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K&L Gates acts as Co-Counsel for the Bayles Family in Cyberbullying Matters

30 October 2020

Sydney – Global law firm K&L Gates have had the privilege to act as pro bono legal co-counsel to Yarraka Bayles, on behalf of her son Quaden and the family, in a cyberbullying matter that has attracted national and international media attention. 

Working alongside co-counsel George Newhouse of the National Justice Project, lawyers from K&L Gates assisted in the digital crisis planning and response to the cyberbullying of Quaden and implemented a tax efficient structure to receive the funds raised through a U.S. GoFundMe campaign. 

The family's inspiring story of courage was captured in the ABC's Australian Story episode, About A Boy

Triumph over Trolls 

The K&L Gates team, comprising lawyers from the firm's Sydney, Melbourne and Chicago offices, assisted Quaden and Yarraka to remove a torrent of cyber racism across social media channels and advised on legal issues relating to copyright and compliance with 'community standards'. 

The K&L Gates team was led by special counsel Eric Boone, who commented: "Of the 120 [YouTube] videos that we had identified, we got about 106 taken down". 

"But with every step we found another platform that you then need to look at and upon doing that we saw this proliferation of fake and impostor accounts targeting the family with all kinds of defamatory, racist, harmful commentary." 

Our team used their in-depth knowledge of digital crisis management—a focus across K&L Gates global platform—and understanding of the 'cyber' landscape to quickly resolve issues in an area of law where there is often limited access to legal counsel and few viable legal options for recourse. 

Collaborating with Sefiani Communications, the team supported the Bayles family in shaping Quaden's message and developing a media strategy to correct the misinformation campaign waged by digital trolls. 

Boone was supported by a team that included partners Savannah Hardingham and Desiree Moore, special counsel Warwick Andersen, lawyers Bianca D'Angelo, Max Evans and Olivia O'Brien, and graduates Angell Jin and Annabel White. 

Read more about the unexpected challenges the team faced working with social media platforms to remove abusive content and their advice for controlling a social media storm. 

Using a GoFundMe campaign to donate money? More complicated than you think.

Quaden's story received significant media coverage and supporters rushed to his aid in many ways. Of the many donors, American Comedian Brad Williams set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a trip to a U.S. amusement park for Quaden and his family. The money raised exceeded expectations. However, many issues surfaced as a result of using the GoFundMe platform and in seeking to transfer funds from the U.S. to Australia.

The K&L Gates global tax team worked on identifying an efficient trust structure to receive funds raised through the GoFundMe campaign and the funds raised, together with funds from the settlement of the family's defamation lawsuit, were directed into the trust to assist with Quaden's ongoing care and maintenance.

The K&L Gates team led by partner Betsy-Ann Howe and lawyer Naeha Lal were able to negotiate the complex and unusual issues which arose in both the U.S. and Australia concerning the transmission of the funds and were ultimately able to achieve a great outcome for Quaden and his family. 

Read more about these complicated tax considerations with using crowdfunding platforms. 

K&L Gates for Equal Justice 

Earlier this year, the firm launched K&L Gates for Equal Justice, a joint initiative of the firm's diversity and pro bono committees aimed at harnessing the firm’s legal skills to promote unity and equal justice. The indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia are a priority community for the initiative in Australia. 

For more information about the Bayles family's experiences: 

•    ABC news article, 'Don't call me cute': Bullied boy with dwarfism Quaden Bayles and mum Yarraka share reality of going 'viral. 

If this content raises any issues for you, please visit Lifeline or call 13 11 14. 

K&L Gates is a fully integrated global law firm with lawyers located across five continents. The firm represents leading multinational corporations, growth and middle-market companies, capital markets participants and entrepreneurs in every major industry group as well as public sector entities, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations and individuals.

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