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RE: Nov. 2003 Deimler/Harteis SLAPP lawsuit

To the Operator of MLMSurvivor.com:

I apologize for the length of this letter, but I am concerned for you and MLM Survivor. You may wish to share this information with your readers.

I had just sent you an email entitled "How have you dodged having MLM Survivor shut down?" when I read about the November 2003 Deimler/Harteis SLAPP lawsuit against MLM Survivor. I mentioned in that email that I noted some anti-MLM sites, previously linked on your site, had been sued and forced to shut down. My concern is that although I sincerely hope you prevail, the record of defendants prevailing so far isn't good, as described below.

The cost to fight a SLAPP suit in my state, California, is about $15K-20K. Defendants are FORCED to pay that just to defend themselves (no pro bonos, and legally representing yourself is not an option). Yes, the case may be decided in the defendant's favor and the plaintiff will end up paying the defendant's attorneys' fees according to the Anti-SLAPP law, but the point/problem is that defendants must come up those defense fees TO BEGIN WITH. There is currently no venue I know of for dismissing a libel suit for the joke it is before attorneys (and their fees) are involved. Most plaintiffs intentionally sue for ridiculous amounts, ruling out small claims. Defendants who cannot afford $15-20K to defend themselves are forced before even a preliminary hearing to settle on ludicrous terms, which invariably include a permanent injunction against ever sharing information on the plaintiff's company again. The plaintiffs know this and bank on the defendant's inability to afford a defense. Libel/slander suits are particularly nasty in the case of MLMs SLAPPing angry ex-distributors because the MLM has caused the defendant's financial destitution to begin with, thus ENSURING their silence! The final result is that anyone seeking balanced information about the MLM will never see the true multitude of complaints, nor their nature.

SLAPP suits are new and legal decisions that I know of so far have been inconsistent at best. Because of this, I fear you may not prevail even if you can afford to defend and mount a perfect defense. If you don't prevail and are shut down, please add me to what must certainly be a long list of people wondering about the suit's outcome and confirm our suspicions via email. If you do prevail, I look forward to seeing the news on MLM Survivor.

from a message sent to the Cagey Consumer)


Here's an explanation of SLAPP from the law dictionary at http://nolo.com:
A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, in which a corporation or developer sues an organization in an attempt to scare it into dropping protests against a corporate initiative. SLAPP suits typically involve the environment--for example, local residents who are petitioning to change zoning laws to prevent a real estate development might be sued in a SLAPP suit for interference with the developer's business interests. Many states have "anti-SLAPP suit" statutes that protect citizens' rights to free speech and to petition the government.

SLAPP links

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