I’ve been threatened with lawsuits dozens of times, particularly since I started a business in a spare bedroom office in early 1993 that explicitly went head-to-head with collection law firms (swimming with sharks, I liked to call it), in order to work out settlements on claims involving failure to pay trade debts. In other words: small, undercapitalized businesses get into financial troubles and they use vendors as their banks, in order to buy time and supply.
Happens all the time and often enough, many of the vendors aren’t that much better off; or they’re worse off, which is why they extend credit terms beyond what they ought. Essentially, both are often using inordinate amounts of time, energy, and money throwing good money, time, and effort after bad, and spent costs, all over having being scared and then got dumb.
My job was to help.
Thing is, if you can just get everyone to work out the debt, get over themselves a little, settle up, wise up, and drop the hubris, entitlement, and moral superiority, then you’ll find that survival can and often does happen…because people are then liberated to go focus on what they need to work on: productivity, costs, marketing, or otherwise, to preserve their concerns…as well as the job preservation of sometimes a dozen or a few employees they often care so deeply about it’ll make them cry in anguish.
So, my business was to run cover with the collection, paper-mill “law offices.” This is not the law you see practiced on TV, or in the news…high powered stuff, where lawyers bill $400+ per hour and way on up, and 6 figures get reached in days. (I once hired Loeb & Loeb, ex CA-Governor Gray Davis’ firm, for a CA Attorney General Investigation. That bill got to $250K pretty quick, but stakes were high, and CA went away without even a whimper. Hey, ante up or don’t, but if you do, you at least have to call bets and at that level, spending any less would have been an utter waste of money.)
A more typical deal was this starving lawyer in Gilroy, CA, who wore nice suits and drove a beat up, 10-yr-old BMW 3-Series. He went off on my mom—who I’d rescued from a home, childcare business…finding she was neither intimidated by asshole business clients, collection companies, nor collection lawyers (she’d put up with the likes of me and 3 brothers for 2-3 decades). She was my first and last employee, with dozens in-between. …And at max of 30 at a time that for a few years, she oversaw an important part in—the Settlement Department. “War” with banks, collection companies, and collection lawyers every day (and when we’d gone consumer, and had 2,000 clients). She was managing a team achieving settlement monthly of $1-2 million in debt, for an average of 35 cents on the dollar in bad debts—where after all the sharks come feed, average recovery was running 5%.
But back then, with Gilroy Man, it was still just her & I—me, still working from a bedroom and her, from a kitchen table, and he was so incensed that a non-lawyer would have the temerity to place a call to his manufactured home to talk settlement number, that he went off on a campaign to add both my mother and I—as defendants—to a collection complaint by his client, against my own, in the total amount of $4,500. It was over some lumber goods our client didn’t have the funds to pay for at the time.
Long story short, I got pounded with service of various 3″ stacks of paper about three times. I wrote something like a 5-10 page opposition to his motion pro se, stood in court table-to-table (even on behalf on my mom, technically no-no, but judge allowed it), and argued my opposition to the judge, and he denied the other guy’s motion. Thing is, on legal grounds alone, adding other defendants to an already filed complaint is pretty Carte Blanche. But he was being ridiculous in the context of the case. Basically, it was an eye-roll from the judge.
Essentially, the other guy missed an important distinction: attorney-in-fact vs. attorney-at-law.
That was very early on, and I’ve never had the slightest fear over threats of litigation since. I have a Fat Sharpie. I got in the habit of replying to threatening letters in Sharpie, right across the face (“Go Fuck Yourself,” basically) and faxing them back so all the girls in the office could giggle.
This is a guy who hasn’t transitioned from adolescence to adulthood. The whole dynamic here is an adult talking to a snot-nosed adolescent. I experienced this most recently on a dating site where I treated a 32-year-old woman as a peer, told her exactly what I thought, and she threw a temper tantrum. Naturally that encouraged me to antagonize her teenage ego, partially for kicks and partially to see if I could break through and get an adult on the line. Making me the “pompous ass” and all the other things teenagers say about adults.
A topic that interests me is how to help someone make the transition to adulthood. Unfortunately I’m acutely aware that shitting on them doesn’t do much good, as fun as it can be for someone like me who loves trading barbs.
To Richard’s credit, he’s telling the guy exactly how to fix the situation like an adult. Giving him the steps to “socially calibrate”: Don’t hand out advice like a fucking know-it-all, don’t ever make idle threats, learn how to eat a shit sandwich and apologize.
Yea, you pretty much nail it for me, Hugh.
I’m so fucking tired of victims who have to have their status affirmed and confirmed. I want to shed light on assailants and how morally bankrupt and uncreative and brutish they are.
I’ve taken heat for writing about the battery I sustained in the bar from another, because, essentially, I scoffed at his wife’s insistence that there’s such a thing as “Mexican meteorology” and she’s the community’s “interpreter.” But in the end, if anyone cares to check, I used my “victim” status to spank the community on their bare butts, and I did so with such accumen that they all stear very clear of me.
But if the message sank into a few minds, particularly young ones listening to their parents talk, then it’s worth it.
They know how to look shit up themselves, so they can understand early that their partents are mostly dumb robots spouting shit they were told, and repeating it for community high 5s.
So, with that motivation I decided that my deliberation had come to an end with this, and so I wrote Justin Blok:
Well, I gave it two days and nights of further consideration. I’ve also had the benefit of input via comments in that post linked above.
There are two principal issues for me. On the one hand, I’m no grudge holder, nor am I vindictive in the sense I’d want to see someone’s fuckup I rightfully exploited follow and haunt him or her forever, if I deem that the message has been sent and they might think better next time. I do not hold anyone to standards of perfection, nor do I scheme for “paychecks” over quotidian human failings.
On the other hand, this whole line, with me taking due consideration and reaching out—not over fear of litigation, but an honest assessment that the truth of a matter now long past may hamper you (though not unjustly…merely inconveniently)—is met with hubris on your part: “You take it down immediately and this is over,” as though another Facebook threat from you made me quiver. So you have to try and snatch a victory out of it.
I don’t think you have a case. While the outcome of litigation is always unpredictable, any doubts I may harbor are far outweighed by my knowledge of the actual law and brushing up a bit. You’ll have a huge problem showing that my title of a post was not merely my interpretation and opinion of what I quoted from you and clearly labelled a “veiled threat.” Moreover, it will not be enough to show you were denied employment, then blithely create some association with the title of my post. You have an absolute burden of proving damages, and that will essentially entail having an HR rep testify that the title of my post was the substantial cause of you not being hired, and not other mal or dis-qualifications, or those more qualified, or the fact that you’re Cali420King.
I don’t feel I need to shove this in your face, but you really challenge my sense of restraint and charity when not in the heat of a battle.
Accordingly, this will be my last communication in the matter until I get a preliminary letter from your attorney. My email is on the About page of my blog. That letter will be answered in scrawled Sharpie (guess how), and faxed for the office to have a laf. Not the first time I’ve done this. And once I’m served your complaint, you’ll have a formal answer, followed by pages of interrogatories, plus subpoenas for depositions, following by various pre-trial motions, such as for dismissal due lack of having an actual case.
In the meantime, the original post and all subsequent posts remain fully published and whatever Google does with them is up to Google.
He now get’s to do what he wants. …He regularly shows up in my various Internet channels with the comment: “Just checking in, I think you’re a puss.”
Wonder what he thinks in his darkest, most honest moments, now.