Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2009 Issue

<i>In The News:</i> Crime and Lawsuits

Cookcountycourt

Dismissed for want of prosecution.


By Michael Stillman

A couple of the more notable cases involving books and bookselling have been delayed or deleted. The case of Raymond Scott, of Durham, England, was postponed until August when his attorney informed the court that Mr. Scott was in the hospital, recovering from an unspecified operation. Scott is the gentleman who walked into the Folger Library in Washington last year with a copy of a Shakespeare First Folio he said he wished to have authenticated on behalf of a Cuban owner. Instead, the Folger's expert identified it as being the copy stolen from the Durham University Library a decade ago. Scott, a most colorful, high-living playboy, denies the accuracy of the expert's identification, and sticks to his story that it belonged to the family of his Cuban girlfriend. Rather than seeking to hide, Scott has sought out publicity for the past year, making the most of, not to mention extending, his 15 minutes of fame. However, it now appears that authorities have further complicated his situation by leveling theft charges over a few other items, such as credit cards and a driver's license, found when his home was searched after the initial charge.

The case of E Baron Auction vs. Sandra Efroni appears to have quietly faded away. That was the case where an eBay seller took his customer to court for posting negative feedback. Efroni had purchased a couple of cheap medallions from E Baron, and felt both should have a case (just one did), the shipping was too expensive, and the seller had taken too long to repost the items after an earlier listing. However, all of these were clear to the buyer before she placed her bid. In other words, there was nothing deceptive in the seller's listing, but the buyer still did not approve of his business practices. Is this grounds for negative feedback? Ms. Efroni thought so, Baron thought not. Ebay is unclear on this point. E Baron took her to court in his home state of Illinois, not at all convenient for the reportedly out-of-work California resident.

For months, this case was postponed in the Cook County Circuit Court. Finally, on the latest hearing date, June 10, 2009, the court announced the case has been dismissed for want of prosecution. The parties can now return to buying and selling, though it is doubtful either has benefited from this whole episode, either financially or in terms of reputation. Meanwhile, the glaring hole in eBay's feedback system, that allows buyers to post damaging, possibly unfair negative comments, with sellers having no means to explain, remains unfilled.

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