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Spam Legal Battle Takes Ridiculousness to a New Height

10/25/11

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:

“Hi Matt,

“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.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: John Doe
Date: 2015-02-04 13:31:59
Subject: Unwanted emails

Is definitely spam. We received the same email, but it went to a generic email box and not to the owner who he was addressing. Funny how the owner's email is on our website on the same page as the generic email box. So either he is really stupid or its spam. Really? An IT guy can't get the right email address for the person he is contacting? And since the person he is contacting never is the first to answer and there is no record of him calling, the email is a lie! The problem is that hundreds of people are sending these lies and companies are tired of spending time sorting through junk email. I hope he wins the lawsuit and teach that moron a lesson. Also, Knowledge Matrix, Inc is not listed with BBB!
Posted by: Stephen
Date: 2015-01-29 17:42:06
Subject: follow up

Is there no follow up to this? What did the court decide?
Posted by: Maria Todd, MHA PhD
Date: 2013-11-04 16:07:16
Subject: Same letter, different sender also my first name.

I received nearly identical correspondence. We maintain a full IT squad here so I dont need their service, don't want to hear from them. I told the person Rico Parker | Knowledge Matrix, Inc. Business Development Executive D: 408 641 3143 |1525 McCarthy Blvd, Suite 222 Milpitas, CA 95035| www.knowledgematrixinc.com to stop emailing me and he won't. Calls to Knowledge Matrix HR meet with a constant voice mail. My time is worth something too.
Posted by: Al Iverson
Date: 2011-10-31 15:00:45
Subject: personalization

Hey Ken, I'd be careful about suggesting that this is perhaps not spam because the recipient was addressed by his first name. Lots of senders do that in an automated fashion, and some subset of those are most definitely spamming as they do it.
Posted by: Ruth P Stevens
Date: 2011-10-25 20:49:14
Subject: how 'bout postal mail?

I wonder if Matt is suing senders of unsolicited letters through the postal service. Not that I encourage him to try. But this email looks like legitimate business correspondence. I hope the courts agree. Is the DMA involved in supporting the counter-suit?

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