I was always raised to believe that lawyers were very smart people, after all, to be able to spend so many years in law school and pass the bar... it's an impressive feat, and I'm happy to say that it has been true for all of those I've known personally. I'm sad to say though that from time to time I see a case here and there of lawyers who don't seem to be well grounded in reality... and at least one person at Dozier Internet Law, P.C....a Mr. Donald E. Morris, Esq seems to fit that bill.
Apparently, his client DirectBuy was unhappy with some reviews of their company on infomercialscams.com and rather than work to professionally solve the issues... they sent the owner of the site a cease and desist letter... and probably the least professional I've seen... and I've seen a few (only two directed at me directly however).
While points one and two of what they demand seem pretty straight forward and normal:
1. Immediately remove from all of your websites all defamatory and disparaging remarks regarding our client made by you and your visitors, and
2. Immediately cease and desist in publishing defamatory statements about our client, whether the statements are made by you or third parties, and
It's #3 which I'm forced to wonder about:
3. Compensate our client for its attorney fees and costs
Since when do you demand legal fees in the first threatening letter? Isn't that usually reserved until letter 3 or 4 where you say "this is your last chance, your very last and absolutely final chance... after we give you a couple more... if you do not comply with our perfectly reasonable demands... we will add court and attorney fees to the list of things we will be suing you for... whenever we get around to doing so."
As sad as it is that some companies think this a legitimate way to deal with angry customers... there is just something about a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) or even a threat of suit that just makes me smile.
Of course... one that ends with this just makes it so much better:
Please be aware that this letter is copyrighted by our law firm, and you are not authorized to republish this in any manner. Use of this letter in a posting, in full or in part, will subject you to further legal causes of action.
Well hot damn... I think I just violated their copyright as well... and of course for such threats to be meaningful... they have to be willing to make good on them.
With that said... I hereby demand that you Mr. Morris immediately file a copyright infringement suit against Mr. Leonard in this matter and name me as a co-defendant for my blatant disregard for your copyrights in my reproduction of parts of your letter that is marked as "for negotiation and settlement purposes only," not to mention hosting a full copy of it here, as well as all other persons and groups who reproduced, hosted, discussed, read or thought about any part of this letter.
This blog post puts you on notice that should you refuse to comply with our demands by October 15, 2007, I will have no choice but to recommend that the blogosphere pursue all legal causes of action, including the further reproductions of your letter, to protect its interests and that of all free people in this country who may wish to express an opinion you or your client may not agree with.
On a side note... I'm forced to wonder if any law schools out there spend some time discussing SLAPP suits and recommend that their students once out in the real world caution their clients against them because no matter how well intended they might be... they have this funny way of backfiring.
More info can be found on the Consumer Law & Policy Blog, as well as their response to Mr Morris.
Truly a Digg worthy case.
Read the complete post at http://ihatelinux.blogspot.com/2007/10/don-forget-to-sue-me-too.html