Spam Legal Battle Takes Ridiculousness to a New Height
By Ken Magill
Whatever you do, don’t send Matt Gage of Sioux Falls, South Dakota an email asking for his business—not even one.
In what has to be one of the most ridiculously out-of-proportion reactions to a business-to-business email pitch ever, Gage is on the midst of a legal brawl with California-based Knowledge Matrix over a single—that’s right, one—unsolicited email pitching him on Knowledge Matrix’s services.
On July 6, Knowledge Matrix employee Sharon Jones sent Gage, principal at Gage eServices, a message stating, in part, the following:
“Hope you are doing well.
“I tried reaching you a couple times and was unable to reach you so thought of sending an email.
“I was going through your website and see that you have couple of requirements in information Technology, would appreciate if you can send in the job description along with the bill rate details we can work together and submit the resumes for your review.”
The message went on to outline Knowledge Matrix’s capabilities.
If there’s a crime here, it’s Jones’ punctuation and grammar. However, Gage apparently decided sending the message was a crime under South Dakota law and had his lawyer fire off a letter to Knowledge Matrix demanding $1,500.
Another letter lowered the demand to $750, stating Gage would sue unless that money was paid.
When Knowledge Matrix failed to respond to the second letter, Gage filed suit in Minnehaha County calling for $4,000 plus attorney fees and damages.
On October 14, Knowledge Matrix responded by suing Gage in federal court in South Dakota, calling for a permanent injunction barring Gage from taking any adverse action against Knowledge Matrix under South Dakota Law, and asking for a ruling that South Dakota’s anti-spam law is preempted by, among other things, the Can-Spam Act.
Gage is clearly a very successful man. After all, he’s got the time to go to court over a single email.
There’s a reason Can-Spam was written to be opt-out based and preempt state anti-spam legislation with the exception of laws concerning fraud: To put an end to ridiculous nonsense like this.
Say for the sake of argument that Knowledge Matrix’s message did violate South Dakota law. [I haven’t read it and won’t waste time doing so.] Then South Dakota’s anti-spam law is ridiculous and should be struck down.
The fact that Jones addressed Gage by his first name in the message indicates it was a one-off. This is not the type of activity anti-spam legislation was meant to or should address.
Here’s to hoping the South Dakota court dispatches this case in Knowledge Matrix’s favor quickly so that whatever judge is assigned to the case can go back to addressing more worthy issues.