Critic of bogus mosquito eradicator being sued

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Critic of bogus mosquito eradicator being sued

Post by Fishnut » Sat Mar 05, 2022 7:58 pm

A couple of years ago a biologist named Colin Purrington wrote a review of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator, a "black tube filled with water, sucrose, salt, and yeast" that is supposed to attract mosquitoes and kill them. It's marketed to people in the US as a way of reducing mosquito numbers around their properties and appear to be very popular, with the company claiming $100 million in sales annually and spawning other equally useless competitors. As well as writing his blogpost, Colin notified the the EPA, the FTC and and pesticide regulators in all 50 states. They have done to ban these useless devices.

Meanwhile, the makers of the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator have sued Colin for defamation in an obvious SLAPP suit. He's already spent around $90,000 in legal fees and it's going to cost a lot more before this is over. He's written a twitter thread explaining the situation and it's really alarming. He has a gofundme which could really do with boosting.

The company is scamming people - there's a class action against them accusing them of fraud, false advertising and deceptive practices - and the device has been banned in several states, yet the company is able to financially ruin this guy for pointing out the obvious. We've seen other companies try to silence critics like this and we've seen skeptics rally round to ensure the companies don't succeed. I'm really hoping we can do something this time too.
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Re: Critic of bogus mosquito eradicator being sued

Post by IvanV » Mon Mar 07, 2022 4:30 pm

Thank you for presenting this.

In general I tend to think you can't get away with this kind of thing in the US, such is the strength of the 1st amendment in limiting the potential for defamation prosecutions. But the falsity of that is demonstrated by the number of states that have found it appropriate to pass anti-SLAPP laws to specifically penalise intimidation suits. And the reality is that individual states vary considerably according to their laws. I note that he lives and is being sued in Pennsylvania. This Anti-SLAPP laws assessment by state reckons Anti-SLAPP laws are present but weak in Pennsylvania.

Over in Britain, it seems to have required the invasion of Ukraine for proposals for Anti-SLAPP laws in Britain to come forward, on the realisation that Russian oligarchs are the major users of intimidation actions in Britain. Given the weakness of previous defamation law reforms in this country, I'll believe it when I see it. And it needs to take account of issues like this mosquito killer case, and fair scientific comment, not just the defamation cases that tend to make the headlines.

But it's not just Russians. Robert Maxwell and James Goldsmith were once notorious for such cases.

And Richard Desmond took unsuccessful action against Tom Bower, over a minor point in one of Bower's books. But the real target was the still never-published unauthorised biography of Desmond that Bower has had complete since 2006. In deterring that publication, it was successful. What it fails to say in that brief summary is that, as in the "bogus treatment" case that Eady also acted as judge for, Bower had to appeal crucial rulings by Eady over the inadmissibility of evidence even to win the case. But Desmond came out of the courtroom smiling and tells people he won. Because he didn't need to actually win the case to win in practical reality. Such is the nature of SLAPP actions.

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