Attorney Christopher T. Cicero has not had a great year.

It’s not like the general public needs more reasons to dislike attorneys, yet unfortunately, there’s always more fuel for the fire.

If you read the news, you might say they are boozers, they are arrogant, and they are tools. Now cynics can add “cherry-pickers” to that list.

The attorney in the following case acted like the d-bags in Call of Duty who just hide in the bushes the whole game, waiting for people to turn the corner straight into a faceful of buckshot.

Luckily, an Ohio appeals court called shenanigans….

Christopher T. Cicero, an Ohio attorney, collected 85 emails from a marketing company called American Satellite, which was advertising DISH Network and DirecTV television. He thought the emails were misleading for not fully explaining the terms and conditions of the “free” services being offered.

To be clear, Cicero himself wasn’t misled. But apparently he thought the omission of applicable terms and services violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Protection Act. He waited several months, building his collection of emails, until finally deciding there were enough for a lawsuit.

Cicero v. American Satellite [PDF] didn’t get very far in court. The defense used Cicero’s own deposition against him. According to the court, he testified that “at the time he received the emails that are the subject of this litigation, not only was he not deceived by them, but because he believed they violated the OCSPA, he began saving the subject emails specifically for litigation purposes.” The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of American Satellite.

On September 27, the Ohio Court of Appeals denied Cicero’s appeal. The court wrote that the key issue was whether Cicero could recover damages, even though he was not at all misled.

Last week, Venkat Balasubramani at the Technology and Marketing Blog had some good analysis of the case:

Another court that’s less than sympathetic towards a lawyer-plaintiff. Quel dommage. (Woods v. Google was the most recent example of this, but there are many others.) Courts are also not sympathetic to claims which they perceive as manufactured. (See, e.g., the spam cases.) This lawsuit combined both of these elements — a lawyer-plaintiff, who saved up allegedly misleading emails so he could file suit — so it’s hardly surprising that the court gives him the boot.

Cicero also happens to be the attorney who sent former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel the emails that led to probably the biggest college football scandal ever, at least until Penn State swooped in and won that dubious superlative.

I don’t need to hate on Cicero too much, because he’s already been dragged through the mud for his sports-related activities. And this isn’t the first time his questionable legal decisions have gotten ink. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

In 1997, his law license was suspended for statements he made about a sexual relationship he had with a judge who assigned him to a case on her docket. In about 2002, a special prosecutor looked into allegations that he discussed killing witnesses for a client accused of committing two murders, records show. No charges were ever filed.

But come on, man! It’s not too late. You can do better than this. As goddess actress Penelope Cruz said in Vanilla Sky, “every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.”

Do your profession a solid and try to find some better casework. Please?

Ohio Court of Appeals: Lawyer-Plaintiff Can’t Sue for Misleading Email Ads Which he Knew Were Misleading — Cicero v. American Satellite [Technology and Marketing Blog]


Christopher Danzig is a writer in Oakland, California. He covers legal technology and the West Coast for Above the Law. Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisdanzig or email him at [email protected]. You can read more of his work at chrisdanzig.com.


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