Guy Claims Google Owes Him $500 Billion

from the novel-legal-arguments dept

I'm always interested in novel legal theories and arguments, and Eric Goldman points us to the latest attempt by one David Stebbins to convince the court system that giant companies owe him tons of money. Last time we'd checked in on Stebbins, he had been claiming Walmart owed him $600 billion, using some dubious claims which still don't make much sense. But it involved something with a "contract" he put on his website, which he apparently emailed folks at Walmart about, and when they sent back a boilerplate reply saying he had contacted the wrong department, he demanded they settle their "legal dispute." Walmart ignored that, and he declared that they now owed him $600 billion (with a b) as an arbitration award.

He's now trying something similar with Google, though this time it's "only" for $500 billion (again, with a b). The filing is embedded below and it's worth a read. It kicks off with a long diatribe insisting that the court cannot deny the motion, and making dubious legal claims that the court "must" grant the motion that Google owes him $500 billion. As for the crux of his "argument," it's that YouTube's terms of service say that the company can change the terms at any time and give notice. So he decided to change the terms himself. As he notes:
[YouTube's terms of service] state that the terms can be unilaterally modified at any time. If the other party does not wish to accept the new terms, they may sever the contractual relationship.

On March 22, 2011, I took YouTube up on that generous offer and sent them an email announcing my own modifications of the Youtube terms of service.
The key part that he "inserted" into his new terms was this nugget:
If you do not accept my invitation to arbitrate within 24 hours of receiving it, I automatically win the relief request, regardless of the merits. No actual arbitration award need be entered; I simply win, automatically, without having to go to arbitration. However, this will only apply to me. If you attempt to arbitrate with me, and I do not accept it, you must obtain an order to compel arbitration.
Amusingly, in the clause above that, he also states: "If you even so much as attempt to litigate a case with me, even if that attempt is unsuccessful you automatically loose that case." Yes, he typed "loose."

You can pretty much guess what happened next. He claimed that YouTube "accepted" his modified contract by not canceling his accounts within 30 days, and then it failed to respond to his arbitration request within 24 hours. Thus, he tells the court, Google owes him $500 billion and, according to the legal genius of David Stebbins, the court has no choice but to agree.

Of course, courts generally don't like having people waste their time, and I imagine this one gets dropped pretty quickly for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that YouTube's terms of service are actually pretty clear that only YouTube can modify them, not some random, lawsuit happy guy.

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  1. icon
    Gracey (profile), 18 Aug 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: as much as he is crazy

    Actually, it isn't anymore just sites with lots of money that have Terms that most people don't necessarily agree with. Lots of smaller sites also have these - is this guy going to go about suing all of them just cause he wants the terms "his way"? It ain't Harvey's.

    My own have terms - the terms I choose to offer, not what someone else wants.

    As for "monied sites" - while you may think the terms are one-sided, nobody is twisting your arm to agree with them. If you don't like them, find another site who doesn't have terms.

    Since when is anyone required to set up their terms to suit another user?

    I get pretty tired of stuff like that. When you own a business, you get to set the rules (within the law) and if others don't like it...well tough. Go somewhere else.

    Nagging on terms of agreement or use is not much different than assuming you can tell someone how to run their business .

    There are better ways of suggesting changes than making yourself look like...well this particular idiot.

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