Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Victoria Strauss -- Robert Fletcher's Lawsuit Against Writer Beware Ruled Frivolous

In February 2008, Robert Fletcher and his company, The Literary Agency Group (a fee-charging literary agency/editing company/vanity publishing company currently doing business as Writers' Literary Agency/AEG Publishing Group, about which Writer Beware has been receiving complaints since 2001) brought suit against me and Ann Crispin, claiming that the warnings we were providing about the company constituted defamation.

On March 18, 2009, that suit was dismissed with prejudice by the Massachusetts Superior Court, due to Fletcher's failure to respond to discovery or otherwise prosecute the lawsuit.

Subsequently, through counsel, we filed a motion in Massachusetts Superior Court seeking recovery of our legal fees and expenses. We're thrilled to announce that on July 31, 2009, our motion was granted.

The full ruling (which, despite the July date, we just received today) can be seen here, but here's the salient portion:

The plaintiffs have exhibited extreme bad faith in bringing this frivolous lawsuit for the sole purpose of causing great expense and harassment to Crispin and Strauss. Fletcher expressly states that it was his purpose in his emails. The Court concludes and finds that this case was brought in bad faith by the plaintiffs for the mere purpose of causing great inconvenience and financial costs to Crispin and Strauss (as set out in Fletcher's pre-lawsuit emails to the defendants). This case is frivolous and this Court finds so, finds that the two plaintiffs and their lawyer, Jerrold G. Neeff, knew it was frivolous before it was even commenced. This Court rules that the defendants, Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss, are entitled to have all their legal fees and expenses incurred paid to them by the plaintiffs, Robert Fletcher and The Literary Agency Group.

This Court finds the claims asserted by the plaintiffs to be wholly insubstantial, frivolous, and not advanced in good faith.


Fletcher and his companies remain the subjects of an active investigation by the Florida Attorney General's Office.

37 comments:

Mike Brendan said...

Well now, I think that calls for a victory dance!

Celina Summers said...

Praise cow! That's great news. Congratulations!

Devon Ellington said...

Congratulations! Now there's a case where the system works!

Captain Black said...

Yes! {raises fist into the air}

Nancy Rawlinson said...

Victory! Good for you!

Harry Connolly said...

Knockout!

Reesha said...

Thank goodness. I was afraid there for a moment that nonsensical people (I don't like calling people mean names no matter how awful they are) who muddy up our lives would win. Congrats!

Jim C. Hines said...

Great news! With the way the legal system works, how long do you think it will take to actually be able to collect?

Katharine Swan said...

Wow that's awesome! Please keep us updated as to whether you are able to collect.

Diana Castilleja said...

Woohooo!! Hope you can collect.

Charlie said...

Excellent!

P&E is like a bible to those, like me, that are just learning about the business. Your efforts are appriciated and needed.

Thank you!

Anna Claire said...

I hope, hope, hope you are able to collect - you absolutely deserve it! Thank you again for fighting the good fight so we writers have solid, truthful information about the publishing biz. You are appreciated!

marsupial said...

Well done.

sylvia said...

That is great news! And sets a wonderful precedent.

Mary Ann said...

That is awesome!! Woohoo! There are actually people in the legal system who give a damn about what's right!

James D. Macdonald said...

Pray do not forget that I, too, was named in that frivolous, insubstantial, bad-faith lawsuit.

Kim L said...

Congratulations! That is such a shame that by fighting the good fight you can get slapped with a lawsuit. I hope you guys keep up the awesome work you do!

Jane Smith said...

Victoria, that's brilliant news. I am so very glad! Happy dances are being performed here, I can assure you, and the cats are very scared.

SB said...

Well, I'm glad at least *one* person didn't get away with their sue-happy nature for once. Lord knows there are still many more who get away with it every day. Glad to hear that didn't happen to you.

Joel Polowin said...

Lovely!

Since the ruling specifies that Bobby's lawyer knew their lawsuit was frivolous before it was commenced, can some action be taken against him via his professional organization?

Robin Bayne said...

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!

Anna Lucia said...

Many congratulations! Lovely to see good sense victorious, and the writer protected by the precedent... Fab.

GregM said...

ROCK THE F--- ON!
So glad to see that resolved. Maybe you can hire Dog the Bounty Hunter to collect your judgment, if only for the sheer entertainment value of it.

Diana said...

WooHoo! Congratulations!

Nicola Morgan said...

Huge congratulations for standing up for truth!

Anonymous said...

As an attorney, albeit in a different State, I agree with Joel Polowin's comment. I know that Judge's in my State automatically refer any attorney involved with such a ruling to our Bar's ethics committee. The question is...do you really want to go after the attorney? How much did he actually know until the case came to head? We're supposed to take our client's words for things...even, sometimes, when we don't believe them. But, could that be part of the reason for not showing up for depositions? Attorneys are not allowed to have their clients' lie under oath. Maybe, it was not until the attorney stepped in that they refused discovery. All discovery, depositions, interrogatories, etc., are under oath and an attorney is ethically bound to NOT knowingly let a client lie under oath without revealing said lie. Think about it...maybe the failure to appear is because the attorney said they would have to be relieved or turn on them because of what is said...just food for thought.

But, I'm really glad you won and it is behind you! Sort of...now you have to find the money! ;)

Victoria Strauss said...

Thanks for all the good wishes and congratulations.

For those who wondered if we'd ever collect...that remains to be seen, but frankly, I'm not optimistic. Even if we can't, for me the most important thing is that the Court recognized the bad faith nature of the lawsuit, which was expressly intended to harass Ann and me into silence.

As to Joel's question about the attorney...that's a question we have as well, and we've asked it of people who are in a position to know the answer. It wouldn't be responsible of me to speculate--but I'll just note that it would seem to make sense for a lawyer to look into a client's background in deciding whether to accept a case. Well before the lawsuit was brought, there was substantial negative information online about Fletcher and his companies.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

Congratulations on your victory. I am very glad to see the efforts of you and Ann and James vindicated in this judgement. The service you provide is invaluable to all writers, not just s-f, and not just fiction, but to us non-fiction types as well. Thank you very much for your time and your tenacity.

Keep it up!

Victoria Strauss said...

SFWA has issued an official press release.

Stephen said...

thanks for keeping an eye out for us

Ebony McKenna. said...

Thank you for sticking to your guns.
That's a fantastic result.

JS said...

Hoo-RAW!

CatAdams said...

Woo-hoo! Way to go, ladies and gents! I'd make them pay it through the Registry of the Court. Then you know the court will follow up if they don't pay as ordered--without further motion on your part. :)

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Congratulations!

Frank Baron said...

Vic, I'll hoist one for you and Ann tonight.

Cheers!

Victoria Strauss said...

Both The Bookseller and PW have done pieces on the lawsuit. (One error in the PW piece: Writer Beware is not involved in BookLocker's lawsuit against Amazon.)

Anonymous said...

hurray, hurray. fuck you, robert fletcher the eater of dreams, and fuck all those like you.