman and his friends on the Internet was a direct and aggressive attack against the Lins e Silva family and Brazil’s whole justice institution.
Father and son also say that Goldman’s campaign to get his son back ended up harming their legal career. Paulo Lins e Silva noted that the organizers of a conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, canceled his participation as a speaker after he appeared in the news.
Goldman’s defense argued that the site Bring Sean Home was not created by him but by friends who were touched by his struggle to get his son back to the United States. On the interviews to the press, the defense argued that the authors didn’t present any content that could prove the “violation of honor.”
In its decision the court observed that there is no evidence that Goldman’s campaign had anything to do with the cancellation. Judge Ledir Dias de Araújo said that most likely the reason was that Lins e Silva was considered as someone who lacked exemption to make a speech since he was experiencing in his own life a theme he was going to discuss.
Araújo also wrote that “much of the manifestations expressed by the defendant (David) were legal decisions. Thus, they are not random events or personal opinions, but based on sources. As for moral damage, this is the human suffering, pain, sorrow, sadness unfairly imposed on others.” All in all Goldman was just exercising his freedom of expression.
The judge concluded that she had not seen any practice of the defendant that might have caused moral damage to the authors, since the American didn’t commit any illegal actions capable of offending the morals of the authors, having only exercised his right to express himself, without any excess.