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Anyone been threatened with a frivolous lawsuit?
centrifugal




msg:787519
 8:25 am on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't need actual legal advice, only personal experiences.

I suppose anyone has been in business long enough and deals with enough people, s/he, no matter how a reuptable and ethical businessperson, gets threatened with a lawsuit for a frivolous/unfounded/untrue reason.

Some clients are just emotionally imbalanced and will say anything to get your attention. But does anyone here have any experience with getting sued frivolously, unfairly? Do frivolous lawsuits get thrown out immediately?

People with enough money and an irrational grudge- are they dangerous to innocent individual businessmen or small companies?

 

Essex_boy




msg:787520
 12:15 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

One firm I worked for was in court with a client for a breach of contract he lied to the judge about further problems he was having we us.

The judge believed him despite the fact we could prove that he was lieing the judge awarded him several 1000's in compensation.

Fast forward several years - same guy was threatened with contempt of court becasue he was harrasssing a judge in chambers.

This individual is well known in the area as a basket case.

Lord Majestic




msg:787521
 12:47 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

despite the fact we could prove that he was lieing the judge awarded him several 1000's in compensation.

Did you appeal then, or just preferred to avoid costs of going to (presumably) High Court?

photocartoonist




msg:787522
 2:36 am on Oct 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've been threatened a couple of times by people I have photographed. In one case, an attorney sent me a letter but as soon as I sent a copy of the signed release, end of story.

I cross my Ts and dot my Is when it comes to doing business and it has protected me again and again.

Essex_boy




msg:787523
 6:02 pm on Oct 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

No we didnt appeal due to the cost involved it was cheaper to pay and hold a grudge which costs nothing.

Up shot was, around 8 months later he signed over his property rights to his girlfriend, 24 hours later she kicked him out (must have planned this) and he came back begging us to destroy the documents, as we had the originals and hadnt processed them. Anybody else and we may have considered it.

Telling him to go away was the most pleasing moment in all my working life. The entire office fell about laughing. End result, he was classed as intentionally homeless and not eligable for state help.

Still makes me laugh now.

dickbaker




msg:787524
 9:41 pm on Oct 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

In the early 90's, there was an internationally-known photographer whose work centered on a technique he'd refined. I liked the look, and worked at figuring out how he did it. Once I had it down, I started using the technique in my own photography and got a lot of work out of it.

A year or so later, I got sued for copyright infringement, trademark infringement...in short, anything his attorneys could think of.

I supplied my attorney with books from the 1920's that explained how to do this technique, albeit in a less high-tech way.

This photographer was calling every client I had in my state, threatening to sue them if they used my services.

So, my attorney threatened to sue the guy for restraint of trade. He also made the move to have the case heard in my state, which is 1500 miles away from where this other photographer was located.

It didn't take long before the photographer backed down. By then, though, a lot of damage had been done, as some of those clients he threatened still wouldn't work with me.

mifi601




msg:787525
 10:24 pm on Oct 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

It actually happened to me over a website I did for a small community. Some members of that village got upset becaus ethey thought I was stepping on the guy with 'THE' website's feet. They did threaten sue, blah, blah, I had to contact lawyers, spend a lot of money that I was not making etct etc.

The upshot? FREE PR. the site got reviewd by everybody in the community and a lot of people simply liked it and started to advertise and keep doing so.

Some people still hold grudges, but they are the ones that are not getting any traffic from me - paid or otherwise :)

chicagohh




msg:787526
 3:31 pm on Oct 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I currently have 2 threats.

1 - Our former CPA. We only used him for 3 visits and then dumped him because he just kept asking for more information without ever providing us what we asked for. Basically, he seemed to be stringing us along... Sevral weeks ago we received a letter from his attorney demanding $1600 for his services. We even paid a $300 deposit making his 3 visits worth $1900. It is actually worse as the first visit was a free consultation. To date, we have never received anything from this leech except bills.

2 - A large international company that we purchase products from went through a software update late last year. We were billed for items they never shipped to the tune of $7500. We asked for the tracking # and signature and they provided one for a different shipment - shipment B. We tell them that was for B and show them proof - they say our proof was for shipment C. It goes on and on... We finally did a chargeback. We both provided all the information that we each had to the merchant bank. They decided in our favor (duh).
We thought it was over until we were contacted by their attorneys. Yep, we're being sued! It will probably cost us as much as they claim we owe just to fight this immoral lawsuit.

I think anyone in business for a while will have threats of lawsuits or will actually end up in court. Either someone is trying to take your money or your trying to collect money owed yourself. It is just the nature of business.

ddesign




msg:787527
 5:23 pm on Oct 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Some clients are just emotionally imbalanced and will say anything to get your attention

I can't agree more!

Something similar happened to me early this year - [webmasterworld.com...]

A client suddenly backed out of a $3000 web project, and for reasons COMPLETELY UNKNOWN to me, after a month of not being able to get ahold of the client, one day 'out of the blue' I got an e-mail that said 'My attorney will be contacting you shortly.'!

I was sick I lost my money, but my attorney said that small claims court costs would be $5-10,000 and it just wouldn't be worth it.

beckie




msg:787528
 6:39 pm on Oct 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I cannot believe how some people think that they can get out of their debt by sending a "I'm taking you to court because..." letter/email. I also cannot believe that the recipients of these letters/emails will actually do nothing about it because they are too scared of the outcome. If the balance is high enough, I would fight for it.

I just received one the other day from a client who was past due for a maintenance project. It's funny what this guy was accusing me of since I have all the emails to back up the real truth. If he takes me to court (he's in TX, I'm in MI), then so be it. I'm not going to lose sleep over it when I know the judge will just throw the case out.

I don't care how small your business is, it's at risk of frivolous lawsuits. I would really recommend on getting business insurance - it depends on how much you make, but the cost is only a few hundred a year. I would also recommend talking to a lawyer that can give you advice on protecting your assets.

bmcgee




msg:787529
 6:58 pm on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

There are different levels of "business insurance". What most of us are probably most interested in is the "errors and omissions" insurance.

E&O will cost more in the line of $2-3K, for $1,000,000 coverage at $500,000 per incident.

The insurance costing a couple hundred dollars per year is probably only to insure you against injuries on your confines, fire, theft, etc.

beckie




msg:787530
 11:54 pm on Oct 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Oops - you are absolutely right about the cost, bmcgee. I just added on the Errors and Omissions coverage a few months ago.

aboyd




msg:787531
 6:26 pm on Oct 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi centrifugal. I had a bad run-in with barratry, and asked for some help.

For me, the basic gist was: be concerned, but be as legalistic as they are. The second someone "lawyers up" you do too. No more talking except through lawyers. No more intimidation, no more grace-period, no more exceptions -- they demand something, they have to give a solid legal basis for it. Once I fought back in that regard, the problem just died. Basically, I said: "you keep hinting at legal threats. So fine, instead of appealing to human courtesy, you can appeal to case law. If you want to talk to me anymore, get a lawyer."

I still got nasty little messages from them, but nothing came from a lawyer, so all their messages were left unanswered. Eventually, they gave up. It was all a bluff. If it hadn't been a bluff, I was ready to do whatever I had to in order to comply with the law, but nothing more.

[edited by: stuntdubl at 12:34 pm (utc) on Oct. 29, 2004]
[edit reason] No urls, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]

aboyd




msg:787532
 5:50 pm on Oct 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Never mind. I noticed in the TOS we're not even allowed to discuss how mods apply the TOS. I'm outta here.

asinah




msg:787533
 3:45 am on Nov 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

We received a couple of weeks an email from a lawyer in Canada for potential copyright and trademark violations that happned on one of our websites.
He represented a large publishing group in Canada.

However the lawyers informed us that if we would make a small change on our website, they would be happy to close this matter. After we made the changes, we were informed that the Canadian publishing company made it clear that they actually liked our website and wished us good luck.

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