I have talked to 2 attorneys about this subject. I also sent mail to a
friend at the State Attorney General Office but have not gotten a reply yet.
Here is the conclusion from 2 attorneys as it relates to negligence.
As the List MANAGER (Note the word manager) you MAY be negligent if you fail
to protect members from dangers that are foreseeable and avoidable. If
several users complain that one of your members has threatened to kill them
and you do nothing you may be "knee deep in the doo-doo" if that member does
kill or harm someone. Why? Once you were notified of the danger future
damage was definitely foreseeable the next question is was it avoidable from
the perspective of a ordinary, reasonable and prudent person. Since we all
remove users when their mailboxes fill or their accounts are removed, member
removal is a valid action.
Both attorneys agreed that they would remove a threatening or very abusive
user at once. One stated that he might give the member a warning. They
both thought that the offending member had very few rights in this case, if
any (That may change if the list charges money. A paying member might have
One attorney thought that they would immediately post a disclaimer stating
to all current and new members that:
You shall hold harmless this list and the list administration for all...
The list administration makes not warrantees about blah, blah...
All list users assume responsibilities for use of this list...
The list administration is not responsible for the action of
The administration remove users from this for any reason....
The list administrator runs this as a free service and shall not
be held responsible for any income loss or damages. blah, blah..
I think that you get the idea. So the smart thing is to have a disclaimer.
Both attorney agreed that as the manager you do have duties. One of the
keys to avoiding a negligence suit is by doing (or not doing) what a
Prudent, reasonable and ordinary person would do.
PLEASE: Do not send me lay person opinions of law. My mail box is folding
under the weight people telling me that list managers have no legal duties.
After receiving legal advice from people who have passed the bar I think I'm
all set. :)
Copyright 1996 (c) Penn Jennings
The road to evil is paved with good intentions.