Deflecting Criticism 1 – Legal Threats

So you’ve got some sweet deal going – might be alternative medicine, might be hi-fi tweaks. Whatever it is, some twat of a journalist or blogger is pointing out holes in your scientific arguments and suggesting that your product is not as good as you say. This could be a threat to your income stream. What do you do?

The best thing would be if the person concerned were silenced permanently. No I don’t mean kill him; who do you think I am, Tony Soprano? If the person concerned is based in the UK, silencing can be achieved by means of that country’s plaintiff-friendly libel laws. Sometimes all it takes is a legal letter to the writer and they will fold. Most people don’t have the £100,000 or more needed to defend a libel claim. In the case of bloggers, you could also threaten the blog’s hosting company with legal action if they do not shut the blog down. Joseph Obi made excellent use of this tactic to silence Quackometer’s criticism of his humble and ethical business.

A word to the wise: use real lawyers. Here are a couple of examples of emails sent to Andy Lewis of Quackometer:

Le Canard Noir / Andy Lewis,

I represent the Burzynski Clinic, Burzynski Research Institute, and Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. It has been brought to our attention that you have content on your websites http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2011/11/the-false-hope-of-the-burzynski-clinic.html that is in violation of multiple laws.

Please allow this correspondence to serve as notice to you that you published libelous and defamatory information. This correspondence constitutes a demand that you immediately cease and desist in your actions defaming and libeling my clients.

Please be advised that my clients consider the content of your posting to be legally actionable under numerous legal causes of action, including but not limited to: defamation Libel, defamation per se, and tortious interference with business contracts and business relationships. The information you assert in your article is factually incorrect, and posted with either actual knowledge, or reckless disregard for its falsity.

The various terms you use in your article connote dishonesty, untrustworthiness, illegality, and fraud. You, maliciously with the intent to harm my clients and to destroy his business, state information which is wholly without support, and which damages my clients’ reputations in the community. The purpose of your posting is to create in the public the belief that my clients are disreputable, are engaged in on-going criminal activity, and must be avoided by the public.

You have a right to freedom of speech, and you have a right to voice your opinion, but you do not have the right to post libelous statements regardless if you think its your opinion or not. You are highly aware of defamation laws. You actually wrote an article about defamation on your site. In addition, I have information linking you to a network of individuals that disseminate false information. So the courts will apparently see the context of your article, and your act as Malicious. You have multiple third parties that viewed and commented on your article, which clearly makes this matter defamation libel. Once I obtain a subpoena for your personal information, I will not settle this case with you. Shut the article down IMMEDIATELY.
GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY.
Regards,
Marc Stephens
Burzynski Clinic
9432 Katy Freeway
Houston, Texas 77055

and

FINAL NOTICE TO CEASE AND DESIST

I am not here to grade your article, or play games with you. You fully understand what you’re doing, which is why you are trying to hide behind your so-called “opinion”. You have a history of lying in your articles since 2008. All articles and videos posted from your little network are being forwarded to local authorities, as well as local counsel. It is your responsibility to understand when you brake[sic] the law. I am only obligated to show you in court. I am giving you final warning to shut the article down. The days of no one pursuing you is over. Quackwatch, Ratbags, and the rest of you Skeptics days are numbered.

So, since you have a history of being stubborn, you better spend the rest of the day researching the word Fraud, you better do full research on the relationship of Dr. Saul Green and Emprise, Inc., and you better do full research on Stephen Barrett who is not licensed, or ever was licensed. So his medical opinion is void, which I am sure you are fully aware of his court cases. So your so-called opinion means nothing when this is disclosed in court, and by law you must prove your statements are true. Your source of information are all frauds, and none are medical doctors. You being apart of the same network makes you guilty, in the eyes of the jurors.

Be smart and considerate for your family and new child, and shut the article down..Immediately

You are still accountable for Re-publishing false information, and disseminating false information. None of the previous attorneys that contacted you about defamation had documented history in the courts. We have well documented history which is on record with the court, which is available to the public. So, when I present to the juror that my client and his cancer treatment has went up against 5 Grand Juries which involved the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Aetna Life Insurance, Emprise, Inc., Texas State Medical Board, and the United States Government, and was found not guilty in all 5 cases, you will wish you never wrote your article. In addition, my client has treated multiple cancer patients around the world, which is fully documented by the FDA, NCI, and Kurume University School of Medicine in Japan, and has finished Phase II clinical trials with FDA approval to move forward with Phase III. I suggest you spend more time with your new child then posting lies and false information on the internet that will eventually get you sued, which will hurt you financially. I am going to pursue you at the highest extent of the law.

If you had no history of lying, and if you were not apart of a fraud network I would take the time to explain your article word for word, but you already know what defamation is. I’ve already recorded all of your articles from previous years as well as legal notice sent by other attorneys for different matters. As I mentioned, I am not playing games with you. You have a history of being stubborn which will play right into my hands. Be smart and considerate for your family and new child, and shut the article down..Immediately. FINAL WARNING.
Regards,
Marc Stephens

Note the unlawerly language, ranty accusations and errors in spelling & grammar. There are also inaccurate statements about a third party which the recipient can check for himself. Someone receiving the above missives might come to the conclusion that Marc Stephens is not a lawyer and indeed a search for him on the website of the Texas Bar Association draws a blank.

Your target may conclude from this that either you lack confidence in the veracity of your statements or that you cannot afford a real lawyer. It is very bad for them to come to this conclusion because they and others will just start repeating the damaging allegations about your business. So – real lawyers only.

Sometimes, even if you have engaged a proper lawyer, your target refuses to cave in. If you do nothing now, you look weak and other bloggers will dive in for the kill. So, you sue. This can have short term benefits; the first edition of Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science omitted a chapter on Matthias Rath due to his ongoing libel action against Goldacre and the Guardian. This was good in the short term but Rath went on to lose his claim which resulted in lots of bad publicity and the suppressed chapter spurting out all over the Net.

The above may lead you to the conclusion that the risks of the legal route are too great but keeping silent is not an option as this may lead your customers to believe that your critic is correct. You cannot have that so later posts will examine other options available to you.

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2 Responses to “Deflecting Criticism 1 – Legal Threats”

  1. deetee Says:

    Stevens’ screed of tripe contained more red arrows than a seaside air display.

  2. A Brief Guide To Deflecting Criticism « Stuff And Nonsense Says:

    [...] JQH is part way through a series of posts on deflecting criticism. Part One. Part Two. Rate this: Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditEmailFacebookTwitterLike this:Like4 bloggers [...]

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