2.2 Trillion Legal Action Seeks to Disconnect Fax.com Permanently

Steve Kirsch, co-founder of the Infoseek Internet search engine and president of Silicon Valley firm Propel Software, has filed lawsuits against besieged broadcast-fax advertiser Fax.com, its telecommunications provider and its clients totaling $2.2 trillion.

Though Kirsch will never see a fraction of that amount even if he wins the lawsuit, his attorney, Barry Himmelstein, said there was more to this than money.

“They need to be put out of business. The sooner, the better,” Himmelstein said of Fax.com.

In a statement yesterday, Himmelstein's law firm of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein LLP, Mountain View, CA, said it filed the suits in federal and California state court on behalf of Kirsch and Redefining Progress, an activist think tank based in Oakland. The firm said it would seek $500 per violation committed over the past four years from Fax.com's advertisers and $1,500 per violation from Fax.com itself and its telecommunications provider, Cox Business Services.

In the law firm's statement, Kirsch accused Fax.com of “war dialing,” or sending a flood of faxes. According to Kirsch, Fax.com sends 3 million unsolicited faxes per day.

Kirsch's company, Propel, was “attacked” by Fax.com, which called every phone at the company's San Jose, CA, office in search of new fax lines, Kirsch said in the statement. He also quoted an assistant director at the University of Washington Medical Center, who accused Fax.com of making more than 1,000 calls to the medical center at once.

“They are more than just a nuisance. In some cases, they can even endanger public safety,” Kirsch said in the statement. “(Fax.com claims) to have more fax numbers in their database than there are fax machines in the U.S.”

A Fax.com spokesman said a response to Kirsch's lawsuit was under preparation.

Kirsch's lawsuit follows the Federal Communications Commission's announcement Aug. 7 that it would seek a $5.38 million fine against Fax.com on charges it sent unsolicited faxes on at least 489 occasions, tried to obscure its involvement with the faxes and failed to cooperate with the FCC. The FCC is seeking $11,000 per violation and has sent a warning letter to Fax.com clients that they faced similar fines if they continued to violate federal law.

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