Spamhaus achieves moral court victory in absentia

British anti-spam outfit Spamhaus won a moral victory in a US court after a federal judge slashed a $11.7 million fine to just $27,002.

US Judge Charles P. Kocoras of the Eastern District of Illinois effectively said that the plaintiffs in the case e360 Insight and its founder David Linhardt,had simply plucked the $11.7 million figure out of thin air.

The Register reports how e360 sued Spamhaus in 2006 alleging defamation, tortious interference with possible economic advantage and interference with existing contracts. The outfit claimed that Spamhaus effectively blocked some three billion of more than 6.6 billion emails it tried to send on behalf of clients.

Spamhaus said it refused to defend the case until the judge had examined Spamhaus's objection to the US court's jurisdiction. "No jurisdiction enquiry was ever made by the judge therefore Spamhaus withdrew from the US case on the advice of its UK lawyers," the outfit said back in 2006.

The initial judgement required Spamhaus to pay e360, "a one-man 'bulk email marketing' firm" run by David Linhardt and based in Chicago, compensatory damages totaling US$11.7 million. It also ordered Spamhaus to delete all "evidence of illegal spamming by e360", and said Spamhaus should "lie to the public by posting a notice on its website stating that Linhardt/e360 'is not a spammer'" Spamhaus said.

"Spamhaus can not obey such absurd orders. Spamhaus firmly stands by its position that David Linhardt is a spammer," the outfit wrote.

An appeals court eventually overruled the decision and sent the case back to the lower court, where e360 continued to argue it was entitled to millions of dollars in compensation. In the end, US Judge Charles P. Kocoras of the Eastern District of Illinois decided that the none of the figures e360 concocted "was the product of expert testimony or use of a scientific or reliable methodology, nor based on relevant or supportable factual premises.”

He eventually awarded e360 $27,000, deciding that contracts the outfit had with clients had been interfered with. He awarded e360 a dollar each in respect of two other claims and also declined e360's request for a court order barring Spamhaus from using similar tactics against the firm in the future.