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:
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.
I 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.
Would 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:
Forgive 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:
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.