One of the big problems surrounding #cockygate…. and I’m sure something that is powerfully motivating Faleena Hopkins, is the costs of her victims to mount a legal defense. Most people are going to back down with the threat of a lawsuit, even if it’s wrongful. How many of us have hundreds or thousands of dollars banked to hire a lawyer to defend oneself? I”m sure Faleena counted on that, and in fact until RWA and Kevin Kneupper got into the picture, many of the targeted authors were renaming their books and paying to have new covers and swag made… simply because the cost of fighting her threatened lawsuit would be too great to contemplate.
And as we can see, she was clearly fully prepared to go forward with lawsuits, as she has done so, even after the public outcry and outpouring of criticism. Kevin, at least, is an attorney himself, and an Intellectual Property attorney at that. What of those others named in the lawsuit? They have to come up with the money to defend against this lawsuit. Even if they don’t retain a lawyer to defend, then they’re going to still wind up paying Faleena’s attorney fees and whatever damages the court awards.
Everyone seems to believe, oh, Tara and Jennifer can get lawyers on contingent fee and if Faleena loses she’ll have to pay their fees. Contingent fees are generally only used by the claimant in cases where the claimant is suing for damages (generally workers comp or personal injury cases), and the attorney receives a large percentage of the damages awarded. This is not that kind of case, and Tara and Jennifer are the defendants, not the claimants. They will have to each pay an attorney up front to defend them, and HOPE that they win and that the court will award them attorneys’ fees.
That’s how these frivolous lawsuits and false claims come out on the winning side: It costs too much to fight them. Let me share a personal experience. When I was younger, I took a job as a transcriptionist for a law firm that defended companies against Workers Comp claims. Now. My grandparents had been union activists and organizers, in a time when this was dangerous… physically and mortally dangerous. My mother was a union rep for the Postal Workers, and wrote up briefs. So…. I had some severe qualms about this job… like, a traitor in the family. Seriously. I could picture my grandfather turning over in his grave. Until I started working and typing up the reports. There were so many false claims. The man who couldn’t work because of his hand injury that rendered his right hand useless. Who the investigators had videos… videos!!! …of him doing hours-long band practice on guitar and drums, and even videos of a live concert! The man who hurt his back falling at work and claiming 100% disability… and there were videos and pictures of him out dancing, over and lifting heavy objects and repairing cars in his driveway. And I asked the lawyers outright, WHY are you paying these claims? And I was told…. because it was too expensive to fight. That’s right, cheaper to give people the money they were claiming for injuries they did not have, than to defend against the claim.
And these were companies, businesses… some of them quite large. So… think about that. If YOU were served with a lawsuit over a word in your book’s title… yes, you. You, reading this. Right now. Do you have the money to get a lawyer? To fight back? Especially when it’s been made clear that this person is willing to take this as far as she possibly can?
This is the situation Tara Crescent and Jennifer Watson are faced with. And… there could be more lawsuits. She could have lawsuits for other “Cocky” authors in the works too, right this minute.