Is There A Class Action I Can Join Against Legal Marketing Spammers?

Irksome, Law Practice, Technology

SueEasy, despite the name, is not a woman of loose morals.  No, Sue Easy is a legal affiliate marketing site to which a number of law firms that specialize in filing class actions subscribe.  A matchmaker, if you will, between people who may have suffered trivial damages not worthy of an individualized suit, and the lawyers who want to aggregate their claims into big contingent fee payouts.

Sue Easy promises potential plaintiffs that it will help them:

TAKE THE POWER BACK!

And further promises them:

INSTANT LEGAL BLISS!

Sue Easy desribes itself thus:

SueEasy is an online application where you can file your complaints in a variety of legal categories.

For attorneys, Sue Easy promises to help them connect to clients through the power of "social networking" sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

I've had a number of concerns about Sue Easy since I discovered it earlier this week.

First, its marketing is deceptive, at least to the potential plaintiffs if not attorneys.  Sue Easy is not an online application where you can "file" "complaints" in a variety of "legal" categories.  These terms have very specific meanings.  "Filing" of a "complaint" means the the act of submitting a lawsuit to the clerk of a court, which brings the lawsuit into existence.  Any attorney knows that, but many laypeople do not.  A layman registering with Sue Easy may be lulled into believing that by typing his grief into a chatbox, he has "filed a complaint," meaning that he has sued the parties who caused his misfortune, when nothing could be further from the truth.  The only "online applications" that allow "filing of complaints," in the real sense, are federal PACER and similar state electronic filing systems.

Does that sound far-fetched?  Surely no one could be so stupid as to believe that by registering with Sue Easy, he has filed a lawsuit?

Well, consider that actual class actions have been filed on behalf of people so stupid as to claim that they did not know that "Crunchberries" aren't real fruit, and on behalf of people so stupid that they needed a written warning to know that setting headphone volume too high can impair hearing.  In other words, people who lack common sense.  In the case of Sue Easy, someone is making promises about legal matters, which all lawyers know are entirely outside the realm of common sense.  You need specialized training to think like a lawyer.

If I were the sort of person who files plaintiff class actions, I'd be looking at Sue Easy as a big, fat target.

Second, and this is for the lawyers, consider what Sue Easy means when it says it will help you to find clients through "social networking."

On Wednesday, after I had learned of Sue Easy's existence, I posted this update on the Popehat twitter account.

Received class action lawsuit settlment notice re Google books. Odd as I'm not a class member.

I actually didn't receive a settlment [sic] notice concerning the Google books class action at all.  I wrote that because I was curious as to how long it would take for Sue Easy to send me a message about all of the benefits of joining its network.  I predicted it wouldn't take long.

And sure enough, within 48 hours I received this unsolicited message from Sue Easy:

@Popehat Internet's Largest Class Action Database – Search, Join or Start your own Class Action. Protect your rights http://SueEasy.com

In other words, Sue Easy's sophisticated "social networking" strategy is the same old thing.  Sue Easy is a spammer.  I don't know whether a "bot" searched Twitter for my planted message containing the words "class action" or a hired monkey at a keyboard did it, but I didn't ask for Sue Easy's opinion about my good fortune in settling the Google books class action, and I didn't want it.

Moreover, even in 140 characters, Sue Easy's spam is deceptive.  While I actually could "start my own class action" (subject to certification and oversight from a court), most of Sue Easy's marks couldn't "start" their own class actions if their lives depended on it, and would be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law if they tried.

They certainly couldn't do it by registering on a website.

Sue Easy's site claims that an awful lot of legal firms, some quite prominent, are members.  These firms, apparently, have licensed Sue Easy to use their names and distinctive logos for its advertising.  These firms, apparently, are proud to be associated with a spammer engaged in arguably deceptive marketing practices.

For instance, prominent Los Angeles plaintiffs' firm Wasserman Comden and Casselman's name and logo are listed on the Sue Easy site.  Did an attorney from Wasserman Comden review and approve of Sue Easy's promise that I can "start" and "file" my own class action through a web page?  Did an attorney from Wasserman Comden review and approve of Sue Easy's "social networking" strategy, which involves bothering me with unsolicited junk spam through Twitter?

They must have.  They've given Sue Easy their name and logo.  As better lawyers than I have observed, when a law firm outsources its marketing, it outsources its good name, and its ethics.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

43 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:03 am

    Note also that on SueEasy's lefthand navigation bar, they have a series of categories of legal issues. Most of these have little, if anything, do to with class actions. Take the criminal law section, for example. These categories — most of which, if clicked on, yield a generic statement about SueEasy — seem listed merely to attract search engine hits.

  2. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:15 am

    On the brighter side, SueEasy looks like a reliable source for sacks full of crazy, conspiracy theories, and junk science. Current example:

    Many people take the hiv test believing it identifies the presence of a deadly virus known as HIV and that this infection will attack their immune system and lead to premature death. HIV drug companies have continued to produce medications to treat hiv infection despite the lack of verifiable independent scientific evidence to support their claims. Their profits are now into the billions of dollars. A class action lawsuit would begin to help everyone who ever took hiv medications based on the fraudulent research used by hiv drug companies.

    Note that on this specific case listing, like others, there is an option for "join the class action," falsely conveying the impression that (1) there is an existing lawsuit, (2) it has been certified as a class action, and (3) you can join that existing suit by typing something into SueEasy's web interface.

  3. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:16 am

    lefthand navigation bar!! i'm right handed lets sue!!!

  4. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:19 am

    Also, their FAQ is a train wreck. Example:

    How do I file a Class Action Lawsuit?

    1. Click on 'Start New Class Action' on the main page.
    2. Fill out the form with your case Title (be specific here as it helps identify the case and let others join it). Then add the detail and summary. Upload a picture if you want to.
    3. Signup as a LITIGANT on the next page.

    And you're done! If others are affected by the same bad product or service, a class action lawyer will take up your case in no time! You could be on your way to a settlement..

    A good idea would be to SEARCH through SueEasy's Class Action Database to see if the case already exists. The search box is on the main page. If it does, then simply add your complaint to it.

    Also:

    How soon can I expect a response?

    In most cases, you will make contact with an attorney within 48 business hours of your submission, sometimes sooner. Be sure to check your email frequently, attorneys can and do respond day and night and even on weekends.

    I would LOVE to depose someone from SueEasy about the veracity of that claim.

  5. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:26 am

    For fun, I signed up as Vex Atiouslitigant, who lives at the same address as the American Tort Reform Association.

    I'm thinking of submitting a case.

  6. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:35 am

    Awesome.

    ¿Hello! [sic]
    Your case has been submitted to our panel of Licensed Attorney's [sic]. Please keep checking your account at SueEasy and your email for attorney responses. Communication is key to a successful settlement!

    Thanks.
    SueEasy Team.

  7. Patrick  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:37 am

    You RULE, my friend.

    Do post the response, and let us know whether an attorney contacts you about your successful settlement tonight, or any time this weekend!

  8. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:42 am

    Ken i like your evilness if you do get a class action going submit it her so i can join too thanx lol

  9. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:42 am

    »¿You have started a new class action!
    If other people join your case, we will approve it.

    Thanks

    Here.

    iwantmoney | 409 | 2009-06-27
    I stuck my finger in the electrical socket. Twice. This has hurt me and now I have lost music in my life and also my hair is no longer awesome. The electricul companies did not put a warning on the face plate of the socket telling me not to do that. Also they did not run public service warnings on American Idol or Fox News, like they do for not drinking bleach. This is unAmerican. I want money. What kind of country is this where I have to live with the consequences of my own behavior without being paid for it?

    Also, Ben Franklin should pay me because he created electricity.

    I am entitled to money!!!!! I was electrocuded by the ecletrical companies!

  10. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:48 am

    i cant find your suit too many can you post a direct link?

  11. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:53 am

    Your EMERGING Class Action case has been submitted to our panel of Licenced [sic] Tort and Class Action Attorney's [sic]. A good idea would be to go to your Class Action page and use our SHARE button to make other aware of this case. The more people joining up, the higher the chances of a Tort lawyer [sic] fighting your case. Please keep checking your account at SueEasy and your email for attorney responses. Communication is key to a succesful [sic] settlement!

    Thanks.
    SueEasy Team.

  12. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:54 am
  13. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:54 am

    i found you (just type electric in the search field)

  14. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @10:55 am

    I know I shouldn't throw the first stone on spelling — or even on grammar. But really. What kind of law firm would hitch its wagon to such a team of illiterates?

  15. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @11:01 am

    ken they are listed at the bottom of the site =p

  16. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @11:07 am

    that is just too damn funny ken, i cant stop laughing at the law suit

  17. Patrick  •  Jun 27, 2009 @11:55 am

    There is a person in Karachi Pakistan who keeps refreshing this thread. So far he's refreshed it over 50 times. This person has deleted Ken's lawsuit against Benjamin Franklin.

    We've had more traffic from Karachi Pakistan today than we've had in the 4 years Popehat has existed.

    But you can't stop us, person from Karachi Pakistan. I'll file a class action against McGruff the Crime dog, on behalf of all of the people he's ever bitten, soon.

  18. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @11:57 am

    remember to link it lol

  19. Patrick  •  Jun 27, 2009 @11:57 am

    As for the lawyers who are members of Sue Easy, you have outsourced your names to an office drone in Pakistan.

    Hope you're happy with that.

  20. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @12:05 pm

    NOW WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT BEING ELECTROCUTED DAMNIT

  21. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @12:06 pm

    Hmmm. Do you think all of those firms REALLY agreed to let their names and logos be used?

    I know two of them. I think I'll make a call or two on Monday and ask.

  22. Jag  •  Jun 27, 2009 @2:00 pm

    You guys rock.

  23. matt  •  Jun 27, 2009 @2:30 pm

    honestly ken you should that way all those firms can start their own class action suit lol

  24. John  •  Jun 27, 2009 @5:01 pm

    What a load of rubbish. Consumers need sites like this as well as Yelp, classadvocate.com, avvo.com, whocanisue.com, complaintsboard.com, Ripoffreport.com, topclassactions.com etc. If anything SueEasy seems to be the most credible out of the lot.

    Corporations have packs of attorneys, what does the common man have?

  25. Patrick  •  Jun 27, 2009 @7:09 pm

    I'm hardly a fan of Avvo John, but if you're even comparing these jokers to Avvo, you're obviously affiliated with SueEasy.

    Compared to SueEasy, Avvo is as white-shoe as Skadden Arps.

  26. Patrick  •  Jun 27, 2009 @7:14 pm

    Oh ho, you are affiliated with SueEasy. Our spam filter has you submitting the precise same canned message, John. Twice in a minute.

    I'm banning the first IP address I allowed through, to prevent you from spamming again.

  27. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @8:24 pm

    Hey, John, since you are a spokesmodel, let me ask you:

    1. What percentage of people who post "cases" on SueEasy are ever contacted by a lawyer?

    2. Of those, what percentage result in cases being filed?

    3. Of those, what percentage result in plaintiff verdicts or settlements?

    4. Of those, how many involve favorable outcomes where individual class members get actual money in excess of, say, $20?

  28. Ken  •  Jun 27, 2009 @8:26 pm

    Also, John, is inability to use capitalization or punctuation correctly a requirement to run a misleading spammer/lawyer-referral site, or is it just helpful?

  29. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 28, 2009 @2:45 am

    Ken, why wait until Monday to make those calls?

    I mean, if they might contact you over the weekend, why can't you contact them?

  30. George  •  Jun 28, 2009 @4:14 am

    My company aggregates class action lawsuits and investigations into one searchable repository. The URL is http://www.classadvocate.com. We were mentioned in a previous comment as being less "credible" than SueEasy. Here are a few points in our defense:

    1. We tell the public exactly who we are. We do not hide.
    2. Nowhere on our site do we use hyperbole or fluff. We never claim that a consumer can “start” her own class action by submitting a post to our site. In fact we do not even allow a person to post a complaint at all.
    3. We do not sell leads (or even collect leads for that matter).
    4. Our service is 100% compliant with all ethical rules. We make all proper disclosures. We are not a lead generation company. We do not refer matters.

    One premise behind ClassAdvocate is that by bringing together thousands of class action lawsuits and investigations into one searchable repository, consumers can better understand their rights. We are not aware of any other source where a consumer can click on “Countrywide” and pull up a range of pending class action lawsuits against that lender. Or where a “Nurse” can find a range of class actions where a nurse is a plaintiff. Or where someone can type in “early termination fees” and pull up class actions across all industries where early termination fees are being litigated. Or where a user can type in “Madoff” or “Ponzi scheme” and find a range of actions against Madoff specifically or ponzi schemes more broadly.

    We think we are developing a useful and informative site that contains unique content and might actually help people. I invite all to review our site and comment. We have thick skin so let it fly.

  31. Patrick  •  Jun 28, 2009 @5:07 am

    George we're a non-commercial site and ordinarily don't allow commenters to link to commercial sites (unless we really like them), but since John the SueEasy proxy mentioned you, it only seemed fair to let you respond.

    I will add that having reviewed your site, I disagree with John the SueEasy proxy's credibility evaluations.

  32. John  •  Jun 28, 2009 @7:32 am

    Since when does expressing your opinion in a public forum make you a spokeperson?

    According to that logic, one could imply that you are a paid, propoganda spewing stooge for the tort-reform lobby, or worse yet a paid stooge from a certain telecom corporation!

  33. John  •  Jun 28, 2009 @7:42 am
  34. Ken  •  Jun 28, 2009 @7:59 am

    How interesting that you should cite the USLaw.com site, "John." We've blogged about their issues before as well. You don't go by "Greg Chase," by any chance, do you, John?

    You just have a soft spot for questionable lawyer marketing sites, huh?

    So tell us, John:

    1. Why should consumers trust a site that makes representations that are misleading at best and fraudulent at worst, as detailed in this post and this comments thread?

    2. Why should consumers trust the legal acumen of a site riddled with grammatical and spelling errors?

    3. What percentage of people who submit a case to SueEasy get a call or email from a lawyer?

    4. What percentage of people who get a call from a lawyer see their complaint addressed through a lawsuit?

    5. What percentage of people who see a lawsuit get recovery over $20?

    6. Your tort reform citations suggest you are a foe of consumer fraud. Can you explain why, based on the factors identified here, some lawyer should refrain from suing SueEasy?

  35. John  •  Jun 28, 2009 @8:12 am

    As I mentioned I am not affiliated with SueEasy and neither am I "Greg Chase", but the questions you ask are ridiculous considering it's not a public company and sites such as Legalmatch, Avvo, or any legal match-making website would never answer.

    While you're at it why don't you ask colonel Harland Sanders for the recipe .. or break into the Coca-Cola vault and steal their formula?

  36. Ken  •  Jun 28, 2009 @8:20 am

    So — it's a trade secret why consumers should trust SueEasy despite their messages being riddled with spelling and grammatical errors? It's akin to theft of a secret formula to ask a company for hard data to support its claims?

    I thought tort reform opponents were supposed to be consumer advocates. Apparently I'm in SueEasy's targeted consumer group, since they spammed us. Should consumers not ask tough questions about the veracity of marketing claims?

  37. Ken  •  Jun 28, 2009 @8:25 am

    And let's take a specific example, "John."

    How do I file a Class Action Lawsuit?

    1. Click on 'Start New Class Action' on the main page.
    2. Fill out the form with your case Title (be specific here as it helps identify the case and let others join it). Then add the detail and summary. Upload a picture if you want to.
    3. Signup as a LITIGANT on the next page.

    And you're done! If others are affected by the same bad product or service, a class action lawyer will take up your case in no time! You could be on your way to a settlement..

    Is it your position that text is not misleading to a non-lawyer?

  38. Patrick  •  Jun 28, 2009 @8:27 am

    According to that logic, one could imply that you are a paid, propoganda spewing stooge for the tort-reform lobby

    I wish.

    But there are good arguments to be made for tort reform, whether one agrees or not with a given plank. Your argument that SueEasy is "the most credible" of a group including Avvo, or for that matter Class Advocate (with which I'm not affiliated, but since you brought them into it) shreds itself.

    Read the damned post. Do you believe that a site which promises consumers "instant legal bliss" is credible? No lawyer would. Do you believe that a site which promises consumers that they can "file" or "start" their own class action online is credible?

    I'm almost utterly convinced you have some connection to SueEasy. No knowledgeable person would call these misrepresentations credible.

  39. Ken  •  Jun 28, 2009 @8:33 am

    For the benefit of our readers who avoid Twitter, here are some of @SueEasy's flurry of angry tweets at us this morning:

    SueEasy@Popehat Please read our terms & conditions as well as disclaimer messages on CA pages. Some due diligence will do you good.

    SueEasy@Popehat http://www.popehat.com/auth… Mr. "Patrick's" stellar lineup of blog posts (most with 1 or 2 comments). mostly very bitter

    SueEasy@Popehat We're happy to provide you with traffic. However your misrepresentation and accusations against us are very sad.

    SueEasy@Popehat If tweets were "spam" then most people on here r criminals. Sorry about the one tweet we sent to you, which was out of goodwill.

    SueEasy@Popehat And for a grammar nazi you should look closer at your posts "“Filing” of a “complaint” means the the act of submitting" RIGHT!

    SueEasy@Popehat We clearly mention all complaints are submitted to attorneys for review. The user-generated Class Actions are NOT certified.

    My comments:

    1. Patrick is, in fact, both stellar and bitter.

    2. I think it is completely hilarious that we have angered a supposedly professional company into calling us "grammar Nazis."

    3. This flurry of tweets coincided with "John's" flurry of posts here.

  40. Patrick  •  Jun 28, 2009 @8:54 am

    For those who prefer links, this is SueEasy's twitter stream: http://twitter.com/SueEasy

    For the past 12 hours, while I've been sleeping, someone in Karachi has been tweeting up a storm.

  41. matt  •  Jun 28, 2009 @9:01 am

    does anyone get points for john and george showing up lol

  42. Chris  •  Jun 28, 2009 @7:27 pm

    Colonel Harland Sanders is, sadly dead. The Colonel Sanders you see on television is a (re)animated character who, as I understand it, may not even know the original recipe.

1 Trackback