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PetsWarehouse vs. Mailing List

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the just-a-bizarre-story dept.

Censorship 643

klaun writes "Salon is running a story about a federal suit against members of an Internet mailing list. Seems a company got a bad review on the list and the owner sued the person that said it and everyone who agreed. But the case grew bigger from there, including a suit against the legal defense fund set up to support members of the list being sued and anyone who linked to the defense fund. The ultimate rub of it all is that it basically worked. Most of the defendants have settled." This is a truly bizarre story.

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frist post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284950)

claimed in the name of the .test community. cherish our balls.

AC's rok!

If you had balls, they would be cherished (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284962)

But alas, there is but a void betwixt your chubby thighs.

Fist Sport in the name of the heterosexual!

PetsWarehouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285170)

I'd just like to say I got bad service from them

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284953)

fp

Props to all dead homiez!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285010)

See, now, look what you've done. You've insulted your dead homiez by giving them props in a second-post FP. No good.

If I was one of your dead homiez, and I was somehow still capable of anger, like, in some sort of afterlife or something, I'd be damn pissed.

laser sight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284957)

BOOM
FP

So remember that... (-1, Offtopic)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284958)

...next week when Slashdot posts this story again and you feel tempted to crack a joke about it.

watch out /. (1)

DimitryP (560878) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284971)

so, if i have this right, a company sued people that didnt like them. imagine what would happen to slashdot readers if microsoft decided to do that.

Re:watch out /. (1)

weatherbee (525519) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285198)

imagine what would happen to slashdot readers if microsoft decided to do that.

That guy Novak seems so lawsuit-happy I wouldn't be surprised if he were drawing up his pro se papers against Salon and /. at this very moment.

Re:watch out /. (3, Insightful)

jmccay (70985) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285209)

Watch out /.? Hell, if this nut-case (the pet store owner) wins any of his lawsuits in case, everybody will need to watch out. Mailling lists are the equivalent of talking in a group of your peers. You have to sign up to be on most of these mailing lists. There won't be much difference in saying these things in person, and saying them on a mailing list. The word would still travel. Do be suprised if you see someone getting sued for casual conversation amoungs your friends and peers because you had a bad experience with some company. This is stupid!

The store owner should have handled this better. Sueing everybody in sight is not good PR. At this point, he should go out of business because who will want to buy anything form him now? Sueing a defense fund? Is this person insane?!?!

I am tired of all these stupid lawsuits being allow to go foreward, or at the bare minimum allowed to reach a settlement! Somebody make sure Microsoft doesn't hear about this because they may find that this will fund the new revenue stream they've been looking.

Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284974)

Anonymous Coward

I don't know (0, Informative)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284976)

Sounds fishy to me... (phun intended). But seriously, if I got a quote of $7 for shipping, and they charged me $18, I'd just call the credit card company and refuse to pay. What this guy is saying could be a lot of bull, if he can back up his claims, then I don't see what they can do to him. My guess is that he made it up, and that's not legal, you can't go around saying such and such company ripped you off when they didn't. That's probably why people are settling.

Re:I don't know (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285028)

This post is libelous against my company. I will be seeing you in court. Anyone else want to try??

Re:I don't know (2, Informative)

grattwood (533456) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285065)

The defendants are settling because the owner of petswarehouse is defending himself, and filing lawsuits is his "hobby". Also, most (all?) of the defendants are out of state and had to hire a NY lawyer. When you are right, but it would cost you $50,000 to prove it and the plaintaif is basically sueing you for free...

well settling looks good after a while.

do you know how much it costs to go to court ? (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285070)

most people would settle because they can't spend the $ to hold their defense. read the article : they settled when the raised fund ran out. this is IMO the problem of most western (particulary US) legal system. You may be in your right but do not have the money to defend. Thus justice is only a question of war of attrition : you have the supply line or not.

Re:I don't know (5, Informative)

cameroncase (533475) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285126)

Actually, that isn't exactly what happened. On that list there is a long time trend of getting advice on where to shop (think about it, there aren't that many places to buy aquatic plants...tiny hobbie). One guy offered his opinion. Dozens more chimed in with similar stories (not just "me too"). One guy's complaint was overcharged shipping, but there were many others (including delayed shipping running into the multiple weeks, dead plants upon arrival, etc). There are just too many people that agreed for me to think he made it up. Plus, check the history of the case. The plaintiff continuously adds people each time someone says something negative about this their experiences, or even about the suit. My favorite part? Two of the defendants are John Doe and Mary Roe (in essence anyone else from the APD that he decides to add). More confusion is that he has claimed, in another article [libn.com] that filing suits is his "hobby." He also admits that the court is five miles from him, so it is a short drive, while each defendant has to pay for a plane ticket and motel to appear in court. The guy enjoys this. Read some of the amended complaints he has written, some are funny, most are sad, and generally all are poorly written. Why? Oh, he's representing himself. Wait, you say, how can a non-lawyer represent a corporation (Pets Warehouse Inc.)? Well, it can't, but he is doing it anyway. As soon as they sort out whether or not his company is incorporated or a sole-proprietorship maybe this will go away (if is is INC as he says, he can't represent it). For more information (and trust me, this is more about free speech and the internet than it is about plants or aquariums) here are some sites: Forum for the suits discussion (generally pro defendants) [compuserve.com] Forum hosted by the plaintiff (he has a habit of deleting messages, and blocking posters, as is his right, but be aware it will only have ONE side) [petswarehouse.com] The defense fund's web site [thedefensefund.com] A collection of court documents hosted by the lawyer in charge of the fund [petsforum.com] And, finally, to archives of the original messages, so you can read it yourself, and see what REALLY happened [actwin.com]

Re:I don't know (2)

Flower (31351) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285180)

What does it matter if he can back up his claims or not? To get the chance he has to pay upwards of $50,000 to get his day in court! With no guarantee that he will get lawyers costs paid for if he wins. Take a moment to envision yourself in that situation and then tell me what you'd do.

$50,000 is a year's worth of mortage payments, car payments, savings for my son's college fund, investing in my retirement plan, food, utility bills, and still includes enough left over to actually do stuff for my three weeks of vacation, have a cushion for unplanned expensives and actually have some fun every now and then. This doesn't included the emotional costs involved in a protracted legal dispute either.

That's why people are settling imnsho.

Re:I don't know (5, Informative)

bitchx (322767) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285205)

The suing individual regularly posts to usenet and to the mailing lists. Here are some messages [google.com] you can look at to evaluate his behavior. Or, read the article [libn.com] where he talks about his suing "hobby.". The mail to the list [actwin.com] where he calls a defendant a bum and teases people with "PS: any monies collected will be the subject of a cause of action to have those monies turned over to the Plaintiff--Give generously." is probably the best.

Hope that helps your evaluation of the plantiff. Most people get lawyers to sue. This plantiff did not. Most people don't talk about a suit in progress. Certainly, they don't try to browbeat the defendant without lawyers present. What do you think now?

dot coms ran out of VC's to screw... (4, Funny)

josquint (193951) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284985)

... now they have to make money using their legal departments?

someday they'll hafta make profit the old fashioned way... sell a good/service that ppl want at a decent price...

Re:dot coms ran out of VC's to screw... (3, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284998)

It's called the Rambus Maneuver.

CD's for free! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284987)


Do you want 2 CD's? [doyouwant2cds.com]

Link to Legal Defense Fund Page (5, Insightful)

echucker (570962) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284995)

It'll prolly get /.'d, but here it is- http://216.168.47.67/psw/Default.html As an admin of another (unrelated) aquarium board, I find the trend disturbing, especially after some of the flamewars I've seen bashing suppliers on our and other boards.

It worked because..... (5, Informative)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285001)

It worked because people didn't stand up and fight.

New York has an anti-SLAPP [casp.net] statute. I wonder why this was not used to kick out the case.


Some of these fights have to be taken and some of these SLAPPERs [barbieslapp.com] have to be hit with large enough damages to make others think long and hard before bringing another SLAPP [sorehands.com] action.

It's federal... (5, Informative)

sterno (16320) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285071)

From the lead in it said that it was a lawsuit filed in federal court, thus New York's anti-SLAPP statutes would not be applicable (to the best of my knowledge).

Re:It worked because..... (4, Informative)

cameroncase (533475) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285218)

Here is a quote from a lawyer regarding NY anti-SLAPP "Besides myself a couple of other attorneys have also looked at the New York statute. It is limited in what it applies to. For the most part the protected comments must have occurred before government entities." That means its no good in this case. NY doesn't have a _REAL_ anit-SLAPP law, not like CA.

It's too bad, but this is a common tactic (3, Insightful)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285002)

Too often, frivolous lawsuits are filed against companies, individuals, or whatever (mailing lists?) with no intention of ever going to court. The idea is to get the defendant to settle (with bad PR, threats, what have you). Personally, I would like to see more of these go to court. I doubt this would have turned out in favor of the plaintiff.

You have the right to a day in court, but unfortunately, too many nowadays want to just cough up some cash and make the problem go away, rather than fighting. It's really a shame.

Re:It's too bad, but this is a common tactic (2, Insightful)

restless_ne'erdowell (188482) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285125)

The problem is that, at least in this case, it costs a lot more to have your day in court than it does to settle. The one guy settled for $5,000 after the defense fund ran through the $15,000 it had raised.

Most people, given the rock/hard place choice of spending X to settle and spending 5X to prove they're right, will be forced to settle.

Something fishy... (2, Insightful)

DickPhallus (472621) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285004)

I read from the printer friendly version [salon.com] , no ads and stuff...

But anyway, this is simply unbelievable. The idea that if someone says something bad about their own experiences can somehow justify suing them for 15 million dollars. And then to sue a defense fund! WTF is going through people's mind?

Instead of wasting their time with such frivalous legal actions, they should perhaps try to improve their aquatic plants division.

But I guess trying to serve customers is a harder way to get money than just sueing people.

first post!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285005)

CmdrTaco cnat spel his ownn name rieght, "cmdr", WTF is THAT!?

odyloe RULEZ hahahahahaha |:-)

Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285037)

Watch out, he'll give you a "-1, Trolle"!

But really. Shut the hell up, you didn't FP by a long shot. Save the honor for those who press Reload 50 times a second.

The secret of Existence lies in SCIENTOLOGY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285086)

O_O X_X !_! >_ L_L @_@ #_# T_T Z_Z D_D
sd
sfdafsdsfdasfdlafsdljkjxjkzvxcjkcvxlkzvxc jnksdfajs ajfdklsfadsjdafjkafdbjkasdvcxvzcx

Re:The secret of Existence lies in SCIENTOLOGY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285109)

Is this just some loser talking to himself?

Cease and Desist (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285135)

Please cease and desist from defaming The Church Of Scientology® on this public forum. If your message is not removed with in 24 hours, our attornies shall pursue this matter further in court. This is your only warning.

Uh Oh... (2)

Apreche (239272) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285013)

I think Microsoft is going to sue all of us who say there software is poor. But wait! We can sue them back for saying *nix/open source sux. Oh how emotionally distressed I am, I deserve someone elses money because they exhibited their right to free speech. Sorrow!

Re:Uh Oh... (-1)

five dollar troll (541247) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285093)

it amazes me that people like you can actually function from day to day without the capability of forming a complete sentence.

And you're really reaching by saying that "we" could sue microsoft for bashing open source, seeing as how "we" don't own it, and since "we" cannot possibly claim any damages...after all, if it's FREE, how could anyone LOSE MONEY because Microsoft says it sucks?

Fucking idiot.

Re:Uh Oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285153)

It's slashdot, man. People like him are the bread and butter of this site. No matter what the topic is, they have to relate it to ms vs. open source. It's a damned good way to get modded up, and it ensures that almost everyone will agree with you.

M$ suxors! Mod me up!

PetsWarehouse = Satanism (5, Funny)

TheMonkeyDepartment (413269) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285014)

I hate to stir up more trouble, but it is my opinion that PetsWarehouse are a bunch of child molesting, cocaine distributing, AIDS-infected Satanists who routinely butcher small puppies and kittens in worship of the Dark Lord. Robert Novak is best friends with Gary Condit and he helped pull out Chandra Levy's teeth with a pair of pliers.

You are welcome to post your agreement below.

Re:PetsWarehouse = Satanism (2)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285034)

Sure, I'll second that opinion. They seem like real assholes considering their behaviour in this case.

Kintanon

Re:PetsWarehouse = Satanism (3, Funny)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285098)

As the webmaster and CEO of statistis.com, I am hereby bringing to your attention my intention to sue the pants off your libelious ass.

Satan can not effectively and profitably doom souls and turn humanity to the evils of sin in a community where sladerous remarks can confuse consumers and associate his practices with those of the ill reputed petswarehouse.com.

Expect a call from my lawyer, Satan. (not that his choice of earthly career should be a surprise at this point ;)

Satan's Lawyer's Billing Rate: (3, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285120)

$666.66/hour.

Re:PetsWarehouse = Satanism (2)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285132)

er, satanists.com

and yes, its a joke. i have no idea whats at that site, and I'm too lazy to check.

Re:PetsWarehouse = Satanism (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285176)

I actually went to Pets Warehouse to get some supplies, and wanted to see the physical location of the plant. I went with my eight year old daughter, because she had hoped to see kittens, although I told her that they probably didn't have any there.

I was beset by three or four big guys, who held me helpless, forced my mouth open, and took turns spitting in it. Then the owner of Pets Warehouse forcibly had sex with my daughter while I was forced to watch.

I am never going to buy anything from them again.

Re:PetsWarehouse = Satanism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285178)

I hate to stir up more trouble, but it is my opinion that PetsWarehouse are a bunch of child molesting, cocaine distributing, AIDS-infected Satanists who routinely butcher small puppies and kittens in worship of the Dark Lord.


Unfortunately, since you qualified that as a statement of opinion rather than fact, it probably isn't libel, and won't stir up the sort of trouble you were hoping for.

Robert Novak is best friends with Gary Condit and he helped pull out Chandra Levy's teeth with a pair of pliers.


This one, on the other hand, you have presented as fact. Novak, Condit and Levy (or her estate) might all have cause for action if those statements were false, though their status as public figures might save you. Or not; I am neither a lawyer nor a llama.

Re:PetsWarehouse = Satanism (5, Funny)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285184)

...and they're all Scientologists!

Re:PetsWarehouse = Satanism (3, Funny)

dattaway (3088) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285207)

uh oh... You just had to reveal they were Scientologists... Now we are all in trouble! Let the picketing wars begin!

heavy (2)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285019)

Does that mean Novak will sue Salon? And then slashdot for linking to Salon?

Microsoft SUCKS (0, Redundant)

Jacer1099 (413942) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285021)

Just imagine if we were held accountable for everything we said.

Just in case (-1, Redundant)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285069)

I openly and wholeheartedly support Scientology. As a belief system, it is well thought out, and offers a modern alternative to the dogma proposed by old-time religions.

Did you know we only use 10% of our total brain's capacity?

As a forum owner, I'm not surprised. (1)

Corvaith (538529) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285023)

At least the subject of everything was a business and could therefore *possibly* have monetary loss over all of it.

I run a forum. Thus far, I've been fortunate in that nobody's actually gone through with a lawsuit threat. "Waah! Somebody said I was wrong! I'm gonna sue!" Everybody's first line of defense is a threat like that, especially if they're unable to come up with any sort of decent reply.

Now, if the guy's posts to this list in response actually got blocked, I do feel for him a bit. What was the moderator thinking? If you're going to run something like that, you have to learn to be impartial with your kewl powerz, or pretty soon all the decent people will flee, and rightly so.

Whether it warranted a lawsuit? I dunno.

Re:As a forum owner, I'm not surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285121)

the email wasn't blocked on purpose according to the salon article. there were attachments and those caused the mail to blocked.

Re:As a forum owner, I'm not surprised. (2, Interesting)

grattwood (533456) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285123)

The mailing list is unmoderated. He (the plaintaif) simply could not figure out how to send plain text e-mail with out attachments.

He (the plaintaif) is now a regular SPAMMER^H^H^H^H^H^H^H poster to the list. Too bad he has never posted anything about aquatic plants to the list.

Re:As a forum owner, I'm not surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285137)

The moderator did NOT block PetSwarehouse's posts. They were blocked by the system because PetSwarehouse posted huge binary Word attachments to the list, which is not allowed.

One thing to note, a different company with an unfortunately similiar name, PetWarehouse, has gotten excellent reviews on many aquaria boards. I want to be sure nobody gets them confused with PetSwarehouse, which is run by a crybaby that will sue you for 15mil on any pretext he can make up.

If you want the whole story, just search Deja.com for petSwarehouse.

Whose fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285149)

Except it was the fault of the idiot for trying to send attachments to a mailing list, not the moderator. He did something technically stupid and then refused to believe it was his own fault, and so sued. I'm reminded of policemen/lawyers/inquisitors continuously grilling victims because they don't believe the truth.

Re:As a forum owner, I'm not surprised. (2)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285194)

Now, if the guy's posts to this list in response actually got blocked, I do feel for him a bit. What was the moderator thinking? If you're going to run something like that, you have to learn to be impartial with your kewl powerz, or pretty soon all the decent people will flee, and rightly so.

That's true, but the article said that those posts had attachments, so they were denied, which I'm sure is automatic. Kinda like sending via Outlook through Exchange auto-adds an RTF attachment (IIRC).
It seems to me if you can't follow protocol to complain, your defamation suit shouldn't include "I was silenced in my attempt to respond". But at the same time, IF the Exchange thing was at fault, what happened to his email admin?

History repeats itself (5, Informative)

Ali Jenab (565034) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285024)

A number of years ago, when I was just getting into the digirati, Oracle filed lawsuits against several members of a DBA discussion group because they were posting less-than-glowing reviews of their database software. Since these victims were highly-paid professionals, not just a bunch of whiny kids (as in the PetsWarehouse case), they had the resources to fight Oracle in court. What happened next was a victory for free speech on the Net and for American justice: every single case Oracle filed against the users was summarily dismissed, and the 4-5 defendants who countersued Oracle received several hundred thousand dollars in punitive damages - more than enough to cover their legal bills and buy themselves something nice.

The moral of the story here is that giving up on what you believe in gets you nowhere. If you cave in to corporate pressure, you will lose your money, your good name, and your credit rating when you settle out of court. If you stand up for your rights when you know you're correct, justice will prevail and you will know you've made a difference for netizens everywhere. What would you rather be - a victorious hero or an unprincipled loser? Don't answer here - save your response for the judge.

/ali

Troll?? MODS ON CRACK (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285044)

Call it what you will, but the parent post certainly isn't a troll.

Re:History repeats itself (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285083)

FYI: I modded you down as troll because you have an arabic-sounding username.

The first line of defense (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285118)

Deny the Islamic terrorists the opportunity to speak. They only use western languages to communicate their desire to kill children.

Could somebody please explain how this is a troll? (-1, Offtopic)

ClassicG (138845) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285104)

Seriously, this comment has gotten two (-1 Troll) moderations, and I don't see how this is even remotely fair. I don't know if the parent comment is accurate, nor am I sure I agree with it's conclusion, but it sounds like a pretty reasonable position for somebody to take to me.

He is an Al Qaeda operative (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285146)

Secretly communicating Bin Laden's intentions to Yasser Arafat, who is currently stationed inside the only cybercafe in the West Bank.

Freedom of what? (1)

Everach (559166) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285025)

Companies and PR firms are only beginning to grapple the rift between professional journalism and the outspoken words used on forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms and blogs. They need to begin embrassing these formats before this kind of publicity destroys our community and our taste for all things commercial. Don't kick in my sandbox because you don't like my fort.

PetSwearhouse not PetWarehouse (5, Informative)

MikeyO (99577) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285033)

Please note that we are talking about PetSwarehouse.com [petswarehouse.com] which is not affiliated with PetWarehouse.com [petwarehouse.com] which is a respectable business.

Re:PetSwearhouse not PetWarehouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285067)

Yes, PetSWEARhouse, where you can get all your pussy at wholesale prices!

Sorry, I couldn't resist

Re:PetSwearhouse not PetWarehouse (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285095)

You're thinking of Petswhorehouse [petswhorehouse.com]

Re:PetSwearhouse not PetWarehouse (1)

jhunsake (81920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285075)

Everyone should send them an email letting them know we don't do business with companies that behave this way.

Re:PetSwearhouse not PetWarehouse (2)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285192)

He doesn't need your business. He makes more money from the lawsuits, I suspect.

The system is broken. Very, very broken.

Yeah but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285042)

pet warehouse suck and we all know it...

Just a thought.. (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285043)

It's conceivable that someone outside the US could register petswarehousesucks.com at someplace like godaddy.com for 8.95 and run a site from there. Last time I checked WHOIS, it was available. The (very) first amendment point of this post is...... Could the US legal system be able to reach that far should some people outside the U.S. get it in their heads to continue a campaign against this company?

Re:Just a thought.. (1)

bkw (19412) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285160)

you misspelled 'petSWEARhouse.com'.

Not the first time (2, Informative)

zentec (204030) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285045)


I've seen this argument from Pets Warehouse on various mailing lists when I kept salt water fish.

His own actions have caused him more problems than one customer complaint.

A new way to make money ... (3, Interesting)

pgrote (68235) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285047)

Wow. So if someone thinks my business sucks and they tell people about it I can get rich. Kick ass.

What I found exceptional about this article is that the guy from Pets Warehouse was representing himself. His costs out of pocket were court fees. It doesn't appear that he paid anyone to serve most of the summons'.

The most striking question I have is why didn't everyone who was sued band together? I see the reference to the defense fund, but no mention of targeting the suit's validity in front of a court. Wouldn't that be the first step?

Between this and "recollecting" memories of being abused by priests, one could make a nice living.

Digging a little further ... new article on Novak (5, Informative)

pgrote (68235) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285111)

From the Long Island Business News ...

http://www.libn.com/Column_details.cfm?ID=1249

"Novak, meanwhile, said he has further legal targets. One is the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York. The BBB gives Pets Warehouse an "unsatisfactory rating," the organization's lowest. Novak said some of the complaints were from another business that licensed the Pets Warehouse name and that he didn't get adequate opportunity to respond. "

Shoot for the stars ...

Enough already.... (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285056)

"I've been an attorney for over 20 years, and I have rarely seen anything that's as frivolous as this is," says John Benn, a lawyer and aquarist in Sheffield, Ala.,..."

Can't take the pressure...must...get...out...

*kaboom*

...............

PetsWarehouse sucks ass (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285060)

Hey Novak... come sue me! Its the little people like you that evolution should have gotten rid of long ago. Trying to silence people's opinions about how much your company sucks is going against the ideals of our country. USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! USA Forever!

Come shut me up! Don't buy for petSWEARhouse cause if you do you'll be sure to swear! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Sure hope he makes enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285061)

...from the people who have settled - he's basically killed his business (I imagine word travels quickly in a niche market like that), and if anyone does stand up to him in court, they'll probably win, and he'll be stuck with the legal fees.

What a loser.

Osteichtheis Stinkus (1)

elocutio (567729) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285062)

Something really stinks about this story, and it's not the fish. I suspect some sort of coercion on the part of the claimant (Novak) or his representatives (Attorneys) to get the defendants to settle on such a fluke, or else there really was some sort of conspiracy against the fish man. I believe that the merits of this case are a red herring. :P That reminds me of a joke: Q: What's the difference between Novak's attorney and a catfish? A: One is a bottom-dwelling scum-sucker, and one's a fish.

Re:Osteichtheis Stinkus (2)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285223)

Um, Novak has no attorney. He's representing himself. RTFA.

Its this guy's "hobby" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285079)

According to this article at Long Island Business News [libn.com] going to court is the 'hobby' of the petSWEARhouse guy... I wonder if he'll sue slashdot next.

Again? (2, Informative)

slipkid (442316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285084)

This isn't the first time this has happened. Seems that anytime someone posts in the negative regarding a company, the crap almost immediately hits the fan. In fact, not too awfully long ago, we saw this story [slashdot.org] in which 2600 was threatened for trying to register the domain name verizonreallysucks.com.

I also seem to remember AOL instituting a policy some time ago restricting AOL-hosted websites and chat rooms from having any anti-AOL sentiments published... And what about those who have been unfortunate enough to raise the ire of the Scientologists?

Sad that having negative feelings about a group or corporation means having to spend one's life savings defending oneself in court.

Original Message that started the whole thing... (5, Informative)

neo (4625) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285087)

In case it get's S'dotted.

Thinking of buying plants from Pet Warehouse? Don't.

Actually the plants I received were average to maybe a bit below
average, but they'll pull through in my tank. What is crappy is their
service! And they're maybe even a bit dishonest.

Way back in the beginning of April (April 10th to be exact) I was
seduced by the huge list of plants for sale on their web site. I
ordered 4 types of plants, all quite common. Though it states on their
web site that they directly import their plants, I didn't realize that
they'd import the plants you ordered *after* you placed your order! Or
at least that's the way it seemed ...

I received my order today, May 15th. It only took them 4.5 weeks. And
this is after 6 phone calls. Twice they promised they'd be shipped on
a certain date, then nada. And dealing with them on the phone is,
well, let's just say they stick to their pat answers and work very
hard at getting you off the phone as quickly as possible. My 6th call
was last week, and when they realized I was calling about a plant
order they proclaimed "They will be shipped on Monday". Click. And I
didn't even give them my name or order number! Maybe *all* orders
finally went out on Monday?

There was never a "sorry for the delay" or any sign whatsoever that I
was the valued customer and they were the business providing a product
that I was paying for.

Though I found all of this very annoying, it wasn't what annoyed me
the most. On my order confirmation I was quoted a shipping price of
$7.50. Nice ... it was one of the selling points for me. Then the
order arrived complete with an invoice stating that shipping was
$18.50! When I called them today to straighten this out, they
informed me that the original quote was wrong and that I was stuck
with the $18.50. Again, no "sorry for the mixup" or any indication
that they would fix the problem (with the web site and order
confirmation system).

Another hassle - their shipments *require* a signature. I quote their
email notice telling me the plants had been shipped: "You must be home
to sign for it. We guarantee live arrival if the order is accepted on
the first delivery attempt." Yikes. This was the first I knew of this
policy. So I actually had to take a half day off work in order to be
there to receive the order! These plants are getting *very* expensive.

The whole organization has the feel of someone who started yesterday
out of your neighbors garage. It even sounds that way when you talk to
them on the phone.

Maybe I expect too much?

Though I have a few gripes about Arizona Aquatics as well, they're
light years ahead of this outfit as far as service.

As always, your mileage may vary.

dan
--

Bad Sport! (4, Insightful)

sinserve (455889) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285088)

This company should learn a thing or two, from the notorious
programmer/book-author Herbert Schildt.

This gentleman has been slammed by the members of BOTH the C and C++ standardization
commitee, Academia, Usenet, and just about anyone old enough to write an Amazon review.

Herb however, acknowledges the "points" of his critics in his later books, but continues
doing what he feels like.

He is almost the "abusive boyfriend" of programming books. You know "I am sorry baby,
I don't spend as much time with you as I used, I know I have cheated on you, but BITCH,
get off my back".

It is best for this company to acknowledge the inferriority of their products, but keep
making them anyways. People wont notice it, just ask the millions of heart broken girlfriends
with black eyes.

--

Robert Novak == Bernie Shifman? (1)

elsegundo (316028) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285090)

Well it would be true, but Mr. Novak seems to have actually brought legal proceedings. Almost to the point of barratry really.

But the people can do this, too (5, Insightful)

shimmin (469139) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285094)

Companies with sufficiently deep pockets have demonstrated the ability to "win" lawsuits by simply prolonging them past the ability of their opponents to financially endure.

However, the American justice system does allow a sufficiently large number of people to do this straight back. And I'm not talking about class action suits, from which only lawyers benefit, anyway.

It's called small claims court. Pay the filing fee (typically less than $100), bring a sufficiently plausible gripe that your case won't get dismissed, represent yourself. If you win, you can even get the filing fee reimbursed, and even if not, rest assured that the company has spent more on paying their lawyer to show up than you were asking for in damages.

Think of it as the legal equivalent of DDoS.

In My Opinion (1)

hrieke (126185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285134)

So what would happen if I had posted something like this:

In My Opinion Petswhatever.com is horrible because x, y, and z.

I don't see why they would sue. Contact me and find out more about why I wrote what I wrote, but to take legal action only risks ill will and a counter suite.

Countersuits (5, Insightful)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285140)

I hate to say it, but where are the countersuits here? Hell, where's the DoJ nailing this bastard for violation of civil liberties?

The courts have ruled time and again that the public welfare requires that discussion of civil and criminal cases trumps ALL other rights. There is absolutely no way any suit for "trademark infringement" against a defense fund because it bore the trademark name of the company suing would last 5 seconds before a judge.

What's the alternative - "We're collecting money for unnamed people to fight an unnamed company in an unnamed state for reasons we can't discuss (and can't warn you to avoid repeating). Please be generous!"?

The ONLY reason this even got before the court was buried deep in the article - Novak was representing himself. Probably because no lawyer would touch this case with a 10-foot pole.

I'm a firm believer in the right of people to represent themselves (and equally hostile to the "YANAL, shut up!" posts we see here). Countries where access to the courts are restricted to a privileged few who must always fear the possibility of having that access revoked tend to be less free than countries where the courts are open to all. But that must come at a price - you use this access to trample the rights of others, either as a pro se asshole or a corporate SLAPPer then you need to pay a hefty price for it.

Re:Countersuits (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285202)


> Hell, where's the DoJ nailing this bastard for violation of civil liberties?

Can't do that -- all their resources are tied up defending Micorsoft right now.

This says it all... (2)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285145)

"If Pets Warehouse had sent me e-mail saying: 'We're sorry you're upset. What can we do to make it better?' I would have vented to them, they would have sent me a $20 gift certificate. I would have posted to APD: 'Yeah, we had a bad deal, but let's give them another chance, and it would have been over.' But instead, he [Novak] sued. It is his act of suing us that has caused all the bad feeling. He has brought this upon himself."

What a Analog-Hole! Did he go to the RIAA school of Business?

"Alienate your customers at all costs!"

"When things don't go your way, sue!"

"If all else fails, involve the government!"

"The customer is ALWAYS wrong, and is trying to destroy your business!"

I Love The USA (1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285148)

The only country in the world where you have the right to hold any opinion you want, unless you use a computer to express it. And soon, the only country in the world where it is legal to own an unlicensed firearm, but owning an unlicensed CD player will get you five years in the slammer.

Here's the message that started this all: (4, Informative)

MikeyO (99577) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285152)

Unfortunately much of this discussion has been deleted from the list archives, but here is the not that started it all:

Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 17:06:02 -0700
From ...snip...
Since others have decided to vent:)

> Subject: Another Pets Warehouse UNsatisfied customer (long)
>
> Well, Dan's not the only one they got. Normally, I hate to vent, but it's
> neccessary in this case.

I think I have the record with these nit wits. I've talked to Bob Novak
several times etc(the owner). This guy named "Ed, yea I'll call you back". A
number of years back they did have a person that could do the job well,
Donna. But they drove her off fast. I've been through some 5 or more order
folks there now. There will not be a 6th. That was the only person that ever
got a single thing ever worth mentioning done in the plant area regarding
service. Also the only one that gave decent service, owner included.
They claim to fill 90% of the orders.

Well I can tell everyone it's more like 20%. Or less. If it at all.
I've been extremely fair and patient far beyond anything I've ever seen
posted here by anyone on the APD or other boards. I order from them every 2
weeks for about 2 years(6-8 months is one thing with certain plants due to
the wholsalers etc). I gave up awhile back. Never got but one so so order in
that entire time. Ed said "I'll call you/email you etc if he gets something
in etc". Never ever once. Didn't matter if you order 300$ worth of plants or
25$ worth of plants, every sized order is ignored equally. I understand some
weeks you might not have any/much order to place a plant order overseas etc.
So I kept re ordering. This seemed to bug them even more. This part, myself
knowing the trade and industry to some degree, am very understanding on. I
mentioned that and they mentioned it to me about this issue. But two years
of not getting certain plants and orders is just plain BS no matter how you
look at it/size it up from their end. The high shipping cost are a complete
joke.

But it seems like a LFS that's trying to get into MO with no concept of the
expectations and needs of this different type of internet business. They are
failing terribly in this area. And certainly the customer is last, rather
than first. They act like it's a hassle and that they are going to do it
when they want to and they are going to over charge and charge extra for the
trouble.

For me this is not about the cost of extra shipping etc, I don't care so
much about the $. It's about being able to simply get the plants. Most folks
care about the $ much more than I do and are not nearly as
patient/understanding about this issue. They also should not have to be,
they are the customer who pays their bills but they act like they are doing
you a favor. It's one thing if it's a mistake one or two time or even three
times, but many years and 5 different service employees??
They get ...snip...'s official:

Worse service award of any plant MO place.

And they deserve every bit of it beyond any reasonable doubt.

Regards,
...snip...

In other news... (1, Funny)

mckeowbc (513776) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285155)

/. and salon.com have now been sued for reporting the story of the suit against the people that bitched about Pets Warehouse.

Oh...crap...now I'll probably get sued for making a joke about them suing /. Crap. Oh well.

More links to primary source info on lawsuit (4, Informative)

Seth Finkelstein (90154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285169)

Primary source information about the lawsuit can be found at:
http://www.aquaria.net/lawsuit.html [aquaria.net]

And the archive of the infamous mailing list is at:
http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plants/index.php [actwin.com]

Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

Apparently (2)

His name cannot be s (16831) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285171)

Apparently PetzWhorehouse doesn't want any more customers.

This kind of bad press only makes them look stupid and desperate. Kinda reminds me of Bernie Shifman [petemoss.com]

Is it just me, or do these people figure the world owes them just because they are alive?

*sigh*

Post in their forums (3, Informative)

cemcnulty (225472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285186)

Go here:
http://www.petswarehouse.com/cgi-bin/ubb/Ul timateb b.cgi

and let their forum posters know about their practices, or at least tell them about the Salon article so that they can read it themselves. Post in a forum for whatever pet you have.

-Chuck

Relavent Comment (1)

McD!ck (444861) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285174)

From GTA3
"Is your work taking time away from more important things like watching wrestling? There's a solution! Sue someone! See the great thing about this country is that you can sue anyone, and probably win, or at least get a settlement!"

GAWD things like this tick me off! I know we have a great legal system comparitivly, but I still hate that feeling I get from stories like these. I guess I am just going to have to form my own country full of /.'ers. . .

McD

Quoting Novak Himself (1)

BCGlorfindel (256775) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285177)

"It's not about the First Amendment or squashing free speech. One of the suit's purposes is to stop people from spreading vicious lies and is directed at making them accountable for saying things that are not true." I think the above statement sums things up nicely. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe there is a clause excluding lies/false statements from First Amendment protection is there?

Pets Warehouse has also threatened to sue the BBB (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3285204)

A few weeks back I sent Pets Warehouse a letter condemning their decision to file a $15 mil. suit on a group of vocal dissatisfied customers. In the letter, I brought up Pets Warehouse's unsatisfactory rating by the Better Business Bureau.

In their response to me, the email began with the line:

"We're suing the BBB too!"

petswarehousesucks.com can be yours.... (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285206)

Is not taken according to your friendly WHOIS.

I'd say something... (2)

jhines0042 (184217) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285211)

... but I don't want to be sued.... after all, I could lose all of my Karma.

Better plan... (2)

El Camino SS (264212) | more than 12 years ago | (#3285214)


He should have countersued.

Made him come to his state and duke it out. Make him spend money on gas and then negotiated it back.

This Novak cat is going to die a lone, miserable exsistence if he doesn't straighten up. Truly a pehtetic thing to do to another human being.
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