Dr. Jorge Mendia, a well-known OB-GYN on the island, wants a judge to stop Yahoo! from turning over email information in a potential defamation court action being pursued by one-time Village Council candidate Jennifer Allegra, who claims she was smeared by a mysterious letter writer.
A July 15, 2021 letter to the editor to the Islander News written by a “Paul Nichols” asserted that Allegra and a handful of other residents were responsible for a record number of public records requests to the Village of Key Biscayne.
Dr. Mendia’s motion seeks a protective order prohibiting Yahoo from providing any information associated with his own AOL account. There is as yet no evidence Mendia is connected to the Nichols letter other than a statement made by Allegra’s former attorney in open court in the summer of 2022.
Allegra ran unsuccessfully for Village Council in 2020.
Nichols has yet to be identified but frequently appeared in the newspaper as a letter writer. The Islander turned over the e-mail address of the person purporting to be Nichols.
Miami County Circuit Judge Jose Rodriguez in July 2022 ordered that Yahoo! must turn over the AOL account information associated with Paul Nichols. Yahoo! owns AOL.
In a court document filed in October, Allegra demanded all documents and evidence associated with AOL email accounts of Nichols and Mendia.
Mendia had no comment on Monday. He previously said he has no idea the person behind the name Paul Nichols, which appears to be a pen name.
Judge Rodriguez previously ordered Justo Rey, the publisher of the Islander News to testify, and gave the green light for Allegra to obtain depositions of other Islander employees to ascertain the identity of Nichols.
Allegra, an attorney, filed an amended “bill of discovery” that reiterated that the letter to the editor made “various defamatory statements,” including that her public records requests were “nefarious,” that she fabricated conspiracy theories and that she had been “conspiring with other named individuals.”
Allegra did not return a phone call, text or email seeking comment. Her attorney, Jose-Trelles Herrera, said he doesn’t comment to the press during pending litigation.
In a separate case, Allegra accused Key Biscayne resident Bill Stephens of defamation in a lawsuit filed in March. The lawsuit was settled on Tuesday, according to Allegra’s attorney David Pollack. He did not disclose the amount.
Allegra claimed in court papers Stephens accused her of “being an alcoholic” in a group chat accessible to her residents at her condominium complex.
Stephens is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Key Biscayne pension plan.
Stephens denied Allegra’s allegations and filed a motion to dismiss the case.
“It’s just very sad this would happen,” said Stephens, who added he was being defended by his homeowners property liability insurance company.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that parties in Allegra’s defamation lawsuit against Bill Stephens have settled.