Baybrook Remodelers, whose litigious efforts to silence a critic we covered last month, has apparently hired an SEO guy (or rather, Todd Ramos - SEO Guy) to help clean up its internet presence. Part of this cleanup effort involves asking sites that covered this story (Techdirt and Boing Boing) to delete the posts in question because one technical detail is allegedly wrong.
On the original post, someone representing Baybrook left a comment claiming that it had nothing to do with Kristen Arisian's mother being forced to move out of her house after being denied a Certificate of Occupation (CO) by the city of Milford, CT.
Kristen Arisian has concocted a crazy story that accuses Baybrook Remodelers, Inc. of throwing her mother out of her home. Kristen is spreading this false story and other negative reviews throughout the internet. Baybrook completed all of the work at her mother’s house in July 2007. Baybrook was paid in full, and her mother was very happy with the outcome of the several contracts she signed with Baybrook Remodelers. Kristen’s mother had her house lifted prior to Baybrook even being contacted for work. Presently, the City of Milford is refusing to issue a Certificate of Occupancy because the Arisians have never produced a certificate of elevation. A certificate of elevation is generated by the original engineer who completed the plans for the lifting of the house. The City of Milford will issue a CO once the certificate of elevation is issued. Baybrook Remodelers, Inc. is not an engineering firm, and had nothing to do with the lifting of the house. It is also my understanding that the City of Milford has not requested that Mrs. Arisian leave her home.
contacted me via Twitter to press this point -- that the yanking of Arisian's CO kicked this whole thing off, not the other way around. But Kristen's comment
in response notes that, contrary to Baybrook's claims, it may
have had something to do with her mother being denied a CO. [embedded below]
If you look at the July letter from Kuchta, the permit number referenced is the permit pulled by Baybrook Remodelers. It was on this basis that she was thrown out.
Ramos sent me the following screenshot of the letter from the city stating this point. Of course, that sentence continues, pointing out another permit problem -- one that seems to be related to Baybrook's original work on the house. (Note: this is my own screenshot, because as soon as it became apparent I wouldn't delete the post, Todd Ramos deleted his DM conversation with me. I still had the conversation "active" on my phone, so I've posted the screenshots below. I've also transcribed it because my phone makes screenshots for ants
Even if we take Baybrook at its word that it had nothing to do with the CO being pulled, there's still the troublesome issue that what directly preceded this effort was an attempt to get the city to get Eileen Arisian to remove her less-than-complimentary signs, again using zoning ordinances. (Full story here
But a correction simply wasn't enough for Todd Ramos, who continued to claim that the entire
post was false simply because of this single element, one that seems to be contradicted by the chain of events. As he put it, I was taking the word of a "crazy woman" rather than a trustworthy remodeling company currently engaged in lawsuits against two people who had posted negative reviews. He also threatened to post negative stories about "tech dirt" in response and claimed I wrote the original post out of "revenge and hate."
Meanwhile, here's what's been going on in Kristen's world, where she's still entangled in a lawsuit with Baybrook over negative reviews.
First off, she's going to be deposed pre-trial (trial date is currently set for March 5th, but Baybrook has been dragging this out since March of 2011
, so even that may change). Certainly the deposition is expected, but the court has ordered it to be done at Baybrook's offices
Kristen also noticed something else rather unusual. One day after posting its comment at Techdirt, three new glowing reviews of the company appeared at Yelp -- all posted on the same day, January 15th.
The bottom line, however, seems to be that Baybrook's web rep thinks the entire post should be deleted because it claims Arisian was motivated by the loss of her occupancy certificate. Ramos went on to make several statements about what he would do in response if the post didn't come down, as well as claim that he could convince Baybrook to drop the lawsuit against Kristen if the post was removed. Here are a few of the highlights (full conversation embedded below).
What is owner suppose to do I will have him end lawsuit if you guys can make these false statements go away
Well I will have to start having my team blog if it's not removed and it will be about tech dirt not getting facts before slandering people
Kind of crazy but it a OK like I said I have 600 bloggers and 20000 blog as ranging in pr 4 to 7 I can get things out as well
She hired yelp reviews and probably you guys and boing boing
Even if I was inclined to give Baybrook the benefit of a doubt on this one, there's too much out there that suggests the company isn't completely on the level. For one, its claim about the CO is misdirection. The story begins with its efforts
(via baseless legal threats and zoning ordinances) to get the negative signs taken down. The city's decision to yank Arisian's CO may or may not have been urged on by Baybrook, but that's hardly the crux of the issue. Baybrook (through Ramos) claims the whole thing is motivated by the loss of the CO, but as the letter clearly states, the city was first
notified about the signs (due to "several complaints") and decided to dig around for more violations after
finding the signs to be a problem. (As the blog post detailing this points out
, the alleged violations are from 2003/2004 and, according to Connecticut law, these violations have a 6-year statute of limitations. Milford found a way around this, however.)
Furthermore, Ramos' tactics are equally questionable. His claims of slander have no basis in reality, and his tactics suggest he hasn't had much practice approaching non-review websites with takedown requests. When it became apparent I wouldn't yank the entire post, Ramos shifted from friendly to threatening, claiming he would organize his army of bloggers to write negative things about Techdirt. Even worse, he tried to promise me things he couldn't possibly deliver, like dropping a lawsuit. He didn't help his case by continually referring to Kristen's mother as a "crazy woman" and failed to bring any evidence contradicting what I had posted, other than the same letter than Kristen had posted on her own website. If this was as damning as he made it out to be, there would be little reason for Baybrook's lawsuit target to post it on her own site. Furthermore, despite his continual reference to Boing Boing, our friends at Boing Boing tell us they haven't actually heard from anyone asking to have their post (that links to ours) taken down.
As it stands now, Baybrook may not have directly
forced the city's hand on this issue, but that's only according to Baybrook's own statements. The chain of events seems to suggest otherwise. The company definitely appears
to have been instrumental in motivating the city of Milford to dig deeper into zoning ordinances after its initial attempts to have the critical signs removed failed. (See the original post for the original, completely ridiculous legal threat.) But we can be more certain about one thing: putting Ramos in charge of cleaning up the company's reputation may not be working out quite as well as Baybrook Remodelers may have envisioned.
[Addedum: Todd Ramos sent over a letter (embedded below) from the city apparently issued after the completion of Baybrook's remodeling work (although there's no name on it other than Eileen Arisian's) that states the work is complete and a Certificate of Building Compliance has been issued. It also states that no Certificate of Zoning Compliance will be issued until an As-Built survey and height certification is completed. This would indicate the city had an issue with Arisian's house in 2008. This doesn't, however, explain why it failed to be an issue until after
the signs critical of Baybrook were hung by Arisian. It also doesn't back up Ramos' claims that work was completed to Arisian's satisfaction.]