Stupid Nonsense Watch: Secret Deal Serves no Warning

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

John Ferron—an Ohio attorney who has apparently made a practice out of signing up for commercial e-mail programs and suing marketers over what he deems as deceptive advertising—announced last week that he settled his lawsuit against Dave Linhardt and his defunct e-mail marketing firm e360 Insight.

“The terms of Ferron’s settlement with e360Insight and Linhardt are confidential and will be filed under seal with the court,” said a release put out by Ferron. “However, Ferron is pleased with the outcome and hopes the lawsuit will serve notice to other online and e-marketers that they should review their advertising practices and bring them into compliance with all applicable laws.”

Nonsense.

Ferron sued Linhardt last November, alleging he received e-mail messages from e360 Insight offering designer goods at deeply discounted prices, but that the goods were forgeries.

As has been covered here, Linhardt has been embroiled in multiple lengthy lawsuits over his e-mail marketing, including two ongoing with Comcast and Spamhaus. His legal bills must be astronomical and he has yet to see a dime of the $11.7 million default judgment he won against Spamhaus in 2006.

It’s hard to believe Linhardt and Ferron settled for much.

For all we know, the settlement could have simply required Linhardt to bend over and say: “I’m sorry Mr. Ferron! Thank you, sir! May I please have another?” while Ferron spanks him with a wooden paddle.

Ferron has sued multiple entities over what he claims are deceptive e-mail advertisements, including Richter and satellite dish firm Echostar.

In the Echostar case, Ferron disclosed he collected 45,000 e-mail ads over six months as part of his effort to sue companies he claims are violating Ohio law, according to court records.

Ferron also disclosed in that case that he visited about 12 satellite dish sites and purposely provided his e-mail addresses to them.

The court recently dismissed Ferron’s action against Echostar co-defendant Hydra Media Group. Of course, we didn’t see a press release about that. A source inside Hydra Media said company executives considered putting out an announcement, but decided to let the matter drop.

In any case, if Ferron reaches a large-dollar settlement with Echostar and publishes the amount, or if he wins a big judgment, that might put marketers on notice.

When Microsoft settled with Scott Richter and his firm OptInRealBig in 2005 for $7 million, that certainly served notice.

But Ferron’s secret settlement with Linhardt serves no notice to marketers whatsoever other than that they should see if they can identify him on their lists and remove him.

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