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A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge ordered Yahoo! to disclose whether it turned over private emails of Dr. Jorge Mendia – a prominent OB-GYN and former council member – to an attorney who claims she was defamed in a letter to the editor where the word “nefarious” was used.

The Dec. 6 order came as a result of Jennifer Allegra’s court filing to discover the identity of the mysterious “Paul Nichols,” who wrote letters to the editor to the Islander News.

“We do not know what Yahoo! turned over to Jennifer Allegra,” said Mendia’s attorney Alejandro Rodriguez on Friday. The Court ordered Yahoo! to provide an affidavit identifying what it produced.”

Mendia’s attorney stated in a Nov. 17 motion that the doctor was indeed “Paul Nichols” and asked the judge to dismiss Allegra case, or provide an order of protection for the doctor’s private emails. 

“Based on its face, it’s seeking content information of electronic messages, which is not permitted under the (federal) Stored Communications Act,” Rodriguez argued at a Dec. 1 hearing, according to a transcript obtained by the Independent.

“It’s broad and it seeks all emails for a three-year period of time, which is totally unnecessary to determine the identity of someone which they already know.”

The judge agreed he’d dismiss the case once Mendia filed a sworn statement confirming he was indeed “Paul Nichols.”

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On Friday, Allegra posted that statement to social media, but said nothing about whether Yahoo! had given her any of the doctor’s emails.  Allegra did not return text or email requests for comment but she did post on social media that “likely, a lawsuit will follow,” referring to her contention that one of Mendia’s letters to the editor defamed her. 

Mendia served on the Village Council from 2002 to 2010. He is also on the board of directors for the Key Biscayne Community Foundation.

Allegra is an attorney who lists her employer on the Florida Bar website as Orlando-based Conroy Simberg. She ran unsuccessfully for Village Council in 2020. She frequently assails public officials and private individuals – as well as this publication – on public social media, often with ad hominem insults.

Allegra claimed in a May 2022 court filing a “Paul Nichols” letter published in the Islander News  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.”

Judge Jose Rodriguez in July 2022 ordered that AOL’s owner, Yahoo!, turn over account information associated with “Paul Nichols.” Allegra amended her information request in Oct. 2022 to include Mendia’s AOL account. 

Mendia, concerned about the content of his emails, intervened in November 2022 in saying he was “Paul Nichols” – though there was little mystery at that point.

The identity of the letter writer became somewhat of a running joke on Key Biscayne. After Allegra filed her demand for information, some residents sported “Hi. I’m Paul Nichols?” t-shirts.

At the Dec. 1 hearing, Rodriguez, Mendia’s attorney,  argued  Allegra’s request was moot and should be dismissed. “It’s just a fishing expedition – it can’t substitute for a proper lawsuit on which discovery is sought against a party,”  he said. 

Allegra in August sued Bill Stephens, a resident of her condominium for defamation. She claimed in her complaint Stephens “accused her of being an alcoholic” in a social media chat accessible to residents of the Gardens of Key Biscayne. 

Stephens’ home insurer settled the case in October for an undisclosed amount. 

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.