After FireClean filed the lawsuit against blogger Andrew Tuohy of Vuurwapen Blog, the reaction online was quick and viscous. The company took quite the Public Relations hit. Many have believed that the suit was an attempt to silence bloggers and reviewers online.
On the other side of the coin, those who supported the suit believed FireClean to be taking legal action to right a wrong. To clarify why they filed the suit, and circumstances surrounding it, FireClean has released a statement. In it, FireClean asserts that they are not attempting to pursue action on an opinion, but what they feel was an unsubstantiated attack on their company by someone who ignored attempts by the company to educate them. They claim that FireClean is not a big bad wolf against bloggers and reviewers.
The statement in full:
FireClean LLC has recently filed a lawsuit against Andrew Tuohy and Everett Baker, asserting defamation and Virginia Business Conspiracy Act claims against these defendants, who with the specific purpose of harming FireClean, initiated a protracted and intentional smear campaign against the company.
FIREClean’s patent application was publicly accessible online two years before Tuohy wrote about FIREClean®. The patent application, on the very first page, describes a product that is composed of at least three substances, which may be plant or vegetable-based oils, and which make up between 25 and 100 percent of the formulation. Tuohy never undertook to test this statement. He chose a test that would give him the result he wanted so that he could publish sensational headlines. An infrared spectroscopy analysis was not sufficient to distinguish FIREClean® from Crisco vegetable or canola oil, and Tuohy knew this. Moreover, even after publishing his articles, Tuohy was alerted to this fact by other readers of his blog, and he never undertook to correct his analysis or conclusions.
When Tuohy told us that he intended to publish his first article- the night before he published it- and told us what his conclusions would be, we asked him for a chance to read it first, so we could provide a proper response. He refused. In his blog post he stated, “That is not how this blog works.”
Clearly, Tuohy wanted to turn a blind eye to anything that might tamper down his eye-grabbing headlines. He wanted readership, not the truth.
Some recent public social media comments have compared our suit against Tuohy to a David-versus-Goliath First Amendment case. It is anything but that. In fact, Tuohy has as many aircraft registered in his name as FireClean has employees (two). FireClean is a small business that has been subject to an unprovoked and unfair attack.
FIREClean® is not Crisco Vegetable nor Canola oil – nor otherwise common vegetable oil. FIREClean® is a proprietary, high-efficiency formulation that yielded unprecedented results in Tuohy’s own live-fire use. Tuohy’s separate statements that are the subject of our lawsuit were false, continuous, persistent, and maliciously made. FireClean has no choice but self defense. Anyone who thinks the company is wrong for doing so has clearly never had their livelihood attacked by someone engaged in a protracted smear campaign.
The Citizens of the United States of America certainly enjoy the freedom of speech provided in the First Amendment. But just as it is illegal to run into a crowded theater and yell “fire” when there is no fire, there are limits on—and repercussions to—speech that is intentionally or negligently false, that causes harm to another. These are the rights that we seek to vindicate.
In these types of lawsuits, quite simply the truth will set one free.
FireClean will have to show, in court, that their formula is not what Vuurwapen implied and likewise Tuohy will have to show that there was sufficient evidence to support his assertions and that he completed the due diligence prior to such articles.
My parting thought? The comment on number of airplanes was in poor taste. I get trying to drive a point, but there is a line of class that I feel was crossed there.
UPDATE: It appears Andrew does not have 5 aircraft (look in the comments below). Fireclean says …