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