I apologize to readers, but this is going to be a lost week as far as personal finance blogging goes. Hopefully next week we can get back on track with talking about Roth IRAs, saving money, investing, and financial freedom.
I wanted to give you an update to the article that I wrote earlier this week: Le-Vel is Suing Me to Silence Criticism.
However, before I do, I want to clear up some things. There’s so much going on that it’s hard to keep it straight. I’ve got two hour phone calls with friends asking if I’m okay and about a dozen regular readers emailing me.
In the confusion, I neglected to actually post the lawsuit. I didn’t realize it until I saw some questions being asked if I was actually being sued or if it was just the threat of a lawsuit.
However, I want to take it another step back. (See how scattered my thoughts are?) A week before Le-Vel’s lawyers sent me a this cease and desist letter. It says that I made assertions of Le-Vel “is an illegal pyramid scheme”, “is not a legitimate business”, and “sells THRIVE patches that are placebos with no ingredients” among other things.
I can’t believe they read the same article I wrote on Le-Vel. I don’t use the word “illegal” other than to quote the FTC’s guidelines on MLMs and pyramid schemes. I only use “legitimate” in a general reference to pyramid schemes (again based on the FTC’s guidance). The one about the patches is the most interesting because I said specifically, “Dove Beauty Patch has no ingredients.” The Dove Beauty Patch is not a product by Le-Vel (or even a real product) and the article makes no mention of the word “placebo.”
However, the part that really caught my attention with the cease and desist was:
“While Le-Vel respects First Amendment freedoms… we demand that you immediately:
1. Permanently remove the Article, along with any comments, from your website and any other publication;
2. Cease and desist from making any further defamatory or derogatory statements regarding Le-Vel, any of Le-Vel’s products, including its THRIVE product line, or any of Le-Vel’s officers, employees, Promoters, agents, attorneys, or representatives (the “Le-Vel Interests”); and
3. Cease and desist from publishing in print, on the internet, or through any other medium, including social media, any information regarding the Le-Vel Interests.”
I cut a lot out with that “…” (as you can see since I posted the letter in full), but it is a completely contradictory letter.
No one respecting First Amendment freedoms demands the removal of an article. It is even more egregious to apply that demand to the comments of others who are not even alleged of ANY wrongdoing by Le-Vel. Finally, it goes a step further to further limit my freedom of speech by telling me that I’m no long free to make any statements about “Le-Vel’s interests” (as defined in the article).
This is a good time to remind everyone that a Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is “A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.”
I’ll leave it to the court of public opinion, but does this look like a company that respects freedom of speech or one that is looking to silence criticism.
My lawyers responded to the letter that we don’t believe there’s any fault, but that we would be open to editing the article. That was met with a lawsuit the very next day.
I had a few more things that I intended to write in this article (the update that I wanted to talk about in the beginning), but I have to leave to meet with my senator’s aide where I will bring this up. If I don’t hit publish now, my next opportunity is tomorrow… so I might as well give the rest of the update then.
Thank you once again for your support.