Junk faxers demonstrate their fine grasp of the law.

2004-12-16 19:46

Gather round, readers, and I will tell you the story of a junk faxer, demonstrating once and for all the fine grasp of legal subtleties one learns to expect. I believe these people may actually be the dumbest junk faxers I have ever sued.

Let me tell you about Complex Capital Mortgage.

They sent me two faxes, and they got sued. While the process server was getting around to them, they sent me another fax. Okay, so, they’ve been served. They are being sued for violating the TCPA. What, then, do they do?

First, they make a harassing call to my house. From their office. Without blocking caller ID. You may think this is a clear winner, but actually, I think it’s probably the least stupid thing they did.

Secondly, they answered the complaint. If I’d meant “their lawyer answered the complaint”, I would have said that. But in Minnesota, corporations must be represented by counsel. So, their answer doesn’t count. Not, that is to say, that it was a coherent or good answer; arguably, we would have been pretty well off with that as their official answer. But having Ike Njaka, an officer of the company, submit the answer did not look very good. It’s okay, they did eventually get counsel; when we moved for judgment, they finally hired a lawyer.

Thirdly, they have never responded to some of the discovery in the case. Their reponses, such as they were, were several months late, and contained flat-out lies. (To be fair, we haven’t sent them our discovery answers yet; they are sitting around, carefully complete, waiting until we get at least some response from them.)

Fourthly, they are trying to demand some kind of meaningless confidentiality on the settlement, which they think will somehow make them better. Clueless! And not, I think, gonna happen.

Fifthly, they never bothered to let their lawyer know when we scheduled an inspection of the premises, so instead of objecting or doing things legally, they just unlawfully refused to allow us to inspect their faxing hardware.

Anyway, though, that’s not the stupid part.

Here’s the stupid part.

In April of 2004, six months after being sued, they finally reached some kind of tentative resolution with the fax blaster who sent these faxes for them, and exposed them to this suit.

The resolution they reached was that they would start doing faxing on behalf of this blaster. They would dial every number in approximately 120 local prefixes (that’s about 120,000 numbers), looking for fax machines, and then send out faxes in batches of 25-35 thousand at a time.

This, my friends, is well beyond the normal range of stupidity. This is cartoon character logic. “When we send faxes we get sued; we need to send even more faxes to make the money back.”

Of course, they invented language to shield them. They wrote a little agreement that says “the moment you violate a law, you cease to be our agent”. That’s brilliant! I bet no one’s ever thought of that one before. Now that the idea is out, of course, we’ll see a surge in assassination-for-hire, because when you hire a hit man, you can just make an agreement that, if he violates any laws, he’s no longer working as your agent. Brilliant.

But that’s not the stupid part. The stupid part is that they actually did it. They went on ahead and started blasting faxes by the thousand.

Not everyone there was an idiot. One employee, for instance, wrote a memo warning that this action would violate federal law, and not just any law, but a law for which the company had already been sued. He observed that Impact Marketing (a.k.a. fax.com) could be out of business within a year, leaving Complex Capital Mortgage with lots of junk fax lawsuits.

Prescient of him. In fact, it’s been only six months, and fax.com is gone, the founders fled with their ill-gotten gains. And Complex Capital Mortgage is left holding the bag. The one consolation they can take is that, at least, they were not tricked into this; they went into it, with their eyes open, knowing the risks. Which, I think, is the most amazingly stupid part of all.

Want to hear the end of the story? This case was filed in Ramsey County District Court, and the case number is 62-C5-04-5266. Look for a stipulation to dismiss in the near future, along with a settlement agreement.

Peter Seebach