This website was inspired by Phil Buckley’s post about how he was threatened with litigation over a bad internet review. I ran into his post on just the right day–a rare day when I was aggravated enough to put in the effort to tell this story.

To give every detail about my interactions with and observations of Ken Carney and Baybrook Remodelers is tempting. But to refute every false claim leveled against me would be a full time job. Hopefully, the trial will take care of that all and the truth will out. I’ve tried to keep this short.

I am being sued by Ken Carney and Baybrook Remodelers over some negative reviews I wrote that remain online, some negative reviews I wrote that were removed from online sites, some negative reviews that other people wrote, and for signs posted on another person’s house.

Here are the reviews I wrote that were still up as of the last discussion of this lawsuit:

Kudzumy merch cirThe review above is pretty poorly written, now that I really look at it. If I could edit it and clean it up, I would. But it conveys my point.

I also reviewed a hall that was owned by Ken Carney, the owner of Baybrook Remodelers. I had spent many, many hours in that hall, and so was speaking from experience.

West river hall reviewI have been in litigation over this for 2½ years and counting. Why so long? Ken Carney’s lawyer has requested and been granted 15 extensions of time. On one occasion, he went 7 consecutive months without doing what was necessary to keep his case alive, and on another occasion he went another 4 consecutive months without moving his case forward. His lawyer has had 5 chances to rewrite his lawsuit to try to fix whatever was wrong with it.

Finally, the case has a trial date. This was pushed by my lawyer, not Ken Carney’s. Based on their actions so far, Ken Carney and his lawyer would have been happy to let this go another 2½ years.

This is what New York Supreme Court Judge J. Nicholas Colabell had to say about lawsuits designed to shut people up (aka SLAPP suits):

SLAPP suits function by forcing the target into the judicial arena where the SLAPP filer foists upon the target the expenses of a defense…The purpose of such gamesmanship ranges from simple retribution for past activism to discouraging future activism…Those who lack the financial resources and emotional stamina to play out the “game” face the difficult choice of defaulting despite meritorious defenses, or being brought to their knees to settle…Persons who have been outspoken on issues of public importance targeted in such suits or who have witnessed such suits will often choose in the future to stay silent. Short of a gun to the head, a greater threat to First Amendment expression can scarcely be imagined.

The Honorable J. Nicholas Colabell is not the judge in my case. I know this because the judge in my case opined that this lawsuit had gone on long enough, and that he thought I had “made my point”. He recommended that I remove the reviews and sign a gag order agreeing to never again speak of my experience with Baybrook Remodelers. Nice, huh?

There is more to the story.

I never hired Baybrook Remodelers to do any construction or renovation, thank God. My mother, however, did. She wasn’t satisfied well before there was any bad blood between me and Baybrook. I can attest to this, for whatever my testimony would be worth (which is probably nothing). Good thing there is also ample hard evidence that she wasn’t happy with their work. Since her signs went up she learned that Baybrook did an even worse job than she realized.

I doubt that my mother has ever left an online review for anything. She calls text messages “faxes” and takes ten minutes to send one. When she decided to express her opinion about Baybrook, she took a less technological approach.

baybrook signWould she have posted this sign even if I hadn’t had such a bad experience with Baybrook? We will never know. What I can say is that this sign made her house a bit of a shrine for dissatisfied customers and bitter former employees of Ken Carney and Baybrook Remodelers. Someone should seriously start a support group.

Ken Carney wanted the signs down. I know this because Ken Carney asked the principal of the school where I taught (in a city where he has had political clout) to intercede with me on his behalf, and try to get the signs off my mother’s house. I am not sure what he expected the principal to do to try to compel me to get my mother to alter her home. My principal informed him that his request was inappropriate.

I also know the signs bothered him because shortly after they went up, I got this letter:

letter 2Forgive the coffee stains–I suspect I spit my drink out while trying to get through the first paragraph. I don’t obsess over bad grammar, but this is appalling. Words are a lawyer’s tools. This is like a plumber not knowing a wrench from a plunger. It’s not just the grammar here. The “law firm” address was a Mailboxes, Etc. The letter had a name at the bottom but no signature. The envelope was handwritten in juvenile printing. There was no letterhead.

I didn’t believe for a moment that this letter came from a lawyer. But I was wrong; it came from Ken Carney’s lawyer. It was followed by a lawsuit, in which I was sued for the signs on my mother’s house, my mother was sued for the signs on my mother’s house and we were both sued for the reviews I wrote, and we were both sued for reviews neither one of us wrote.

After being sued, my mother displayed this sign on her house as well:

bsybrook graphPersonally, I think this is more damning.

If he hadn’t sued her to try to force her to shut up, would those signs still be posted on her house? I doubt it. The coast of Milford, CT, where she and I both live, was hit hard by Irene and then Sandy. People in the neighborhood have a hard time keeping roof shingles and staircases attached to their houses, never mind plastic signs.

Eight months after her signs went up, the City of Milford, CT sued my mother to try to force the signs down, and also sent her a letter that forbid her to occupy her home because Baybrook Remodelers had allegedly never completed the paperwork or surveys needed for her to show compliance with zoning ordinances. That is a whole other part of the story that you can read about that here, if you’re interested.

5 thoughts on “About

  1. Wait, what? The judge in your case opined that this lawsuit has gone on long enough, recommended that you remove your reviews and sign a gag order? Is this the same judge who granted Ken Carney 15 extensions? Is this the same judge who will preside over the trial? Doesn’t it sound like this judge already has a firm opinion as far as letting the rich guy oppress anyone he pleases? Please, please tell me there will be a new judge at the trial. And what does your lawyer say? Why is four years an acceptable time for a lawsuit to drag out in the preliminary stages? And shouldn’t there have been a cross claim filed in your behalf? I’m so sorry, the tone of this is horrible and rude, but I am appalled.

    • I don’t find your tone at all rude. I understand your consternation. I can’t answer most of your questions.

      I am not sure whether or not lawyers in general get to stall and delay and rewrite complaints numerous times because their previous attempts were inadequate. I suspect they do, though. I think that is insane. It imposes a high cost on defendants, emotionally and financially. There may be some way this model serves justice, but I don’t see it.

      By most estimates I’ve seen, something like 90-95% of all cases, civil and criminal, never go to trial. The system would collapse if every defendant demanded her day in court. I would guess that judges are at least as frustrated by plaintiffs who bring frivolous lawsuits as they are by defendants who stand their ground. But the pressure to settle matters without having to go to trial can really only be applied to a defendant, since in our system the defendant is the only party who is ever at risk. That’s my take on it, at least.

  2. My degree is in Constitutional law. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a vexatious suit, brought with malice, not intended to settle an honest dispute but to harass and oppress you, and to suppress your Constitutionally protected opinion. Of course you can’t reply in detail in a public forum, but I sincerely hope that you and your attorney are prepared to bring action against this person. CT has no anti-SLAPP statute, but under state law you are entitled to triple damages, and the attorney is liable as well.

  3. I wish you well. David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion lasted 2010 – 2013 in Minnesota.

    This entire experience has been distressing to my family. We were initially shocked and blindsided by “jocular” comments made so soon after my father’s stroke by somebody who didn’t know us. We were overwhelmed by my being sued after posting a consumer opinion, and we were shocked by the rapidity with which it happened. It has been the 800 pound gorilla in the room. My parents would be 88-year-old witnesses. My mother and wife prefer no discussion, because they don’t want to think about it. Conversation with my father only reminds him of his anger over this situation. My siblings and children don’t often bring it up, because they don’t know how to say anything helpful. I have been demoralized by three years of being called “Defendant Laurion” in public documents. While being sued for defamation, I have been called a passive aggressive, an oddball, a liar, a coward, a bully, a malicious person, and a zealot family member. I’ve been said to have run a cottage industry vendetta, posting 108 adverse Internet postings in person or through proxies. That’s not correct. In reality, I posted ratings at three consumer rating sites, deleted them, and never rewrote them again.

    What it’s like for a patient or family member to be caught up in a case like this was already described by the plaintiff’s lawyer in a Star Tribune newspaper article, “Company sues over info put on Yahoo message board,” August 27, 2001, and repeated in http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2001/08/27/bus_321610.shtml .

    It said in part:

    [ Message-board participants have the right under the First Amendment to voice their opinions. That freedom is troublesome for companies and their legal and public-relations staffs, which wince about the complaints and scramble to correct inaccurate information that could be posted by consumers, investors, employees or competitors. “If a company sues, alleging simple business disparagement or perhaps defamation, its goal isn’t necessarily to win,” said Marshall Tanick, a First Amendment expert at Mansfield & Tanick in Minneapolis. “The strategy is to force the other person to incur huge legal expenses that will deter them and others from making such statements,” he said.

    “Companies typically shy from suing customers because it creates bad publicity. Thus, much of the legal activity involves employees or former workers. I’m seeing it happen with increasing frequency…yet very few (cases) go all the way to trial and verdict,” Tanick said.

    The plaintiff’s first contact with me was a letter that said in part that he had the means and motivation to pursue me. The financial impact of being sued three years to date has been burdensome, a game of financial attrition that I haven’t wanted to play. The suit cost me the equivalent of two year’s net income – the same as 48 of my car payments plus 48 of my house payments. My family members had to dip into retirement funds to help me.

    After receipt of a threat letter, I deleted my rate-your-doctor site postings and sent confirmation emails to opposing counsel. Since May of 2010, postings on the Internet by others include newspaper accounts of the lawsuit; readers’ remarks about the newspaper accounts; and blog opinion pieces written by doctors, lawyers, public relations professionals, patient advocates, and information technology experts. Dozens of websites by doctors, lawyers, patient advocates, medical students, law schools, consumer advocates, and free speech monitors posted opinions that a doctor or plumber shouldn’t sue the family of a customer for a bad rating. These authors never said they saw my deleted ratings – only the news coverage. Newspaper stories have caused people to call or write me to relate their own medical experiences. I’ve referred them to my lawyers. I’ve also received encouragement from other persons who have been sued over accusations of libel or slander.

    It was not my intention to use any descriptions or conclusions. It was also not my intention to claim that I had proof. Only my family and the doctor were in the room. My intention was to portray my recollection of what happened in my father’s room. The public could decide what to believe and what – if any – impact it had on them: insensitive doctor or overly-sensitive consumer?

    • Your experience is part of a growing narrative that is ever-so-slowly effecting change–or so I choose to believe. You prevailed, but it required defending yourself all the way to your state’s Supreme Court. The personal toll and of course the financial toll is something that is never set right, not even by a favorable verdict (or 2). It seems that everything you went through was done for the benefit of someone else down the line, and that includes me. Your good wishes and support mean a lot to me. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

3 + one =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>