Cyber Trial Lawyer or Cyber Bully?
For the second time I received an email from CyberTrialLawyer.Com. The first email was a demand that I take down a web page about the Manchester Who’s Who in which I belittled the marketing tactic of Manchester Who’s Who as a scam. After I received the email, I added a note to the beginning of the article to let everyone know that my personal definition of the word "scam” may or may not apply depending on your definition of "scam"—but in my view of life, their method of acquiring business is scandalous.
The marketing tactic used on me was, in my opinion, dubious--and with the number of guestbook posts that others have posted to say the same... it appears that others share my opinion.
Today I received a second email from CyberTrialLawyer.Com with a drafted federal complaint against me for the article. This draft makes the claim that I am defaming the Cambridge Who’s Who company (which the Manchester Who’s Who is now a part of). As such, the draft complaint is asking for $2,000,000 in compensatory damages and another $5,000,000 in punitive damages.
Supposedly, this little article on my website is worth $7,000,000. Seven Million Dollars. Oh yeah… plus legal fees.
Is this lawyer smoking crack?
I know it is simply a ploy to scare me into taking down the web page. What’s sad is that these kind of lawyers can bully the public into caving in to businesses with enough money to pour onto the complaints. But the fact is that there is a freedom of speech that is built into the American fabric. If people couldn’t call out a business or public entity on their tactics, then there would be no freedom of speech.
If you are really concerned about protecting integrity, go after shady political advertisers who get paid for calling opponents slime bags. Don’t try to bully a little man who calls it as he sees it.
PS. The Who’s Who people could have dodged this whole bullet a long time ago by calling me up to apologize for their marketing tactic. But no… threatening lawsuits and millions of dollars in charges is their tactic. Hmmm…. That sounds really professional! Well part of me is a journalist... and journalists have a tendency to stick it to the man at times.
[Added Note] The lawyer hired by Cambridge Who's Who has now called me twice; he asked if we might not resolve the issue without litigation--I said I would be open to it if the company wants to make a public apology to the people who feel they are getting taken. Today (December 15, 2006) I was informed that the company would have none of that.
I will be talking to my lawyer about this issue soon. If within my legal rights, I will post a complete copy of the absurd charges that they are threatening to bring against me. According to their lawyer, I am not allowed to share any of that document with the public... if that is true, I will comply. But if not... the public can see how ridiculous their claim is and how a company is willing to walk all over the Consitutional freedom of speech by threatening to sue anyone who is a critic. The drafted complaint is full of irrelevant facts, broken logic and simply outrageous accusations.
If the company doesn't like my criticism, or the criticism of many others who feel the same... either ignore those criticisms or do something to change your methods that brought those criticisms.
[Added Note] This has now escalated to an actual law suit.
[Added Note - March 2008] The lawsuit has now been dropped. It was settled out of court. I am unable to give more details about the case due to a confidentiality agreement. I am also not going to post the copy of the charges like I intended to as written above. Please forgive me if I do not reply to inquiries about the case.