Carreon Triples Down — Sues Matthew Inman

Well, Charles Carreon really did it good this time. Instead of backing away from the dispute, like he should have, he’s filed suit against Matthew Inman and Indiegogo. Carreon v. Inman Complaint.

For those of you who didn’t catch the story the first time around, Carreon represents a website called “Funny Junk.” Funny Junk is a “user generated content” site — so they say they don’t post any content of their own, it all gets posted by their users. Inman, publisher of The Oatmeal, kept finding his content up on Funny Junk, and got sick of it. So, he posted something on his site bitching about it.

Then, Funny Junk hired a guy who I know, like, and consider to be a friend: Charles Carreon. Charles wrote what I thought was one of the most ill-considered demand letters ever sent out on a lawyer’s letterhead. He sent it to The Oatmeal, who eviscerated it. I have to give Inman credit, his reply was witty and frankly, appropriate. As part of his “fuck you” to Funny Junk, Inman started raising money for a couple of charities, using Indiegogo.com.

And then Carreon got upset. Instead of backing away from what was clearly an unsupportable legal position, he chose to try and get the charitable fundraiser shut down. When Indiegogo wouldn’t shut it down, he sued them along with Inman.

Carreon just made himself a meme — and not in a good way. This will not end well for him. I just want to say that I tried. I really tried to get him to come to his senses. I tried really really hard.

72 Responses to Carreon Triples Down — Sues Matthew Inman

  1. dan says:

    gotta love someone who sues Cancer Society and National Wildlife. I’m surprised he hasn’t sued me yet (but I’ll wait until 5PM)

  2. Owen says:

    I am quite interested in this situation and I’d be curious to read the opinion of a guy who doesn’t just out-and-out hate Carreon. Would it be possible to hear a more in-depth opinion of the claims in his complaint?

    • I might have some involvement in the case (on the defense side) so I don’t want to go into too many details.

    • dan says:

      just read the latest one where he sues the cancer society, national wildlife and john does to be named later. Do you really need to know more than the fact that he sued them to know what loser he is? Or you could just read any of his complaints (we have no lack of evidence here: he’s filed at least three to date) and draw your own conclusions. I have no involvement in the case (but hey…clerk’s office doesnt close for a few more hours so who knows?) but anyone who sues the cancer society on those grounds is batshit crazy.

      • Owen says:

        As much as I may disagree with someone’s desire to disgorge donations from the American Cancer Society or the National Wildlife Federation, the subjective distaste for his intent is not really relevant to the merit of his legal claims. I’m interested in how the law works in this matter, not how the claims strike everyone’s fancy.

        • dan says:

          but thats just the point: what possible claim could he have against NWF? Read it and decide for yourself.

  3. elly says:

    Is there any chance that the guy is clinically depressed, or on the verge of some mental/emotional breakdown?

    I’m simply an observer – and one who’s entirely sympathetic to the Oatmeal in this case (although I’m not a regular follower, I love Inman’s cartoons). And like many others, I’m enjoying both the commentary on the unfolding spectacle and concomitant education in the legal system.

    But – based on your first appraisal of Carreon (quoted at Popehat) – it seems that you feel this is uncharacteristic behavior on his part. Sure – it may be that he’s simply revealing some ugly tendencies that you didn’t know he had (like people who turn out to be emotionally/physically abusive to their spouses, for example). However, it’s worth considering that – when previously rational people start behaving irrationally – there may be underlying mental health issues involved.

    I’m guessing that you’re not inclined to publicly speculate on such things… but this consideration has made me somewhat reluctant to join in the internet dogpile on Carreon. At this point, it feels like encouraging someone standing on a 30th floor ledge to jump.

    • I do not think that he’s depressed or on the verge of a breakdown. That said, Charles and I are not close enough that I’d be in a position to notice if he was.

      I’ve always known him to be a reasonable, intelligent, and speech-protective type of guy. So, I really can’t tell what is going on in his mind. On a personal level, I am tremendously disappointed in him. On a professional level, I’ll be very disappointed in our court system if he is not crushed as a result of what he’s done here.

    • Ancel De Lambert says:

      My guess is cancer, something pushing on something else important, and completely screwing with his hormones.

    • I’m sorry, but being clinically depressed doesn’t give you the right to sue everyone.

  4. William says:

    I believe he is acting out of anger and pride. He was, in his eyes, publicly shamed. His mother, also in his eyes, was insulted as well. Now he is in too deep. He cannot simply back down for he has called too much attention to himself. His biggest mistake was taking any of Inman’s words personally.

    • He could have. I can’t see how he possibly can now.

      • Marc Whipple says:

        He could file to dismiss his suit, post a public message along the lines of, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into me, while I have some serious problems with what The Oatmeal did and said it got way out of hand and I’m going to let it go now,” and lay low for a decade or so. It’d be that easy.

        Yes, he’d still get nasty emails from mental twelve-year-olds for the next few months, but that is inevitable. It is NEVER too late to stop digging and walk away.

        He won’t, but he could.

        • You know, such an act of self reflection and contrition would make the whole thing likely dissipate in less than a decade. He could do that and I would imagine that in six weeks most people would think of him as the guy who showed humility rather than how his public persona is now.

          • John Hedtke says:

            I agree with you, Marc. I’m married to a judge and, while she’s perfectly sane (except perhaps for putting up with me on occasion), we know a LOT of lawyers and have seen some of them just… sail off for the horizon at full speed, often for no apparent reason. While most of them are usually in a position that a public act of contrition such as the one you’ve described would save, they’re rarely reachable to do so. It’s a shame, because it’s wasteful and rather tragic watching people turn themselves into a meme when the tragedy could be avoided.

    • elly says:

      Anger and pride, for sure. But you’d think that an “internet lawyer” would have anticipated Inman’s public response – as deadly as it was, it was hardly unprecedented. Somethingawful.com, for example, has an often-hilarious archive of responses to legal threats (this one, at http://www.somethingawful.com/d/legal-threats/legal-threat-ultimate.php is my absolute favorite). And David Thorne’s exchange with Penguin Books (http://www.27bslash6.com/covers.html) demonstrates how a legal team that’s pretty clearly in the right can nonetheless choose to not escalate in the face of (a series of) snarky responses.

      Seriously, if you’re in the public eye doing anything even remotely controversial, you need to have a fairly thick skin. Sandra Fluke is an excellent counter-example of grace under that sort of pressure. Carreon, on the other hand, appears to be lashing out without regard for his own and his client’s reputation.

      • As much as I criticized Sandra Fluke, I’d have to agree that she handled her situation relatively well — and certainly better than Charles did.

  5. obscureandoblique says:

    Mr. Inman paid attention in class.

    Encouraging the arrogance of his enemy is strong kung fu. He has led Carreon unto the killing ground.

  6. My open letter to Carreon (to his chas@charlescarreon.com e-mail address):

    Hi Chas,

    Just saw your suit against, among others, the National Wildlife Federation and American Cancer Society. You’re going to sue NWF and the Cancer Society? Really?

    First of all, you have no standing to sue those organizations and the fundraising platform, which should be obvious. Second, your remaining claims are frivolous against anyone but Does 1 – 100. Any use of your “trademark” was clearly not done to provide legal services and clearly constituted fair use, and you have no evidence to show that Inman attempted to incite anyone.

    In short, congratulations on making a name for himself as the man who sues charities, legitimate and lawful Internet content publishers, and anyone else who doesn’t bow to you. As a human being, you should know better, but as a lawyer, your conduct has departed frmo the minimum professional standards requried by you. I will be filing a formal complaint with the California Bar regarding your conduct.

    Yours,

    Jonathan Corbett

    • Juniper says:

      Please do for the rest of us. As an example to law students, such as myself, who strive and will continue to strive to exceed the ethical standards set by the bar. <3

    • I do not think filing a bar complaint is appropriate.

      • I know very little about law, but I’ve read everything about this available to me. Could you elaborate a little bit on why complaining to the bar would be inappropriate?

      • Juniper says:

        If I am not mistaken, he has had multiple suspensions from the bar in the past. Such a history combined with his current behavior is worthy of the bar’s attention, in my opinion. They can decide how to handle it, but they should be aware.

        • I only know of one, where he was suspended for practicing without a license in Canada. Do you know of others?

        • John Hedtke says:

          Although I think he’s acting recklessly and will end up causing great injury to himself, I’m not sure that filing a bar complaint is appropriate, either. Honestly, what I think Mr. Carreon needs right now is therapy and tranquilizers–some kind of a timeout–and not a bar association hassle.

          The bar really can’t say “Cut that out!” because he’s free to do this if he really wants to. About the only thing they can do is censure him (which doesn’t feel completely right) or suspend him (which definitely doesn’t feel right on the surface of it), but it won’t stop the actions. In fact, I think that having the local bar get involved would actually hike up Mr. Carreon’s personal volume to 11 and would do nothing good for him or any of the participants.

          (Note: I actually think Mr. Carreon is potentially kinda fragile mentally, given how bizarre his behavior’s gotten, and I would like to see him handled in ways that do not exacerbate this if that’s possible.)

          • dan says:

            I’d love to think that way but his actions are not in a vacumm. Every thing we are discussing on here affects others. That’s pretty much the standard for intervention everywhere “…unless they are harming themselves or others…” blah and blah you all know the drill. Were he to be merely ranting on FB or even commenting here the harm would be minimal. To me, bar intervention is less invasive than many others and if you believe mental health issues are relevant, could be the last chance of a wakeup call. ( i have no opinion on his mental health ).

            • John Hedtke says:

              Agree with all of it, Dan. I guess the real question is “Could the bar do anything meaningful in this venue/do anything in a timely fashion?” For all I know–which is virtually nothing, so please don’t take this as a recommendation–it might be that the very best thing that could happen is a 72-hour involuntary for observation… but I don’t think that’s likely to be on the menu as a result of a bar action. (Shoot, if it was, I can think of a couple of attorneys I’ve known with similar problems for whom bar action would be the PERFECT thing. :) )

              Um, yes, I think the guy’s being a huge jerk and I actually don’t have a lot of sympathy for him because of his actions, but I am inclined to have a smidgen simply because he is so obviously intent on blowing himself up for no good reason.

          • I disagree with the assessment that he is fragile, or in any way mentally deranged. He’s a strong willed guy who is exercising really bad judgment. He seems to have let his ego get the better of his judgment.

            Everyone does that from time to time. Fortunately for most of us, we don’t usually do it on stage in front of a packed house.

            I do wish the commenters would stop making calls about him being mentally ill or calling for bar investigations. I don’t think either is appropriate. Pointing out his bad behavior to the court of public opinion is enough. Try and be “the good guys” here.

            I know its hard to try and be measured or reasonable when dealing with a person who is being so fucking douchetastic — which he is — but try. Just try.

            • John Hedtke says:

              I stand corrected, Marc, as you know him and I don’t. (And thank you for letting me know.) I’ll gladly NOT think of him as mentally ill in any way, just as someone who’s being a jerk at the moment.

              FWIW, I really was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt before–that he was not completely responsible for his own actions–and not just being judgmental and thinking of him as being a jerk. I’m actually a bit sorry that the latter seems to be the case; I would have liked to think a little better of him than circumstances allow.

            • I can see your point. I’m disappointed in him too. I would prefer to hear that he was on some medication that skewed his mind.

  7. As an Oatmeal fan, I made the assumption that if the Bear Love campaign raised more than $20K, Matthew Inman would donate all of it to the specified charities, not just the $20K. Of course, that;’s just an assumption, so he might be well off making it clear that he’s not keeping any of the money personally.

    I have no idea about the assorted legal ramifications of whether all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed in terms of contracts and such, but as far as the personal attacks, well this surely comes under Hustler v. Falwell, doesn’t it? Carreon should know better. But I do think more filings should include the phrase “pendulous breasts”…

    Sadly, what I pick up from this is that some of Inman’s supporters (of whom I am one) have decided to attack Charles Carreon personally. That’s the sort of douchebaggery that Matthew Inman would do well to publicly distance himself from.

    • Ki says:

      http://www.indiegogo.com/bearlovegood?c=activity

      Inman has made it sufficiently clear, conveniently on the site hosting the donation, that -all- money is going to charity.
      Not sure how you missed this, as an Oatmeal fan.

      • senpai71 says:

        I meant on his own site. Whilst it’s all very well to put it in a comment on the IndieGogo site, it would be better (I think) if he had immediately clarified this on the Oatmeal website. The problem is that in the original “Fuck You” to Carreon, he said “I’m going to try to raise $20K” and also ” I’m going to give the raised money to charity” but didn’t explicitly state what would happen to any money over and above the $20K. Yeah, we all know he’s going to give it to charity, but once the lawyers start their ankle-biting (no offense, Marc!), ya gotta be absolutely clear. Especially when a clusterfuck like this happens.

        • William says:

          “Try to raise” is the key here. Also he states “I’m going to give the RAISED MONEY(caps for emphasis, not for douchebaggery) to charity.” If he had stated “give the 20k” then there would be an issue, but he stated he will give the money he raises, a more general statement that would include all money raised, regardless of the amount.

          • Darrell says:

            Yeah and in addition to this, as much attention as this has generated, it would be mighty stupid of him to do anything other than donate all of that money to charities. He’s already a winner in the situation from the publicity alone, it would look selfish/greedy to keep any donated money.

  8. William says:

    Oh and I just noticed; you may want to edit the PDF you posted as it contains Carreon’s contact information.

    • dan says:

      It’s a public filing. So that pdf is a copy of a document that is a matter of public record. editing out publicly available information seems pointless.

      • William says:

        True, but it just helps stop the finger pointing at a later date, then again I’m sure the readers here are far more level headed than those on sites like reddit. Those are the kind of users who would take action with the information.
        If I remember correctly, one of the mentioned complaints was his email was never available prior to this, though I cannot remember where it said that.
        But all of his contact information has always been available on calbar.ca.gov…

        http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/127139

        Anyway~ not disagreeing with you, I just figured its best to cover all the bases, ya know?

        • Jake-413451 says:

          I actually think the best option is to disseminate his filings far and wide, without redaction and with at least some comment on the validity of his claims.

          If he has a problem with the information he has entered into the public record that is his own fault.

          It is a matter of public interest just what members of the bar are trying to do. It is in the public interest that consumers should be well informed about the services available and the relative merits of individuals offering those services. Including the information he provides as a matter of public record simply ensures no other attorney who may share the same name may be confused with the idiot in question. And I mean idiot in the common vernacular, sense of someone who acts like a complete and utter moron, I’m not making a claim to his actual mental faculties.

          just in case he is reading it and looking for more Does.

  9. dan says:

    Its a requirement in every jurisdiction that I know for a lawyer to have publicly available contact information for purposes of service and such. Its also required to be on the wrapper for documents filed with the clerk of the court. So really, there really are no bases to cover.

  10. [...] Carreon Triples Down – Sues Matthew Inman(randazza.wordpress.com) [...]

  11. themattscott says:

    Marc- Tara Carreon is apparently rather hopeful that you and Ken from Popehat will be part of the defense. She claims that will help them win so much easier. And, apparently, you just talk out of your ass.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120615/17334719354/funnyjunks-lawyer-charles-carreon-just-keeps-digging-promises-hell-find-some-law-to-go-after-oatmeals-matt-inman.shtml#c3504

    • Meh, I’m not about to let that annoy me. She’s emotionally lashing out at people who are saying shitty things about her husband. You can’t really fault her for that. That said, Chas should have a little stronger pimp hand and tell her to shut the fuck up, because the only people saying dumber things than him at this point are his wife and daughter.

      • Random Alan says:

        Surely behaviour like this (Carreon) just serves to galvanise people in his own profession against him to the point that, regardless of the outcome of this (and any counter) case, he becomes completely ostracised from the community and will struggle to ever work again?!

  12. [...] intellectual property, internet and entertainment law. Randazza has written a post called “Carreon Triples Down — Sues Matthew Inman” in which he says he’s an acquaintance of Carreon and even tried to talk him out of [...]

  13. Ted N says:

    Is Mr Carreon the only one on this plane of existence that didn’t realize what a polite shot across his bow that fundraiser in his name was?

    That the Oatmeal Legion was willing to toss a few bucks in a pot for S&G’s, and really wouldn’t mind tossing in a few more bucks for the actual defense, if it came to that?

    It boggles my poor little monkey brain.

  14. [...] one of the most ill-considered demand letters ever sent out on a lawyer’s letterhead," Randazza wrote on his blog this week. After The Oatmeal's response to Carreon's "unsupportable legal position," Carreon sued [...]

  15. Scote says:

    I don’t get this. Isn’t there a potential conflict of interest in representing FunnyJunk and in suing Inman, et al, on his own behalf? FunnyJunk’s interests and Carreon’s may diverge, or may have already diverged. (Well, they probably diverged when Inman pointed out that FunnyJunk doesn’t appear to have a registered DMCA agent…)

  16. nsputnik says:

    Marc, will you be the one to give Carreon the slapdown? Will you represent Inman?

  17. [...] At The Legal Satyricon, commenters speculate on what’s causing Carreon to push this case to the limit. Blogger Marc Randazza, who tried to [...]

  18. Ike says:

    Are not some of you people concerned that he may sue you for suggesting he is not of sound mind?

  19. omars says:

    So if you know him, why don’t you call him up or visit him and tell him he’s being a douche-like jerk with no redeeming qualities and that has real-world consequences such as you won’t associate with him?

    Seriously, I personally make an attempt to avoid jackasses and people of ill-repute. Being a (bad) lawyer doesn’t acquit him of wanting the approval of other humans. If people who know him personally treat him like a pariah, maybe he’ll get the message (though he may sue you, too).

  20. [...] a friend (the lawyer who famously took Righthaven down) of Mr. Carreon  has begged Mr. Carreon to stop.  I don’t think he’s [...]

    • dan says:

      any chance you read it and found the changes? I found it an ordeal reading the original.

      • William says:

        I had the same problem, sorry to say.
        He named another name in this one, Modelista I believe.
        I started to skim and decided to post it here, hoping Marc would fill us in =)

        • dan says:

          Perhaps someone could trouble Carreon for the original word doc with change log enabled? it would save us a lot of time :)

  21. just_wow says:

    His wife has waded into the fray and mr Carreon has been working on a song. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/funnyjunk-lawyers-wife-wades-into-fray-calls-critics-nazi-scumbags/
    Amazing.

  22. Kiran Wagle says:

    “Consider” [present tense] him a friend? This shows some very poor judgment on your part.

    Or, seriously, maybe he’s suffering from a brain tumor or something and needs to go in for medical testing.

  23. [...] also occurs to me that this is a stunning fall from grace for Carreon, who was respected among First Amendment circles before this circus came to town.  Carreon had connections to the EFF (having received pro hac [...]

  24. David McLean says:

    You actually know him and consider him a friend? I find his psychosis fascinating, and then I started to read posts from his wife. ..and now I just can’t get enough. If an eleven year old got hold of a dirty thesaurus I would expect the quote below, but the fact that it comes from Tara Carreon, the wife of a lawyer with pending litigation and is pursuant to said litigation is absolutely mind bending.

    Have you met this woman? What is dinner conversation like? Is all her discourse this hyperbolic? Is she just run of the mill crazy, or does she cross over into that rare realm of the ultra-rare cogent-but-full-time-bat-shit-crazy? I’m sure you can’t speak to this, but I’d love to know, is she medicated? If so, is this state less crazy than her natural state? I’d love to meet her, actually that’s not true, I’d love to sit on the other side of a one-way mirror and watch her in a room full of “elitist” republican Buddhists and watch the flubber fly. Truly this woman is a first amendment gem. The only internet persona that I’ve ever come across who could give her a run for her money is Barbara Schwarz (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/barbara_schwarz.html) and while Barbara has the crazy she just doesn’t have the pizzazz that Tara does. Tara I salute you. It’s always inspiring to see someone truly excel in their field of talent.

    Quote from Tara Carreon in a techdirt comment:

    “These phaggotish, conspiratorial, childish, dorkish, baseless, mindless, shameful, dumb, aggressive, jealous, reprobate, obsessed, mad, clueless, shockingly delusional, completely lost and in trouble, bottom-of-the-barrel, short-sighted, dumb-fuck, ranting, Un-American, contemptible, obnoxious, embarrassing, incompetent, bizarre, constipated, bankrupt, hypocritical, stupid, fearful, carnivorous, wolverine, ranting, foaming at the mouth, bullying, lying, paranoid, no-better-than-the-mafia, smeghead, scumbag, cretinous, lazy, delusional, demented, narcissistic, pathological, extortionistic lunatic, thuggish drama-whores, poised on the edge of a precipice, hoisted by their own petard, their holy fucking shitballs burning inside a biplane careening toward the Statue of Liberty, rhinos raping chinchillas dressed up in unicorns’ undergarments, who deserve every bad thing that happens to them, having to learn their lessons the hard way, and who I wouldn’t even piss on if they were on fire (they believe in name-calling at TechDirt) claim that these types of statements are not actionable because they aren’t “false facts,” just “satire.” Where is the dividing line?”

  25. dan says:

    …in later news….Carreon declared victory just in time for the holiday and withdrew one of the suits. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/07/carreon-claims-victory-drops-his-lawsuit-against-the-oatmeal-et-al/

  26. hmmmmm says:

    As others have commented before me, I find it sad (I would say “disturbing,” but that would imply a sense of novelty that is unfortunately lacking) that so many people prefer “world-class asshole” to “mentally ill.” People speculating on Mr. Carreon’s mental wellness are not insulting him; they are, rather, trying to make excuses for him, to place his behavior in a context in which it might be more forgivable than it currently is.

    As someone with long-term clinical depression, I find it… well… *depressing* that I can spend my entire life working hard to offset my endocrine-system irregularities with conscious determination to be a kind, considerate person, but in the common view, it’s better to be a jerk with an attitude than to admit “My body chemistry is out of whack and may be skewing my ability to perceive and respond to stresses appropriately.”

    I will hope for Mr. Carreon the same thing I hoped, years ago, for a friend who was exhibiting similar off-the-wall behavior: “Maybe it’s a tumor; something even the size of a grain of sand can cause a person to become emotionally labile and cloud their judgment, but it can also be FIXED.”

    Sadly, I suspect that Mr. Carreon’s response would be more along the lines of my former friend’s response – “I can’t believe you just wished brain cancer on me” and later “She wished death on me and, by extension, on my wife and kids; what’s to say she won’t actually try to kill us herself?” – instead of understanding what it really means: “I’m worried about your health, and hope that your recent behavior is something that can be cured. Otherwise I will just have to concede that you’re a jerk, a creep, and a user, and that I was terribly wrong in my initial assessment of you as a person I would be proud to consider a friend, and that will make me sad.”

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