The news that legendary Los Angeles BDSM and fetish company The Stockroom was suing former employee Abigail Greydanus quickly became a subject of intense discussion on fetish forums such as RubberPal and FetLife.
The filing of the lawsuit in the LA Superior Court last Thursday (May 5) had been picked up by Associated Press, which had spotted the celebrity connection (to Katy Perry), and AP’s brief report quickly became a hot Google news item, spurring the forums into life.
Armed only with AP’s quick snapshot of the lawsuit’s substance, forum users began speculating on the likelihood of Stockroom being able to win a case under Californian law that many early posters thought, on the basis of the AP account, had little merit and little chance of success.
On FetLife, thoughtful contributions from the likes of Kumimonster helped to open up the topic to further intelligent discussion, albiet hampered by lack of the detail of Stockroom’s deposition, or indeed any kind of statement from Stockroom explaining its actions.
All this speculation finally prompted Stockroom owner Joel Tucker to join the FetLife discussion himself and provide a response which, while measured and careful not to give too much away, sought to emphasise that the company was not acting out of a “sue first, ask questions later” mentality, as some people assumed.
This is what Tucker said on FetLife:
“We didn't go out of our way to make this legal matter a topic of discussion in public forums, preferring to rely on the court system to resolve these matters. But the newswires picked it up, probably because they automatically scan legal filings for celebrity names.
“We have consulted with our very capable attorney (who by the way has plenty of work and has never lost a case, primarily because he doesn't take frivolous or weak cases), and on consideration we prefer to keep our comments on the details of this case fairly general for the present.
“However, there does seem to be a lot of opinion and speculation circulating on this issue in some of the small, tight-knit communities that we serve and support, so some response from our side might be expected.
“I can say, first, that attempts to address our concerns in a less litigious manner were made, and weren't successful. Warning was given and ignored. We concluded this step was necessary to protect the company's rights and the creative work (and livelihood) of the many people who have worked on the Stockroom/Syren team over the years and presently.
“We wouldn't have taken this step without a careful consideration of the law, the facts, the history, and the ethics of this situation. We have had many production and creative people come and go over the years, including some who have gone into business for themselves or joined other companies, with or without our blessing.
‘We’ve never taken an action like this before, and I certainly hope we never will again. These are extraordinary circumstances’ – Joel Tucker
“But we have never taken an action like this before, and I certainly hope we never will again. These are extraordinary circumstances. I am confident in the soundness of our position from both a legal and a moral standpoint.
“Public speculation and controversy isn't something that I enjoy, but it is not a great surprise to see it happening now. A lot of the speculation seems to stem from uninformed assumptions about what the case is about, and/or expresses legal opinions that are either not applicable or (IMO) incorrect in some instances.
“From reading previous comments [on FetLife], I don't get the impression that anyone has actually read the filings. I think it's easy to jump (or at least lean) towards the conclusion that this is a big mean corporation bullying the ‘little guy’. That may be a natural first impression, but I think as the facts come out, the tide may turn.
“On the brighter side, at least people are interested in these issues, and they care what happens in and around these communities that we serve (and which, I would add, we have tried to support in numerous ways over many years). We, in turn, are concerned about our public image.
“Over the long term, I think doing the right thing (as opposed to just trying to say the right thing) should be our primary strategy. I don't claim we are perfect, but I trust the company's long track record to speak for itself for the most part.
“This company started out as the ‘little guy’ (me, at the age of 21). Today, yes, it is an actual corporation, with a larger staff than I envisioned in those early days. But it's still a small, creatively-oriented company. We aren't automatically hostile to other companies in our industry, of whatever size. I think it's fair to say we are on good terms with most of them.
“I don't want to come across as one of those corporate suits that spews a lot of words without actually saying anything real. I'm trying to make relevant comments while keeping them general for now. Under the circumstances I've said as much as I feel that I should for the moment. There may be more comment later, we'll see.”
Much better than nothing though it was, this statement still left forum participants with a vital gap in their collective knowledge: what was the actual detail of the lawsuit that Stockroom had filed?
After further discussion, it was established that the papers were legitimately available for public scrutiny and, while they were not obtainable free, one could get copies for a small fee. Kumi stepped up to the plate, and armed with the full content, began to copy and paste substantial chunks of the text of the suit into the still very active FetLife discussion.
So, if you’re interested enough to want to know the chapter and verse of Stockroom’s allegations, you can now find most of it by going to the relevant FetLife discussion (see link below). You’ll probably want to put aside about an hour to peruse the lot, but if you have the time, it does make interesting reading.
STOP PRESS: Archean has now added a very readable overview of the case — including a detailed but easily digested summary of Stockroom’s court filing — on her Miss Rubber World blog (link in panel on right).
Armed with the full content, Kumi began to copy and paste substantial chunks of the text of the suit into the still very active FetLife discussion