PetaPixel

Wedding Photographer Threatened with Ludicrous $300,000 Lawsuit

Photographer and entrepreneur Gary Fong was recently contacted by a wedding photographer who found himself in a pickle: after doing a “great job” (in Fong’s opinion) in shooting a wedding, he received a menacing letter from the couple threatening him with a $300,000 lawsuit. The video above shows Fong reading the letter — which sounds an awful lot like blackmail — and explaining some of the mistakes made by the photographer. The main takeaway: always sign a contract!

(via Gary Fong)


 
 
  • Greazyjungle

    The photographer needs to make a formal complaint to the state bar association that governs this lawyer and let him explain to them why he conducts himself so unprofessionally…

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamthesam Sam Hurd

    hahaha… god i love gary fong

  • Greazyjungle

    Name the lawyer!!!

  • Simon Ouellet

    7:35 : “Wedding photographer thrown in jail”. Wait what ? How can you get thrown in jail for not delivering pictures or albums ? It’s not a crime, it might be a breach of contract, but definitely not a crime. When you break a contract, you get sued. Period. Police doesn’t break into your house with assault rifles and get you behind bars. I googled it, haven’t found a single relevant result. “I’ve known a couple instances where a photographer have been thrown in jail for not delivering their wedding albums…” Oh really ? Would you mind naming them ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamthesam Sam Hurd

    the fact that you took the time to look that up is hilarious

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neoracer-Xox/1037144278 Neoracer Xox

    Sounds like a dumb piss off B**** and WOW SURPRISE SURPRISE..SHE’S FROM WA!!!!! LOL WOmen act like that up here all the time, over-empowered by a liberal pro female legislature.

  • http://twitter.com/Mike_Philippens Mike Philippens™

    I’d ignore the letter. But then again, I’m Dutch and I always ignore crazy Americans…

    The letter doesn’t sound very ‘legal’. It’s like a letter from a 16 year old who saw a Perry Mason movie. Typical of the crazy US legal system, where these threats are commom and targeted to get an out of court settlement. A very sick system.

    I think I could write a better letter with more believable legal wording. The more I hear of the letter, the less I believe the guy is actually a lawyer. Don’t get worked up about it. It’s a fraud. Let him go to court. It won’t fly.

  • http://twitter.com/gabesturdevant gabe sturdevant

    Counter sue the lawyer for threats.

  • http://twitter.com/intensitystudio Antonio Carrasco

    It’s actually really expensive and time consuming to sue or counter sue someone

  • http://twitter.com/joakimfj Joakim

    Amazing. That is all.

  • http://twitter.com/joakimfj Joakim

    I’ll chip in. If only for the lulz.

  • round_midnight

    Something is fishy here. Gary Fong’s Wikipedia page says that he retired as a photographer in 2002.

  • checkmate

    ? Gary Fong was contacted by a wedding photographer…Gary’s reading the letter from the photographer getting sued.

  • Mansgame

    True but better than paying their blackmail

  • http://www.facebook.com/xsportseeker Renato Murakami

    If this is true, not only this photographer needs to be helped, but also the lawyer needs to be put out of his job.
    I’m guessing there’s more to this story than the letter alone, it makes no sense for someone to go this far if the job was satisfatory, but even so there’s clearly an abuse of power given his job and position.
    This letter has to be shown not only to the judge, but also for the state bar.
    It’s a crystal clear example of conduct that professionals should never take.
    Probably humans too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chinaportrait Tom Carter

    This is not a law suit, this is blackmail plain and simple. I expect that letter will get that “lawyer” disbarred before the case even goes to court. That said, wedding photography has got to be one of the most high-pressure, emotional gigs imaginable. Iron-clad contracts protecting BOTH parties are a must for wedding photography.

  • http://twitter.com/anthonylukefoto Anthony Luke

    The woman that married this douche bag lawyer is an idiot. Divorce is immanent!

  • photographergirl2

    this has happened to me. i’m a wedding photographer and an insane client did almost the same, not as ridiculous of a letter, but still ridiculous, and it wasn’t as expensive, but still freaked me out. i didn’t have a contract, and from then on i ALWAYS have a contract, but basically i had my spouse contact her and tell her the “buyer beware” warning and she backed off. i should show you all the letter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=606107929 Michele Haro

    OMG I frikken died laughing when you threw up the bird. ROFLLLLLLLLL I COULD WATCH THAT OVER AND OVER AGAIN!! BRAVO!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bettmo Bettina Monique

    yes!!! i love the finger with attitude

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.legrand Paul LeGrand

    I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t give legal advice. Our photog needs to talk to a real lawyer for advice. The lawsuit issue is legitimately part of the reason I don’t do weddings. I’ve been both a fraud investigator and evidence photographer for years now, and I’ve seen the inside of a courtroom plenty of times.

    PLAN A-

    Hopefully, this happened in a jurisdiction where a local detective will be willing to sit down with him and record the conversation while the photographer calls the attorney back. Attorney client privilege isn’t a barrier to doing this. The attorney’s the suspect, not the counsel. Might be interesting to see if the lawyer’s looking for payment in some form other than a check to the law firm.

    Although many law enforcement officers working the front desk will quickly go to the old “this is a civil matter” line, IF the letter crosses the line, and IF a detective’s willing, and IF this guy goes on record while the cops are taping it, the chances of this shakedown artist digging his own hole on the first conversation are actually pretty good, and might lead to a felony arrest.
    PLAN B-
    The other possible approach, if the newlywed attorney’s at a big firm, is to have the photographer contact an attorney of his own choosing, who’s part of the “old boy network,” and could approach one of the senior partners at the firm before an action is filed. As much as the photographer is trembling in his boots, this junior attorney is probably the one who should be having second thoughts about what he did. You can’t bet double or nothing too many times in a row. Guys like this attorney end up with tainted bar records, then end up at third rate firms or on their own, then end up losing their licenses when they get in a pinch and tap into client trust accounts. Whether the contact letter is a legitimate negotiating tactic, or a criminal act is a fine line, and the location of that line varies from state to state. Guys like this screw up and bury themselves if they don’t know their way around a criminal case, and a lot of lawyers don’t. Civil litigators without criminal law experience whose ego gets in the way of their common sense are the first ones to screw up, and the senior partners at the firm probably know this.
    PLAN C –
    If none of the above work, the photographer will have years to shelter his assets while the case moves forward. He can minimize his own legal fees, try to get a quick summary judgment to dismiss the case with prejudice, and then go spend his money sheltering assets so the attorney can’t ever collect the firm’s $50K in legal billing he pissed away trying to litigate a shoot to burn verbal contract small claims case in big court.
    PLAN D-
    Pray the attorney’s arrogant enough to pull the same stunt on a guy in an outlaw biker gang .

  • http://www.thorpephoto.com Jon Thorpe

    Whats better and cheaper than counter suing this guy?… sending this letter directly to the bar association and having his bar pulled. He would have a heck of a time suing without being a qualified lawyer. :) Thats my 2c.

  • http://www.thorpephoto.com Jon Thorpe

    Makes complete sense if you are a scumbag lawyer who wants to make an easy $28k. Would help with the wedding payments, eh?

    To clarify. The lawyer does not want the $300k… The magic number of $28,000 that he pulled out of his hat likely covers the venue rental and honeymoon.

  • http://twitter.com/losethos Terry A. Davis

    God says…
    C:TextPLATO.TXT
    re the truth about matters of high interest which a man
    honours and loves among wise men who love him need occasion no fear
    or faltering in his mind; but to carry on an argument when you
    are yourself only a hesitating enquirer, which is my condition,
    is a dangerous and slippery thing; and the danger is not that I
    shall be laughed at (of which the fear would be childish),
    but that I shall miss the truth where I have most need to be sure
    of my footing, and drag my friends after me in my fall. And I p

  • tonyl

    It is not clear wheter the photographer has actually been paid for his work. This may be a way to avoid paying the original bill. ie. Back off because I am going to sue you. Don’t even send the bill.
    I don’t believe any real lawyer would write something like this. Do we know they are real lawyers? A real lawyer would write a letter which is legal and correct in all ways. Any dirty threats/blackmail would be done over the phone so there is no evidence.
    That letter is blackmail and should be reported to the police.
    The photographer should not be afraid of bad publicity. I have found in my business (not photographic) that if customer threatens to bad mouth you there is nothing to be afraid of. They are usually known by their friends to be insane anyway.
    If they are scammers they will send a follow-up letter or make a phone call pretending to be reasonable. They will be willing to settle for a mere $10,000.
    Don’t pay a cent and report this scam to the police. If it is a real lawyer then also to their regulatory authority.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Niall-O-Hara/533080784 Niall O Hara

    That is irrelevant.

  • JohnUser

    This is why I have stopped working for any sort of lawyer. I’m an IT geek, and recently did a server install for a lawyer (the last one I all ever deal with). Everything went well, and I have the emails from her to prove it, but when it came to paying, she claimed that I had not done the work to her satisfaction, that I had installed spyware on her workstations (Teamviewer while getting everything set up), called the local police (who laughed at her), blah blah blah.

    I ended up walking away from the job; just too much aggravation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sabrina.i.schneider Sabrina Isbell Schneider

    Ridiculous. I’ve been a court reporter for 17 years and I’ve never met an attorney who would write a letter so absurd. Sounds like it was penned by a law student at best. And you’re right, he’s a bully! People are crazy. Never do a shoot and burn for a wedding and never let clients edit their own pics. And you’re right, the judge will probably throw this out of court. They don’t have time for such ludicracy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hele9us Rasmus Helenius

    Biggest mistake they made was to make this lawsuit public. This will look bad on them. Until they have a court judgement/settlement, this should not be a public case.

    Oh btw, American law is crazy…

  • Nobody

    In other news, you have no idea who Gary Fong is do you? lol

  • Mansgame

    A lot of them have a “I’m smarter than everybody else” and a chip on their shoulder. We were not paid on a job from a lawyer couple either, but I decided to eat it up if it meant never having to deal with them again.

  • Dr.Ben

    The client claims to be a lawyer. Is he really? If not, he could face criminal prosecution for usurpation of professional title. It is hard to believe that a real lawyer would risk disbarment by writing a letter that is such an obvious violation of the ethical rules to which lawyers are bound.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.neumann Matthew Neumann

    read before you post, round_midnight. ‘tard.

  • William Meyers

    With a contract, I was sued by a 5’6″ 300# bride a year after her wedding and after ordering her wedding album. She told the judge she looked fat in her photos; a sleeveless, strapless wedding dress. Yes, a mushroom top. I thought the judge was going to explode trying to keep from laughing but you never know how anything in court will turn out.
    Judge liked the photos so she lost.

  • Joe

    Name the lawyer!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.tuffley Mike Tuffley

    kickstarter! :D

  • Phase3Fotos

    sounds more like this couple was having trouble paying off their wedding….

  • Phase3Fotos

    honestly, I would DIE from a fit of laughter from this. However, no contract and a shoot to burn gig? This photographer welcomed it. But will all that aside no judge would or should entertain this BS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.siebert Kimberly Siebert

    Thats hillarious…

  • Julie Gelfand

    Extortion.

  • Mr.New

    Must be a Nigerian lawyer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508493925 Diana Tula

    I am now really curious to know who the photographer is, and who are these dumb clients.

  • rdh

    Very true. Grossly over exaggerated threats like this hopefully are not acceptable by the Bar. Hopefully he has an “Indemnification Act” for his wedding business. Professionals know this.

  • http://ddon.myopenid.com/ John

    Maybe that’s exactly the problem in this case :D

  • Matthew

    Am I the only person thinking this sounds completely fake? No lawyer writes letter in this way.

  • isosceles_kramer

    if you’re happy with the work (and if you put them on the internet publicly to show them off, that’s enough to prove you ARE) then they have no case. I’m guessing this lawyer is one of those guys who has those ridiculous ads on fox news.

    Other IT pros out there? Refuse to do this bastard’s SEO. I will.

  • isosceles_kramer

    this is what i mean, who would humiliate themselves by blaming a photographer because you’re fat, ugly, drunk or otherwise unphotogenic?

  • isosceles_kramer

    So there you have it photographers. Refuse to shoot weddings. These dumfuks ruined it for everyone i guess.

  • angelo

    ok, while I’m interested in this storyline 15 seconds into the video I had to abort due to the unbearable use “ummm” by Gary.

    Gary, really – invest a bit of time training yourself how to present before a camera.

  • Nikonhead

    The best part of this video is Gary Fong giving the finger. Now I have to order a lightsphere.