Those who do not go away
Few of you may actually know what I am talking about, but those who have suffered from these people know the rest of this story without reading it.
None of us are Saints. If the truth be known, few if any of us have sinned enough or repented enough to even be considered, but we all have our short comings. One of our short comings is we use vague language and second we assume a great deal. This is the reality of how we as humans communicate. Now imagine this. You have initiated a commercial transaction, made some representations, and have chosen to back out. Or a competitor sees an error you made 15 years ago. Or someone you are in a commercial dispute with digs into your personal life. Then they will not go away.
In the last 6 months I have helped three people deal with “Those who do not go away”.
One woman had a medical incident involving prescription medication after surgery. She had violent hallucinations from a well know sleeping pill and tossed a small coffee table through a 10 story window in Oregon. No one outside was hurt, and she was taken to the hospital with cuts all over her body and her stitches from the previous operation she was recovering from torn open. She was in some medical trouble for several days dealing with cuts and infections. There was damage to the apartment she was renting and she was willing and able to pay for the damage. The owner of the apartment and the building manager came up with a bill of $160,000 for the damage she had caused. The owner of the apartment wanted all new flooring and furniture and the building manager wanted all new carpet in the hall way and elevator – mind you it was 15 years old. It was turned over to her lawyer who told them to pound sand and get real. $22,000 was offered. That week 40 plus web sites popped up with her picture and her past medical history and litigation history all tied to the man who had illegally rented her the apartment under a short term rental scheme when the unit was up for sale (a big no no). The lawyer wisely said – lets us just end this and invited the man to a settlement conference. The man showed up with a video crew to tape and broadcast the settlement.
In another example:
A man from Texas ingratiated himself to a professional team and began helping the team work toward some research goals. The entire group was composed of volunteers. After 5 weeks the Texan claimed all of the work done was his, and that each member of the team owed him $125,000 and that if they did not pay he was going to sue. They told him to go away – many, many times – but the mails from the Texan were coming in at 20 a day. Then the Texan reached out to every he could figure out that knew the team members from LinkedIn and Facebook and created a master list and sent everyone copies of the demands and demanded to know how these new people were screwed by the team of researchers. Then – the Texan filed suit. Lawyers started to argue facts and law and he messed with them – and wasted their time. How could he, as an amateur mess with top-notch lawyers like this? Well – a simple background check would have shown the Texan was a three-time winner of the “Go To Jail Award” and that he was an accomplished jailhouse lawyer.
One more example:
A small service company terminated several license holders for documented fraud – and left it at that. No prosecution no settlement agreements – just terminated them. The disgruntled former license holders then set up many web sites talking about their former licensor. They were all very nice and well done web sites. Mind you, every claims made on the web sites were wrong. All this went on without the real company taking notice. That was until news stories came out about the false claims being made by the licensor. The formers licensee had set up a false web site with the specific intent of baiting news organization to read the site and write negative articles. These negative articles and all of the cross references were to the fake web site were then put up in places like RedIt, Wikipedia, and 18 of blog sites we could find. They even went so far as to purchased banner ads so when the licensees name was searched a banner came to the fake web sites and the news stories.
So how does one deal with those who do not go away, those who spend all – and I do mean all waking hours on how to mess with your life and business? Truthfully a baseball bat across the shins would be fine – and would definitely get the point across. But we must rise above their level, no matter how attractive that baseball bat option becomes or its reasonable price.
The first is push the ignore button. Ignore the demands, ignore the emails ignore the rants. Take time to explain to your friends and associates that your error was to have a conversation with someone who is not well. Take pity on them and ignore them. Once the attention is gone and they find themselves in a place to be pitied and not respected – they often withdraw.
If the attacks persist and go the legal route, no matter how outlandish, the response must be settled – with a portion of funds put in escrow and paid out overtime that they forfeit if anything happens from their actions. As well as specific and large liquidated damages should any of their actions lead to a seed of problems in the future. You must settle but keep one hand on their throat.
Lastly is to take the settlement money that could have been used and wage an all out war on as many fronts as you can possibly find. Buy any judgments that they may have against them, file complaints with the neighbors, send mailers to all of their neighbors and ask them questions about the person. Consider some form of injunction against harassment early on and document each breach of the injunction. Send PI’s to video tape them (legally) – and put the tapes up on YouTube – it must be unrelenting and on many, many fronts. Alert law enforcement of what is occurring to you. Do this well in advance so you have a long story of problems for when the day comes, as the day will come, when they break the law. Then you call in the police with a long tail of woe and harassment.
You may have guessed these are not normal people. Even if you win a judgment their ability to hold down a job will be next to zero. They will not even file for bankruptcy as they lack sufficient money to pay the filing fees. These are people who do have some disorder and perseverate on a matter or a person – much like a stalker would do – but often stay just this side of the law.