Dan Balsam hates spam.
No, really, the San Francisco lawyer despises it. Note his URL: danhatesspam.com.
Fresh out of business school at UCLA, Balsam jumped into online marketing and developed both a love for the power of email and a distaste for the malevolent forces that clog his wife’s inbox with penis-enlarging pitches and his own with enhance-your-breast-size offers.
“It was as a marketer that spam pissed me off,” Balsam noted. “You don’t have to quote that. It was as a marketer that spam angered me.”
Balsam the marketer became Balsam the lawyer after he turned, for kicks, to small claims court in San Francisco in 2002. The taste of victory there led him to Hastings College of the Law. His website says he’s had 37 small-claims court victories (“and counting”). And Balsam has turned to bigger fish.
In March, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner awarded him $7,000 plus attorneys’ fees and costs in a spam case, which he believes is the first superior court case brought by a spam recipient to go to trial in California.
And Monday in San Francisco Superior Court, Balsam duked it out with lawyers for Tagged.com, a social networking site that got slammed with lawsuits after an email campaign last year in which (according to S.F. district attorney Kamala Harris) it sent 40-60 million deceptive e-mails to net new members. (Tagged has since settled with attorneys general in a few states, as well as the SF D.A. “I believe we’re the only ones left,” Balsam said.)
Tagged’s lawyers from the New York office of Davis & Gilbert tried to persuade Judge Charlotte Woolard that Balsam should be conflicted out because he had spoken with the company’s general counsel last year about helping them with their own anti-spammer suits in the Northern District.
No such luck, though. They’re stuck with Dan, pseudo-spam-sheriff, from DanHatesSpam.com.