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Comment: Yeah, that was a trip

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Michael Nystrom's picture

Yeah, that was a trip

- I don’t know why this thread was bumped this morning when I got up, but here’s another bump -

The day I posted this thread was the day I found out I’d been sued. In the early comments, people told me to ignore service, which is the best advice I got. Ultimately, that is how I beat it. Righthaven tried to serve me twice - each time, I pretended I wasn't home.

Ultimately how I beat Righthaven was by avoiding service. The only reason I knew to do that was because of the advice I received from Daily Paulers, both on the website, and through private emails. Righthaven tried to serve me twice. Each time I refused to answer the door. My lawyer told me not to share this at the time, but considering Righthaven is now defunct and bankrupt, I think that moratorium is over.

During that period of time, fall of 2010 into the winter of 2011, I was so paranoid that the process server was going to be waiting for me when I got home. A friend of mine who got sued (it is surprising how many people I know have gotten sued) said that is what happened to him. He pulled into his driveway one night after a long day of work, only to find the process server there waiting for him with the papers. There was no way to avoid him.

Based on that story, I was completely paranoid every time I came back home. Whether driving or on foot, I would do a visual sweep of the street, looking for any unfamiliar cars and people. On more than a few occasions, I got to my house and just kept right on going. It was nerve-wracking, but it was also kind of exciting. It was like being a character in a movie.

But the process server who was after me wasn't that aggressive. The second time he came, it was early on a weekday morning, around 7:00am. My apartment was on the second floor apartment of a duplex, and I was fast asleep in bed when I heard the soft knocking on the front door. After his first attempt at service several weeks earlier, I had unplugged the doorbell.

Alert, I listened intently from bed, wondering if the soft knocking would turn into a hard rapping, and then a violent pounding. Another friend of mine who had gotten sued told me the story of how she tried hiding in the closet when the process server came, only to have him start banging on the outside walls of her house, yelling: “I know you’re in there! Come out now! I know you’re in there!” He went on like this, around the entire perimeter of the house, until she came out.

This is something I wanted to avoid.

But his knocking did not get louder - it only persisted. I got up and got dressed as quietly as possible and went to the window. The mini blinds were drawn, and a dreary dawn was just breaking on an overcast morning. From the vantage point of my window, I could see the front street, but not my front door, which around the side of the house, off the driveway. I stood at the window in the dusky room, and carefully lifted one of the blinds the minutest amount and watched the street.

Eventually, the process server tired of knocking, and emerged from the driveway. He looked up at the house, and I swear to god he looked right at me, directly into my eye through my little crack in the blind. He stood there staring at me in his dark jacket and baseball cap. I froze. I didn’t dare drop the blind for fear that he would see the movement, and know that I was there. The house was dark and still. For all he knew, I had already left for work.

So I just stared back at him. Money must be tight for him to have to take a job like this. He wasn’t qualified for it. Banging on the sides of a house, yelling at the top of your lungs is how you get a job like this done. Waiting for hours in an empty driveway, like a spider, is how you get this job done. You don’t get this job done by meekly tapping on the door, then walking away after 15 minutes when they don’t answer.
He began to walk away, but then stopped short, as if he were Columbo, changing his mind, and briskly walked back, looking up at the window. He paced back and for like this a few times, like a cat - a big caged cat in a zoo, who resented being there - trying to make up his mind. Eventually, he did, and walked back to his car and got inside. I kept watch through my little slit in the blind until he started it up and drove away.

My whole plan was to continue avoiding service until Righthaven’s claim lapsed. From my lawyer, I knew that if I wasn’t served in 120 days, the case would be dropped, based on procedure. I knew that Righthaven was sloppy. They were an assembly line lawsuit factory, attempting to use our “Justice” system as a cash machine. For them it was a numbers game: Scare enough people who are ignorant of the law, threaten to take their domain name - completely unjustified, but who is Joe Sixpack to know? Then get them to cough up some change to make the problem go away. Their business model in a nutshell could be summed up as: “BOO! Give me some money!”

I knew that. I understood that. I’d talked to several lawyers at length about it. I’d looked at it from every angle. There was no way I was getting out of it without paying money - whether it was to Righthaven or to a legal defense team. The only possible way out was to avoid service. My lawyer advised against it. If it could be shown that I was intentionally avoiding service, that would be bad. And Righthaven could tack on extra fees to cover all the incompetent process servers they sent out to get me, and who failed to do their jobs.

I was clearly stuck.

And then, something just like out of a movie happened. Like when the main character is trapped and doomed, about to be eaten by a dinosaur, and he closes his eyes and accepts his fate and then, out of nowhere comes a bigger, meaner dinosaur that eats the one that was about to eat me. That is exactly what happened.

What happened was the EFF responded to Righthaven on behalf of the Democratic Underground, and filed a massive countersuit. Suddenly, Righthaven had a serious issue on its hands that it had to deal with.
Weeks went by without another attempt at service, then months. The Righthaven scare had peaked. I knew I was in the clear. The only thing left was to watch the clock run out.

- There is more, but now it is time for breakfast -