MMM Receives Legal Threats – Great Lawyer Wanted

The threats are real.. but how we respond to them is our choice.

The threats are real.. but how we respond to them is our choice.

Sigh. I suppose this was bound to happen sometime.

This blog is approaching its third birthday and has been blessed with over 62 million page views from 5.2 million people and counting. Many people have helped and contributed along the way, and while we rant, swear, and speak out against many aspects of our culture, there have been very few bumps along the way. Even the corporate world that we occasionally mock has left us alone. Until now.

A few weeks ago, a flurry of registered letters and FedEx packages started arriving at the Mustache residence. They were from a law firm representing a company who didn’t like something that had been said by a member of the Forum section of this website.

How did they even find out about this conversation, you might ask? Through Google searches. After all these years, this website has garnered sufficient page rank that when we talk about something, it shows up high in the search engine rankings. The company was apparently Googling their own name, found something they did not agree with, and decided they wanted to silence the critics. Here’s a copy of that first letter, signed by the chairman:

The first threat. In retrospect I have learned it is complete bullshit, but it was scary at the time.

The first threat. In retrospect I have learned it is complete bullshit, but it was scary at the time.

From what I could tell, there wasn’t much merit to their complaint. They were asking me to take down posts that a reader had made regarding their company, alleging that it was “Libelous”. Never mind the fact that Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code holds that website owners cannot be held responsible for comments that their users make.

I could have taken it down anyway and been free from the hassle. But the whole thing seemed like bullshit to me. If I’m going to sit here and write about financial independence and the freedom it gives you from putting up with bullshit, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a corporate law firm push all of us around with questionable legal threats.

Adding to the bullshit nature of the claims, it seemed like my adversary was humorously unaware of the Streisand Effect: trying to suppress information only ensures its permanent and widespread distribution. That shit may have worked for totalitarian leaders intimidating villagers, but come on, the Internet has been invented. Can a tiny East Coast firm suppress a large blog, run by a person who thinks suppressing information is really, really evil?

So while I removed the old post pending some legal advice, I did take one step: I started a new thread on the forum, explaining the legal threat that I had received. I figured it was only fair that people should know what is happening, and there is no possible threat of libel from me simply reporting some actual events taken by this company. The Mustachians had a field day with it, and the discussion continues.

Well, they didn’t like that either. I came home from my day of carpentry today to find a slew of “sorry we missed you” registered mail and FedEx notes, and a non-registered letter from that same law firm. Inside was a huge printout of the whole forum thread and even more scary threats from the lawyers.

They stated that their lawsuit would be targeted against my wife and I, as well as our domain registrars (translation: we’ll get your website taken down too.)

It may all be groundless bullying, but it is also a little scary.

I’d love to have an aggressive lawyer who could receive these little threat letters for me and turn them around on the originating firm, so they would know that we will not be bullied. I do have several good friends who work in or own law firms, and they have provided some early encouragement. But rather than imposing on them, I thought it would be most appropriate (and most entertaining) to reach out to the Mustachians first.

If there’s an actual law we are breaking here, I will gladly stop breaking it, and offer my full apologies to those affected.

But if we are within our legal rights, then I will absolutely fight with every resource available to preserve those rights and keep publishing the opinions of both forum users and myself. And the results of the battle and the names of the companies who have attempted this will be published on this blog forever for the protection of others.

Update: After further advice from the MMM legal team, I can now safely share more details. The company is called Kiss Trust. The forum thread they are objecting to is this one right here. Their law firm is called “Law office of Mark B. Williams, PLC”, and here is a copy of the letter they sent me:


I’ve heard that all state BAR associations forbid their members from sending threatening letters when they know there is no real basis for the complaint. If a law firm is publicly shown to be doing this, it could be very bad for its reputation. But the practice remains widespread, and this surprises me.  I’m not saying that Mark B. Williams’ law firm would stoop to such a level – I don’t know enough of the law to prove such a thing. But if this does turn out to be the case, it will be important for this information to remain public as well. And for all other letters I receive from law firms to be published for further scrutiny by a larger audience.

Hey! What do you know, this new one came from another lawyer just the next day!


Either way, I look forward to learning the truth so I can better comply with the law, and sharing the results with you all along the way. I could not imagine a better learning experience, so I thank Kiss trust for providing us with this opportunity!

I will also start a dedicated page on this blog so this story and others from readers about legal and corporate harassment can be shared. It makes sense that if suppressing information and opinions with fear is the disease, then a public forum where we can share them permanently with each other is the antidote.

This blog reaches over 25,000 lawyers every month as just a tiny slice of its readership. I’m looking for one person, an aggressive and serious one who is willing to take on the bullies. This blog, while not a big-bucks operation, can pay you for your time as required, and you will also receive my wholehearted endorsement and recommendation if you want your firm’s information to be public. Ideally, this would become a recurring story as we document the progress of our fight.

Who’s in?

Update: I’ve found my great lawyer! After dozens of responses from attorneys in all sorts of firms, I have had an amazing crash course in first amendment law over the last 24 hours. What strikes me is how incredibly baseless the threats seem to be – they directly contradict everything the best lawyers around are telling me the law says! One of the cited precedent cases in that second letter turned out to be about an old couple with a leaky roof, and had no relationship to defamation at all.

I have chosen one firm to represent the blog, and we have some response letters in the works, which I can share with you as they are finished and sent.

If you are a US attorney with expertise in this area (or are just interested in helping out), please get in touch with me through the blog’s contact form here: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/contact/

Although I am now happily represented and ready for some fun, the crowdsourcing effect of this article is amazing: we can combine knowledge from all attorneys and focus them into one case, ensuring a very good result.

Many thanks and here’s to the next three years!

Mr. Money Mustache

p.s. Kiss Trust – don’t you wish you had just left that innocent single comment alone in the forum now? And will you consider leaving all other bloggers alone from this point forward?

In response to your first threat, I documented your actions on a low-profile forum thread. The second threat encouraged me to write this article.
Then it spent some time on today’s top 10 in Hacker News.
Then the king of first amendment defenders, Ken White from Popehat tweeted it to his 12,000 twitter followers. (Thanks Ken!)
There’s currently an editing battle going on in your Wikipedia Entry between an IP address registered to your office, and somebody else who has added reference to this post. So you asked to have the whole post deleted, but Wikipedia isn’t listening to you either! (Internet etiquette tip: you’re not supposed to write your own Wikipedia entry)
And you got a good chunk of the country’s first amendment lawyers digging into your own firm and each of your law firms.

We can go a lot further on the publicity side of this, so just let us know where you want this story to appear next. It should be pretty obvious by this point that it is not me who is hurting your reputation, it is you. The more interesting you make this story, the more people will decide they want to share it. So keep making it interesting, and I’ll keep documenting!

On the other hand, when you are done punching yourself in the face, you can send me a personal apology and a promise never to do this again to anyone. I will publish it and we can all go back to our real jobs. Although your behavior is wrong right now, I have no objection to your actual trust business, and I believe in forgiveness. I think your potential customers may as well.

Update 2: This has all blown over

It didn’t take long after this post for things to go back to normal. I never heard from the company again, although I did receive second-hand word that they were pissed at the results of their attempted squelching. I also heard from the management of corporate-owned blog Get Rich Slowly that the K-trusters had sent very similar legal harassment to them over an honest review of the company’s products. What a bunch of bullshit. Glad it is over but we remain vigilant for the next battle.

  • Justin March 11, 2014, 4:52 pm

    I don’t know if this is something the UCLA might even be interested in, being a free speech issue.

    • tom March 11, 2014, 6:01 pm

      You mean the ACLU? If so, I agree.

      • Free Money Minute March 12, 2014, 6:01 am

        I agree. Fight them on this and make it known that this will not be tolerated.

      • Jack March 12, 2014, 6:50 pm

        The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is probably even more likely to be interested.

      • Peter March 13, 2014, 12:31 am

        Given the first letter talks about the “DCMA”, I think the UCLA might be the appropriate organization.

        • Nate March 13, 2014, 8:19 am

          Hahha, nice.

          Anyone currently involved with a lawsuit, please don’t say ANYTHING about it EVER on a public website. Any statement you make online or on facebook could come back to get you in trouble!

          • Chris March 20, 2014, 7:59 pm

            @nate curious about your comment as I was mailed a Demand letter and served a summons to respond from a company.

            What is wrong with stating facts after a decision has been made?


            Stating facts before a decision has been made?


        • Mike March 21, 2014, 3:28 pm

          Amusingly enough, and as I think the commentor’s quotes suggest, it’s the DMCA (short for Digital Millennium Copyright Act), not DCMA. And that’s the company’s error – not the above commentor’s. How embarrassing to not even know the name of the law you’re trying to use to silence the internet.

      • Robert Shinn March 13, 2014, 11:16 am

        I think we should get the YMCA involved

    • Will S. March 11, 2014, 6:07 pm

      UCLA is a university in Los Angeles, California. Maybe the ACLU could get involved, seeing as how this has to do with civil liberties.

    • Mark March 11, 2014, 7:38 pm

      Coach Wooten would have been great, but sadly he has passed.

    • Harry March 12, 2014, 7:03 am

      Just FYI it is not a free speech issue. That only apply to government censorship, there is no right to not be (frivolously or not) sued for speech.

      • Peter H March 12, 2014, 10:46 am

        When you sue someone, you are asking the court (i.e. government) to enforce a restriction on speech. NY Times Co. v. Sullivan is the seminal case on this, holding that the first amendment does apply to private lawsuits for defamation.

    • Jo March 13, 2014, 11:10 am

      Well of course you’re being targeted. Corporate America can’t have you out there telling people how to succeed and/or avoid getting ripped off.

      • SZQ March 14, 2014, 6:29 pm

        LOL! Of course!! What a bunch of scumbags.

    • imelda April 13, 2014, 8:58 am

      The issue is really not as simple as it seems. MMM is lucky to live in the USA, which is the absolute ONLY country in the world that provides such blanket protection to website owners. He would run into serious trouble in almost any other country in the world – see this recent decision from the European Court of Human Rights: http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37287/en/european-court-strikes-serious-blow-to-free-speech-online

  • Taryl Andersen March 11, 2014, 4:52 pm

    who are these mother fuckers? we’ll boycott them!!

    • CTY March 11, 2014, 5:11 pm

      A boycott is something I can get behind. I love sticking it to “the man”. We’ll boycott them and all their affiliates.

  • Miss Growing Green March 11, 2014, 4:55 pm

    Oh please! I cannot believe someone is threatening to sue you over this. It seems so immoral and wrong. I fully hope they have nothing to stand on. Good luck MMM!

    • LennStar March 12, 2014, 2:47 am

      unfortunately with unmoral thinks you can sue-get a lot of money. The modus operandi is:

      Find a webpage where something “bad” is written. Sue. Get a settlement and collect money.
      Settlement because an actual trial cost time and money if you lose.

      Mostly its small pages that get attacked, because they cant defend themselves. But sometimes “law firm” wants to get big money fast or just has not looked into it (more likely) and underestimated the enemy.

  • Marcio March 11, 2014, 4:58 pm

    I AM in! Although I’m not a lawyer I would gladly contribute to the fees. Set up a donation center! Best regards.

    • The Stoic March 12, 2014, 8:05 am

      I would get behind this as well. Although the website generates income for you I think the readership gets tremendous value from this resources and it is worth defending. I would gladly contribute with others in defending the rights of this website as well as you and your family.

    • antigravity March 12, 2014, 11:10 am

      Count me in on that! For all that MMM has done to help me and my family, the least I can think to do is contribute to helping him and his family.

    • Carol March 13, 2014, 12:08 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. This is an issue that indirectly affects us all. I would be happy to contribute towards legal fees as well. Go get em MMM!

    • JMC March 20, 2014, 10:42 am

      Agreed. Plenty of us would contribute.

      MMM, please do not worry, there are a lot of us behind you willing to open up our wallets to help out.

  • Raina March 11, 2014, 5:02 pm

    What a bunch of ass-wipes!! As soon as feasible name and shame them and they need to be boycotted. They need to clearly understand the wrath that social media can inflict! I thought the U.S. was a country where free speech is touted as embodying the soul of the constitution – obviously NOT! The only way to deal with a bully is to mercilessly hit back.

  • Grant March 11, 2014, 5:02 pm

    If it is speculative and opportunistic, they may very well back down after this post, which would kind of be a shame.

    If costs start escalating, I’m sure there are a number here that would contribute a small amount via a croud funding site.

    • Henrik March 11, 2014, 10:11 pm

      I would gladly pitch in to fight a company that is against freedom of speech on the internet!

  • Lionheart March 11, 2014, 5:04 pm

    What is the forum of the threatened litigation? Federal court? State court? If none has been specified the jurisdiction could be based on the subject matter (federal question= federal court) or place of residence or operation. If they are suing your company it would be the place of that companies operation. If they’re suing you personally (and your wife?) it would be based on personal jurisdiction, i.e. in the state of your domicile.

  • MR March 11, 2014, 5:06 pm

    Sounds like this company is pretty shortsighted. I can see this backfiring on them. Good for you for walking the walk!

  • Jim March 11, 2014, 5:11 pm

    When you get to the top you always become a target in any business. Not surprising and actually happens every day. I wish you well and hope you get the best legal representation. Bullies unfortunately have been the American way for business for all of our countries history. Life is not fair but I hope you come out on top of this battle.

    • Done by Forty March 11, 2014, 11:31 pm

      Well put, Jim. I hate that it is that way, but there’s a moral hazard in litigation against entities with big pockets. It’s often easier (and cheaper) to settle.

  • A fan March 11, 2014, 5:16 pm

    Sounds like plain scare tactics. MMM, please let us know who these bullies are so we will NEVER use their products. You should receive a fucking medal for what you did for people around the world – not legal threats.

    I honestly believe that this company will suffer big time if they become known as “the guys who tried to shut down MMM”.

    Please keep us posted, I wish I could help.

  • Laura March 11, 2014, 5:17 pm

    What the… it sure is fascinating that a company thinks that have a lawsuit over comments about their company which they don’t like. I’m not a lawyer, but it just seems like a scare tactic, as in they’re hoping that you’ll just quietly take down the content which they don’t like. People are constantly bashing companies they don’t like (and praising the ones they do like!) on twitter, facebook, amazon reviews, etc. Welcome to the Internet.

    Anyway, that would be great if a reader of your blog is able to help you out in fighting this potential lawsuit.

  • Lee March 11, 2014, 5:19 pm

    I find it interesting that they didn’t research this blog and its owner a little further before attempting legal action, seems to me like you’d be the wrong wrong person to mess with. I think that in today’s age crowd sourcing has proven to be an extremely effective means to solving problems. You have a pretty good size venue to crowd source on, and not to mention the the right scope of readership.
    I guarantee in no time you’ll have droves of highly competent, aggressive, and like minded lawyer types beating down your email doors in a bid to represent you. Good luck and eff that company.

  • Brandon Curtis March 11, 2014, 5:20 pm

    Wait a minute…

    didn’t we kill SOPA and PIPA to stop EXACTLY this from happening?

    Doesn’t 47 U.S.C. §230 wipe out any claim they might be making?


    “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

    • Chris March 11, 2014, 5:28 pm

      The “publisher privilege” under 47 USC 230 would absolutely bar any liability on the part of MMM, unless a court finds that he has solicited, encouraged, or adopted libelous statements as his own. However, merely providing a forum on which a statement is posted cannot give rise to liability.

      Also, for a quick (and entertaining) overview of responding to the threat of a defamation lawsuit, I suggest reading the following post by Ken of Popehat, who is both a skilled First Amendment lawyer and prolific blogger: http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/26/so-youve-been-threatened-with-a-defamation-suit/

      • imsharper March 12, 2014, 10:56 am

        Love this link … what a wonderful down-to-earth explanation!!!
        And it was hillarious …

        I wish I was a lawyer in the US as well… sounds like MMM is going to have some fun… I don’t think you have anything to worry about and look forward to MMM being on page 1 of Google searches something related to “donkey balls” :p

      • Eric Arrr March 12, 2014, 2:26 pm

        ^ THIS THIS THIS

        Keep calm, do nothing, and read the linked post at Popehat.

        Long story short, if Mr. Williams sent me a letter like that, he’d probably be on the receiving end of a bar complaint already.

  • biscuitwhomper March 11, 2014, 5:26 pm

    I usually don’t comment, but am doing so today to tell you we have your back. Stay calm, collected, and strong against these people. If you need funding, we will help.

  • Mr. Cash March 11, 2014, 5:26 pm

    Just know that you have the support of all your readers! Hopefully this bump in the road will get resolved quickly and you come back with lots of new Mustachian lessons!

  • MattW March 11, 2014, 5:31 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever said this before: I wish I were a lawyer.

    • bwall March 11, 2014, 7:41 pm


      Me too…..

      • KarenwithaC March 11, 2014, 8:16 pm


  • James Reel March 11, 2014, 5:36 pm

    I am not an attorney, but as a journalist I dealt with several bully lawyers (not bully in the Teddy Roosevelt sense), mainly unfounded allegations of copyright or trademark infringement (using a headline phrase that was kind of close to their client’s trademarked tagline, or forgetting to capitalize a trademarked name that is often used in common parlance). In copyright matters, the lawyers are just establishing evidence that they are “defending” the mark in case a real threat should ever come up, and they can be safely ignored. Your case, Mr. MM, seems a bit different. The complaint may be groundless, but the lawyers may be counting on your being unable to cover the costs of a legal battle–the court costs alone can be astronomical–and you will therefore do what they command. It’s also possible that the forum member’s comments could truly be considered libelous, which gives the evil lawyers more leverage. We’re all on your side, but listen carefully to your own attorney’s advice, which may in the end be to cave. After all, the last thing you want to do is go back to an imposed work schedule for another 10 years to recoup your losses! He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.

  • crazyworld March 11, 2014, 5:38 pm

    I would totally chip in to fight this if needed; ridiculous!! Good luck MMM!

  • Eldred March 11, 2014, 5:45 pm

    I’ve forwarded this along to a couple of lawyers I know. Hopefully it helps.

  • Nicholas Sarwark March 11, 2014, 5:50 pm

    It’s not my area of law, but I would suggest reaching out to the Electronic Frontier Foundation or the guys at Popehat. This kind of stuff is what they deal with regularly and they can get you connected with the kind of First Amendment lawyer you’ll need.

    Best of luck!

  • Jordan Read March 11, 2014, 5:53 pm

    We’ve got your back MMM! And, just in case, you may want to back up the site and databases. I imagine the guy who set you up with your current hosting can do it, or you can reach out. Don’t want MMM to go the way of “Long Term Returns”. Not a lawyer, but I can be pretty damn annoying when I choose to use my powers for…um, fun/good/evil.

  • Ragnar March 11, 2014, 6:05 pm

    Just another testament to the sort of hubris that big business sometimes leads to. I’m glad you have the capacity to fight off this sort of ridiculous attempts to silence criticism, as it’s disheartening to see the “little guy” simply forced to surrender out of fear of being dragged into a costly legal battle.

    Good luck MMM.

  • Jackie March 11, 2014, 6:10 pm

    Awwww shit!

  • Pretired Nick March 11, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Interesting. It’d be good to have some legal assistance, but it’s worth understanding that a lot of manipulation occurs via empty legal threats. When I was a journalist, someone was threatening libel every day. But the saying was until the lawsuit was filed, it was safely ignored.
    This company may not like its legal firm dragging its brand into a PR mess and will likely back off with some public exposure. Check out what happened with The Honest Company for example.

    • Becky March 12, 2014, 1:14 pm

      Agreed – my advice to clients with scary letters from law firms: don’t panic until you receive notice of an actual law suit. Once you receive it, there will still be time to get a lawyer and get the case in order – there’s no such thing as a legal emergency!

  • livingafi March 11, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Glad to see you standing up to the man. I can understand some of the FUD you might be feeling, but it seems pretty clear that you’re in the right on this.
    Stay strong — ‘stache strong.

  • Blaine March 11, 2014, 6:28 pm

    This is an interesting chain of letters back and forth from the editor of AnxietyCulture.com that is somewhat of a similar bullshit trademark troll law firm: http://www.anxietyculture.com/finks.htm

    Good luck. I fear this happens way more than any of us realize. Most of the time we don’t hear about it. Good for you for standing up MMM!

  • I.P. Daley March 11, 2014, 6:39 pm

    MMM, this sort of thing is sort of smack dab in the center of the EFF’s wheelhouse. It might not be a bad idea to research with them and then reach out to them to see what they have to say (in addition to what you’re doing currently).

    Honestly, your biggest gun in this is 47 USC § 230, or “Section 230” of the Communications Decency Act, which states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”


    Good hunting, and best of luck.

    • Jordan Read March 11, 2014, 7:03 pm

      Great minds, Daley…
      I already started poking about there, and shot an email pointing them to this post. :)

  • Thomas March 11, 2014, 6:44 pm

    Hope you’re able to fight this MMM. I love a small guy vs big guy story. This will help all of us trying to freely share our opinions online. Good luck!

  • Tim March 11, 2014, 6:57 pm

    I see from my RSS feed you’ve already begun to cave. DONT DO IT! You just broke step 6 from the popehat link above.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 11, 2014, 10:09 pm

      Haha.. but I did it only after getting a lot of legal advice in advance. We’ve done the research, this post is the first step in a coordinated action, rather than an impulsive action. We’ll see if I screw it up :-)

  • Steve March 11, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Further proof that there are too many lawyers out there, and not enough work for them. They all have quotas they have to meet each month…billable hours. You don’t meet the quota, you don’t have a job anymore.

    Why anyone would want to become a lawyer, doctor, or other high-profile career person these days is beyond me!

    Keep your life simple. Don’t get married, don’t have kids, don’t buy a house unless you plan on dying in it, and never trust anyone. You can thank reality shows for this cynical attitude!

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 11, 2014, 10:07 pm

      Hmm.. I’ve never watched reality TV shows, which may explain why my own beliefs are exactly the opposite of your last paragraph.

      And going back to the second paragraph, being a high-profile career person sounds pretty great too – as long as you enjoy your work and practice it according to your true values.

  • Peony March 11, 2014, 7:01 pm

    So, did these brilliant lawyers actually write “libelious” rather than libelous? Or was that your typo?

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 11, 2014, 10:33 pm

      Oops, no, that was my own brilliance. Fixed it now – thanks :-)

  • Drew March 11, 2014, 7:02 pm

    Taking donations for legal fees? I’m sure many of us can pitch in.

  • insourcelife March 11, 2014, 7:03 pm

    Too bad the thread was taken down. Would love to know what started it all and which company is this stupid.

    • SilentButDeadly March 12, 2014, 7:45 am

      This being the internet – it is impossible to remove these kind of things. Even forum postings taken down will continue to show up in Google searches.

      MMM, I have some advice, having been a participant in the legal system on several occasions (infer what you will…).

      You will need to take some serious time to vet an attorney. Personal recommendations work well, but they are not as solid as you may think, since every case is different, but ideally you need someone who knows your field, and your state’s laws regarding the matter. As with many other DIY matters, while I don’t recommend pro se-ing it, you still have to effectively be your own lawyer and research statutes & case law, because there are many terrible lawyers out there. Think of it this way – attorneys are knowledgeable about how to use the system they work in, which may seem foreign to us – however, their quality greatly resembles the rest of the workforce, in that maybe 5-10% are top tier and know how to use the system, “work” the system, and interpret/win/kick-ass your case without breaking a sweat. The rest you need to stay away from.

      Lawyers love to write each other love notes back and forth. This is how they earn the bulk of their fees in civil matters. Most of this stuff is pure nonsense, nitpicking about the other side’s factual points (which come into play should an actual trial occur). Do not get sucked into one of these situations. In reality, you do not even have to respond to another lawyer’s baseless claims. In my line of business (managing commercial properties) I have received more than a dozen or so vague legal threats, with none coming to an actual trial. In most cases I ignore them. Unless you are filing a legal complaint, I could give two shits about what your attorney has to say. In a few cases where specific events or items were referenced, I personally sent what I would call a “go fuck yourself” letter, calling them out for bullshit (and calling their bluff). Ambulance chasers and those fishing for your insurance to pay out do not want to deal with iffy cases where the other side shows they are aggressive, as with most things – your blog included, it’s all about the money. If they see little possibility of a payday, or a difficult one at that, they’re going to cut and run. Many of these letters are bluffs.

      Again this is my experience, so get some other opinions. I did have one case where I am the plaintiff in a civil matter. This one is so black-and-white it’s not funny, but the other party is a wealthy I-don’t-give-a-shit kind of person. This was a breach of contract where the other party did not even bother to read the contract he signed. If 100 people were to look at it, 100 would come to the same conclusion. The result? He knew he was going to lose, so he took the delay option. 10 years later it is still in the courts (at the state Appellate level). He’s still going to lose, and at this point my company will be lucky to get 25% back of what it cost us. For me it’s a principles thing and a point of pride to put this guy in his place (turns out he’s done what he did to me several times to other people, has bankrupted LLC he’s owned to avoid paying), and he’s never paid for it. I was able to get to pierce his LLC and onto him personally because it was a matter of fraud, so when I do finally get my judgement after his fruitless appeal he will either have to pay, give up a size-able asset or declare bankruptcy.

      Had I known it would go this way from the start, I would not have pursued it. I learned a lot about lawyers (dumped my first one before we came to trial, since it was clear he was not competent). In summation, pursuing a legal case where the other party is willing to defend themselves (even with sure-loser cases) if an ordeal and anyone willing to go that path with a sure-fire loser has got some rocks in their head. I don’t know the title you are talking about, but from what a brief cursory review of the internets (for whatever that’s worth) reveals, it seems to be iron-clad that they have no cases against you (hopefully you’ll have a competent attorney agree). In that case you can likely threaten to sue back with a counterclaim for your expenses for the frivolity and abuse of the legal system. I have seen this happen too – depends on the jurisdiction, hard to generalize. Sometimes, I’m told, the “I know what you’re up to and I’ll make you pay” stance will stop them dead in their tracks. All these legal threats are just worthless paper and have no meaning or place should an actual trial take place – that’s why they will be vague if written by someone who knows what they’re doing. Disprovable statements will put them in the corner from the outset, and since they know they have no case, sometimes you need to call their bluff.

      Good Luck!

  • Another mustachian March 11, 2014, 7:33 pm

    MMM I’m so incredibly pissed after reading this!! We’ll fight this fight with you!

    • other Scott March 12, 2014, 12:12 pm

      As Warren Zevon famously sang: Send lawyers, guns, and money! … the shit has hit the fan!

  • Scott March 11, 2014, 7:34 pm

    Don’t forget to look into any potential liability insurance coverage that you may have — if coverage exists, your insurance company can handle and defend the claims on your behalf, including paying for a lawyer to represent you.

    For insurance purposes, it doesn’t matter whether these claims have merit or not. If coverage exists, the insurer has to defend you.

    Many people are unaware that their homeowner’s policies typically provide coverage for defamation and libel, so at least consider that. If you maintain any insurance coverage for your business pursuits including this website, check that as well.

    If there’s any question about whether coverage might exist, simply tender the claim to your insurance company and put the ball in their court. Let them explain their coverage position to you. Notify them sooner rather than later, because your policy requires prompt notice of claims, and it’s also in your interest to get them involved early.

    • aw March 13, 2014, 9:50 am

      Agreed!! My first call would be to my insurance company. I”m speaking from experience with a lawsuit.

      Please listen to Scott’s comment and contact your insurance company without delay.

      Your insurance company will pay for everything and you won’t have to spend a cent.

      A side note – this is why you need an umbrella policy to protect your savings.

      Also agree that hiring a “good” lawyer is a crapshoot. Every call you make to them will cost you $200. Adds up to tens of thousands very, very fast. You’re in the right on this, but lawsuits will kill you mentally and emotionally, not to mention financially. Don’t put your family through it unless you’re prepared for every possible scenario including agreeing to a settlement that is the farthest thing from fair and right; and the possibility of losing. There is no such thing as “fair and right” in our civil litigation system. There’s only “pay another $200” for your lawyer to file a memo.

      So RUN to your insurance agent and file a claim. They’ll hire the lawyer and pay for everything. And insurance companies always hire hitmen for lawyers — they don’t lose!

      Good luck!

  • kelly March 11, 2014, 7:40 pm

    right now I wish you had a like feature so I could like every comment so far! Kick their lily-livered Arses!!!!! Behind you 1trillion percent!

  • bwall March 11, 2014, 7:40 pm

    So a corporation files a suit against and anti-consumerism/consumption blog. Oh, the irony!

    I think I see a good ol’ fashion ass-whuppin’ coming .. .. and it ain’t gonna be MMM’s!

  • Genevieve Hawkins March 11, 2014, 7:47 pm

    Interesting. My uncle is a lawyer, and I think a pretty good one, so if you’re still looking for someone I’ll run it by him. My own lawsuit story about corporacracy– some years ago I was writing stories about small cap stock tickers for a company called FinancialWire, maybe 10 or 15 little blurbs a day. I knew obviously to say nothing bad about a company unless it was backed by a material fact (XYZ Corp’s shares dropped 15% is a material fact, for example, but even then my editor encouraged me to tread lightly about anything in a negative vein). One day in writing my 10 or 15 blurbs I read something wrong, and said in my article that some subsidiary company was owned by ABC Corp when in fact the subsidiary was owned by XYZ Corp. Someone at corporate office read this, I stupidly told my editor that the error had been my fault (I’d layered something from one of the other 10 articles I’d written that day in–call it a brain fart). My editor issued an apology, retracted the article, but he did mention (stupidly) that the error was with the writer. I did not think anything of this until several months later I started getting phone calls and a letter saying that some law firm was seeking damages for my misrepresentation of XYZ Corp!
    I was terrified…I have the farthest thing from deep pockets. So I called my uncle (the lawyer), and here was his advice. “Ignore them. Do not talk to them at all. Make no admission or denial. A lot of law firms are just looking for deep pockets. They send out frivolous lawsuits. A lot of people get scared and just send them money for a settlement! Or they hunt for a lawyer, who can clear it all up but at a price. In your case there’s not enough skin in the game for a lawyer. Don’t even bother. Throw the letters in the trash, hang up the phone when they call you–immediately–and it will go away.”
    I did just that–never answering the complaint–and sure enough it disappeared. It’s like trolls feeding off a response–they want to hit you hard and have you lash back in some unprofessional way. That’s gold to them. I think the claim is as baseless as the one made against me was…

  • Queen of Fifty Cents March 11, 2014, 7:54 pm

    Sorry, I’m not a lawyer (I’m sure one will turn up soon) but just hang in there. We went through something similar when a college whose name is very similar to my husband’s name sent him a cease and desist order. For using his own name he’s had for over 60 years! (Longer than the college has been around for sure.) They blustered and threatened and it was a bit intimidating but it didn’t take a whole lot to stop them since it was so ridiculous.

    You have the law on your side. Let free speech stay free!

  • Philip Mallory March 11, 2014, 8:01 pm

    I also recomend you contact Ken White of popehat.com: http://www.brownwhitelaw.com/attorneys/kwhite.html

    Finding legal assistance for bloggers who are being harassed on spurious grounds is a regularly occurring theme on his blog.

  • KarenwithaC March 11, 2014, 8:21 pm

    I think that company just opened up a big ol’ can of whoop ass! I’m sorry that you and your family are being hassled like this. It really is the most ironic situation I could imagine. Let us know if there is anything the Mustachian community can do to help!

  • Tim March 11, 2014, 8:30 pm

    Like you say, this is groundless bullying. I work for the government right now, so I can’t help you. However, send an email here: ken@popehat.com

    Ken White, at http://www.popehat.com/, and his national readership of First Amendment attorneys have helped numerous other bloggers, I believe pro bono. They might be able to help – even shine the Popehat Signal!

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 11, 2014, 9:56 pm

      Thanks Tim! I did actually exchange an email with that very same Ken earlier today. He wrote back right away, and as of 10PM this evening I’ve heard from several other lawyers (although I’d love to get more emails – keep ’em coming!). I am more encouraged that we are in for some fun, every minute.

      • MoneyAhoy March 12, 2014, 8:21 am


        Complete bullshit!!! I am glad you are standing your ground and fighting back. I would look for a way to counter sue the bastards Larry Flint style!

        Also, this is one of the main reasons I created a LLC for all of my blogging adventures. To protect my personal assets from any kind of frivolous attack. If you haven’t already, you may want to consider the same. The cost is low compared to the risk you face, especially as your blog continues to grow.

        Good luck!

      • Big Guy Money March 12, 2014, 8:22 am

        “I am more encouraged that we are in for some fun, every minute.”

        This comment epitomizes why you’ve been able to do what you’ve been able to do. You verbalize many of the thoughts that go through my mind, and I’d imagine most of your readers minds. I’d also contribute if you decide to start taking donations.

      • PavelR March 12, 2014, 11:47 am

        Really looking forward to the fun this will generate.

      • Peter H March 12, 2014, 1:21 pm

        Popehat is one of my favourite blogs (alongside this one). I have high expectations for the two of you converging on a worthy project of ass kicking and name taking.

      • Bren Darrow March 12, 2014, 4:24 pm

        As a lawyer who is fascinated by this area of law (but only practices in CA) I want to put in a plug for Mark Randazza over at the Legal Satyricon. http://randazza.wordpress.com/

        His blog is excellent, his briefs are irreverent and well-reasoned, and I would bet that as a fellow blogger he would have a special sensitivity to this sort of crap. He’s often on NPR talking about these sorts of lawsuits, you guys seem like you would get along. Here’s his firm’s website: http://randazza.com/first-amendment-law/

  • James March 11, 2014, 8:49 pm

    Keep up the good work MMM. Just found your blog two weeks ago, so I hope it keeps going strong.

  • Matt March 11, 2014, 9:18 pm

    I am a lawyer, and while this “claim” is likely entirely bogus, you are right to take it at least a little bit seriously. Lawyers love to write strongly worded letters, filled with veiled and not so veiled threats of legal action. Much of the time, the attorneys writing these letters know (or should know) that while their pseudo-legal threats are scary and often prompt action by the recipients, they would be very unlikely to prevail if they actually brought an action. They should also know that using their license to bully people with frivolous claims is unethical, and could get their license to practice law suspended or revoked in most states. Still, if there weren’t enough nimrods out there willing to bring frivolous lawsuits, people wouldn’t have so many complaints about lawyers. The problem with being sued in many cases is not that you might lose, but that you will likely lose thousands of dollars to prove what everyone already knew: you were right, and these guys are a bunch of sour-grapes bullies who should spend more time keeping customers happy, and less time hiring lawyers to try to make bloggers deleted comments from their website.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 11, 2014, 9:54 pm

      Thanks Matt!

      Although I’ll try not to waste too much money on proving the Forum users and I are right, I AM prepared to do so if necessary.

      If something like this happened to me in private and it were just a matter of backing down on something to prevent a pointless fight, I’d do it for the sake of efficiency.

      However, in this case we have a chance to fight back and discourage a shady practice, in front of millions of people. Maybe even save a few hundred other people from being harassed in the future.

      Now THAT is definitely worth thousands of dollars to me.

      • Laura aka "Mrs. Nickels" March 11, 2014, 9:58 pm

        Exactly. I’d be willing to help, as I’m sure many of us Mustachians would. I’m hoping that the simple fact that it’s so frivolous will cause it to go away, but if not, we’re a sizable enough community that we could certainly crowd-fund like crazy!

      • Dakota March 11, 2014, 10:51 pm

        Well said! Sticking to your guns, as always. This reminds me of the credit card company that didn’t like Badassity that you told to get lost. Stand up for what matters, tell it like it is and set an example – that’s true inspiration.

        Along with the others, I’d love to contribute to a fund to pay a lawyer to fight these piss ant mofos. Just let us know! We’ve got your back.

      • WageSlave March 12, 2014, 11:26 am

        “However, in this case we have a chance to fight back and discourage a shady practice, in front of millions of people. Maybe even save a few hundred other people from being harassed in the future. Now THAT is definitely worth thousands of dollars to me.”

        It’s worth a lot to me too, so count me in as another who can’t help with legal advice (not a lawyer), but willing to help pay for legal fees.

      • kathleen March 12, 2014, 5:27 pm

        AMEN! I can’t wait to hear what happens next — how many letters is that firm going to get? Way to take a stand, dude.

    • Daniel March 11, 2014, 10:54 pm

      Dear Mr. Mustache, I am a fan of your blog and I agree with attorney Matt . The bullying lawyer in question is much more experienced, financed and professionally invested in “winning” this game (and “winning” means, I’m sure, wasting you precious time and money).

      The best way for you to win this game is to not play. Even if you were a HLS grad, defending Ecuadorian Indians from a heinous corporation, keep in mind that when you get between a company and their profit, they can be ruthless. Don’t let them tempt you to sink to their level. Shake it off, turn the page.

  • Meghan March 11, 2014, 9:21 pm

    This is the point where you go from a blogger who I value to someone I think is absolutely fing fantastic. I live in VA. It’s a hell hole compared to Longmont. No wonder they are so pissy.

  • Chris March 11, 2014, 9:24 pm

    Hang in there MMM and good on you for standing your ground. I’m happy to contribute to your legal fund.

  • fuzz March 11, 2014, 9:40 pm

    Ditto on chipping in for a legal defense fund.

  • The Lulu March 11, 2014, 9:41 pm

    Hey Mr. Money,

    Love your blog!

    I’m a lawyer and while this is not my area of expertise, it sounds like there may be grounds for a Federal Rule 11 violation for a frivolous or groundless lawsuit. In which case you should demand attorneys fees.

    That’s my frugal tip for you.

    • lecodecivil March 12, 2014, 6:19 am

      They haven’t sued yet – this is just at the demand letter stage. Rule 11 doesn’t apply.

  • Elizabeth Johnson March 11, 2014, 9:50 pm

    Looks like a bunch of potential “life instructors” but this time you are experienced and ready.

  • Henrik March 11, 2014, 10:08 pm

    Someone have obviously not figured out how the internet works. A small comment in a forum that not many have read (What happened to Freedom of speech by the way? And why does one have to be responsible for others speech?) and now they want to blow it up so that everybody gets to know this. If the name of the company comes out (as it always will) it will be far worse than having a small comment in a forum.


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