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$11.7m judgment against Spamhaus slashed to $27,000

End of line for 6.6 billion-strong spammer

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A federal judge has handed a major victory to anti-spam crusaders Spamhaus, slashing an $11.7m verdict to just $27,002.

US Judge Charles P. Kocoras of the Eastern District of Illinois said the plaintiffs, e360 Insight and its founder David Linhardt, failed to credibly calculate the damage that resulted when its promotional emails were targeted by Spamhaus. e360 sued Spamhaus in 2006 alleging defamation, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage and interference with existing contracts.

e360 claimed that about 3 billion of the more than 6.6 billion emails it sent on behalf of clients were blocked by service providers who subscribed to the Spamhaus real-time blacklist. The court ruled in e360's favor after the volunteer anti-spam group withdrew from the case. A judgment of $11.7m was ultimately entered against Spamhaus.

An appeals court ultimately junked that ruling and sent the question of damages back to the lower court. At a trial in March, e360 argued once again it was entitled to astronomical damages that at different points was calculated at $135m, $122m, and $30m. Kocoras rejected all three amounts.

“None of these figures was the product of expert testimony or use of a scientific or reliable methodology, nor based on relevant or supportable factual premises,” he wrote in a decision issued on Friday. “As a result, none of the above amounts can be relied on or be a reasonable basis upon which to base a damage award.”

The judge went on to award e360 $27,000 for interference with existing contracts the company had with three clients, a sum the judge found to be equal to one month of additional work on behalf of the customers. He awarded just $1 apiece on the other two claims, and he said that claims calculated under the defamation part of 3360's case were “speculative and conclusory.” Kocoras also turned down 360's request for a court order barring Spamhaus from engaging in similar behavior against e360 in the future.

It's the latest high-stakes ruling to be issued in a spam case. A decision in a separate case last month awarded $2.6m, while another ruling awarded the same alleged spammer 807,000. ®

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