Thursday, August 24, 2017

When asked about specific false statements in my post about Andy Schroeder, president of South Central Steel, lawyer Tommy Majors produces a strange reply

Andy and Monica Schroeder Johnson
An Alabama lawyer who claims I defamed his client, when asked for specifics, can't point to a single statement in my post that is false. In the process, attorney Tommy B. Majors provides one of the strangest replies I have ever seen to a law-related question.

Majors represents Andy Schroeder, president and owner of South Central Steel in Harpersville. We reported in a July 12 post that Schroeder's name appears on the Alabama list of paying customers for the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site. In a letter dated August 7, Taylor demanded that I "cease and desist" from defaming Schroeder's character and remove the offending post from Legal Schnauzer. (A copy of the cease and desist letter is embedded at the end of this post.)

Majors asserts multiple times in his letter that my post about Schroeder is "false," he invites me to direct any questions to him -- and he notes that if I don't remove the post within three days, I will face a lawsuit, seeking money damages, costs, attorney fees, etc. I did, in fact, have a question or two, so I followed instructions and sent my queries to Majors. The No. 1 question: What specifically is false in my report about Schroeder?

The lawyer had a hard time with that question; I had a hard time getting a straight answer from him about anything. In the end, we had a brief e-mail chain that left me wondering, "Why in the hell did this guy send a 'cease and desist' letter, threatening a lawsuit, when he can't articulate anything that is false in my post?" The exchange began with this e-mail from Majors, with his cease and desist letter attached:

Mr. Shuler,

Please be advised that The Majors Law Firm represents Andy Schroeder. I am writing you with specific regard to the defamatory statements made in your 12 July 2017 blog post about Andy Schroeder. Please see attached Cease and Desist Letter requesting the immediate removal of the posting and further assurance that you will cease further defamation.

Please email me with any questions and for further information on how to supply the written assurance.

Kind regards,

Tommy B. Majors IV

As you can see, I was instructed to address questions to attorney Majors; so, I did:

Mr. Majors:

You allege my blog post re: Andy Schroeder contains false and defamatory statements, but you provide no specifics. What specifically do you claim to be false in the post? Are you claiming that Mr. Schroeder's name does not appear on the list of paying customers at Ashley Madison?

You might think that would be an easy question for a lawyer to answer. But you would be wrong, and it prompted Majors to take the e-conversation in a peculiar direction:


In all sincerity, I assure you that Mr. Schroeder was not nor was ever a paying or otherwise subscribed member to Ashley Madison. Mr. Schroeder is a good man, a loving husband and father. Whatever information you based the post on, it is not true.

In the kindest way possible, please remove the post. We ask with kind regards, but if we are forced to we will take the appropriate action to clear his good name.

Wow, a lawyer wants me to take his claim "in all sincerity." Good thing I didn't have a mouthful of food when I read that. Mr. Taylor probably would be surprised to learn that when a lawyer "assures" me of something . . . it's not all that assuring. When a lawyer asks me to do something with "kind regards," accompanied by a threat, I don't take it so kindly. So, I tried to clarify things:


You didn't answer my question, which is this: Are you claiming that Andrew R. Schroeder's name does not appear on the list of paying Ashley Madison customers in Alabama?

How did Majors reply to that? He didn't. But I still had questions, so as instructed, I directed them to him -- and I decided that two can play the threat game:

Tommy Majors
I have another question: Are you saying you have checked the list of Ashley Madison paying customers in Alabama, which is widely available, and the name Andrew R. Schroeder isn't on there? As an attorney, I'm sure you are aware of your Rule 11 obligations to investigate claims before filing suit. You likely are aware that an Alabama lawyer recently was disciplined for failing to adequately investigate a client's claims before filing suit. You should have completed an investigation before dashing off a threatening letter to me. That you apparently didn't suggests you and your client know you have no case, and your letter was sent only for purposes of intimidation and harassment. Such reckless acts can have serious consequences for you and Mr. Schroeder.

Bottom line: If you haven't investigated your client's claims, I would suggest you do so. If you have checked the Ashley Madison list and can't find the name of Andrew R. Schroeder, with an address in Greystone, I would suggest you look a little harder.

You should know that I have 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, and I don't take kindly to threatening letters from lawyers, who don't know what they are talking about. I take my rights and responsibilities under the First Amendment seriously, and any baseless lawsuit filed against me will be met with counterclaims, motions for sanctions, bar complaints, and any other appropriate actions.

My post re: Mr. Schroeder is 100 percent factual and is not defamatory in the slightest. It will not be removed. I attempted to reach him via Facebook before publication, giving him every opportunity to comment or answer questions, and he did not respond. Contrary to allegations in your letter, I did my due diligence. Unlike you, I did the research necessary to know that Mr. Schroeder's name is on the list.

If you proceed with a baseless lawsuit, you should know that you will have a fight on your hands. If your client has a problem with his name appearing at Ashley Madison, I would suggest he contact Ashley Madison.

Kind regards,


What was Majors' response? Nothing, crickets. Apparently, you can ask him questions, but that doesn't mean he's going to answer them. That last e-mail was dated Aug. 9, and I've heard nothing since then from Schroeder or his lawyer. The lawsuit that was promised within three days has not materialized.

What were Majors and Schroeder trying to pull with their threatening letter? I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing they knew they had no defamation case, but they thought I might be an easy mark and would remove the post anyway. It apparently never occurred to them that I might have a spine, I might know a thing or two about communications law, and I might have thoroughly researched my article before posting it.

Will they still take some sort of action? Too early to say, but we will keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

Here's the part of the law that is gonna get you in the end:

"...or with reckless disregard of whether the statement is false or not..."

Anonymous said...

Roger, you are well aware at this point that you cannot prove Mr. Schroeder was an Ashley Madison customer. You have no access to the data in question, just a second hand list of unknown origin. This has been pointed out to you many times. The only reason your latest victim won't be pursuing this is because you can't get blood from a stone.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:41 --

I love it when anon commenters like you tell me what I am or am not aware of -- or what data I do or do not have. I'm dying to know how you know these things. Please contact me via private e-mail at or call (205) 381-5673. I'm dying to know how you became a modern day "Carnac, the Magnificent."

legalschnauzer said...

@8:55 --

Are you really that stupid, or does stupidity sort of pass over you, like an eclipse?

The "reckless disregard" standard applies only to a false statement. If the statement is true, and my reporting on Mr. Schroeder is true -- even his own attorney can't show otherwise -- there can be no "reckless disregard." Even the most low-level simpleton should be able to figure that out. If anyone publishes a true statement, he cannot exhibit "reckless disregard" for the truth; He found the truth. Get it?

Yours might be the most comically ignorant comment I've ever seen. Made me LOL, especially when it's presented with such seriousness. I would suggest you not apply to law school.

Anonymous said...

But . . . but . . . Mr. Schnauzer, this lawyer is "assuring" you of something "with all sincerity." Doesn't that pull at your heart strings? How can you resist such a request?

I didn't know a lawyer was capable of speaking with sincerity. This is one hell of an event.

Anonymous said...

I would say Mr. Schroeder needs to find a way to back out of this gracefully. He should start by finding a real lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Hey, @9:41 --

I'm thinking right now about a certain historical figure. Can you tell me which one it is?

Anonymous said...

Roger, it really hurts you that your brother went to law-school, graduated, passed the bar, doesn't it? You bend over backwards to show your "knowledge of the law"----that "knowledge" has really served you well, hasn't it?

I think the root of all your issues is your jealously over your mother's pride for her son who is an attorney.

Anonymous said...

Hey, @9:41 --

I'm thinking about where I'm going to lunch, and I've picked the place. Where am I going to have lunch?

After that, at a specific time, I plan to scratch my nuts. When do I plan to scratch my nuts?

legalschnauzer said...

@10:44 --

Wow, you nailed it. I'm jealous of someone who is a member of probably the most despised profession in the country, a profession that amounts to glorified organized crime. Gee, I never knew. Thanks so much for your "insight."

Yep, my goal always has been to be like the guy who wrote the letter at the end of the following post. I've always wanted to have that kind of "integrity" and "sense of fair play." Goodness knows, my mother should be proud of having a son who produces that kind of "work product." She also should be proud of a lawyer who offered to help her grandson and didn't do a damned thing to help him. Records indicate the lawyer screwed his own nephew. Yep, that's what I want to be.

Anonymous said...

The Ashley Madison customers need to hit the Paypal button and send roger money. A lot of money will put blood in his "stones" and he will stop writing the Ashley Madison series to protect his ass ets.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:13 --

How would reporting truthful and accurate posts threaten my assets, under the law? Care to explain.

Anonymous said...

I figured if they are stupid enough to send money to Ashley Madison thinking they are going to get a little strange on the side, they will send you money thinking you are not judge proof anymore.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:36 --

You might be right. That otherwise intelligent, accomplished people could be stupid enough to send money to Ashley Madison -- to fall for that con game -- boggles the mind. That's probably the No. 1 point of my reporting -- that we have these people in highly responsible positions and they are stupid enough to fall for such a scam. Makes you wonder how anything gets done in this country.

Anonymous said...

While it is true there is a list out on the internet of AM customers. It is true that the list has names and account numbers on it. It appears also to be true that you have a copy of that list. All of the above are true statements, but only a person who worked for AM in their accounting dept could testify under oath to authenticate that list. I'm sure a reporter like yourself would have that authentication before printing the list in public.

Anonymous said...

He should thank you because I am sure his hits on AM are way up!!!!

legalschnauzer said...

@12:04 --

Two points:

(1) Checking with someone in AM's accounting dept. hardly is the only way to authenticate that list. In fact, trying to get a straight answer from someone who works for a company that essentially "sells" dishonesty would be one of the worst ways to authenticate. I've done the legwork to know the list I have is authentic, and the last person I would check with is someone at AM's accounting dept.

(2) You seem to be admitting that my reporting is accurate, so what's your problem, what's your point?

legalschnauzer said...

@12:21 --

Legal Schnauzer has been ranked among the top 50 law blogs in North America for a reason. I had plenty of hits, long before most of us ever heard about Ashley Madison. This blog has been influential because of its credibility, its accuracy, and its ability to present complex legal concepts in a way that the general public can understand. I've been thrown in jail, my wife has been beaten up by cops, and we've had our house stolen from us . . . all in an effort to shut down the influence of this blog. But we're still here. We've had hundreds of visits from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in D.C., plus both houses of Congress, etc. That kind of interest and credibility doesn't happen by accident; it's earned. It's nice to have a sizable number of hits -- and we do -- but the quality of our hits matters most to me, and there likely aren't many law blogs that can compete with us on quality. You might be dense enough to take it as a joke, but the record shows that extremely smart people in positions of highest authority take it damned seriously. And the crooks we've unmasked take it seriously enough that they are willing to commit felonies in an effort to shut it down.

Anonymous said...

"Top 50 law blogs in North America" is like the tallest house in a Potemkin village.

How many law blogs are there? And why haven't you been named lately? Maybe bc your descension into madness (yes, king george) and smut has removed your little URL from their list of 127 law blogs to consider for "Top 50."

Anonymous said...

@10:44 is David Shuler's wife, Gina Hayes Shuler. You can take that to the bank. She's trying to defend hubby because no else will do it, certainly not any of his clients.

You should contact a man named Scott Wells in Springfield. He was a victim of David's horrible criminal defense work and sued him for legal malpractice. Wells probably would have been successful, but his attorney bailed out not long before trial -- curious timing, and I'm close enough to Mr. Wells to know he believes someone paid off his lawyer to bail out and save David Shuler's sorry ass.

I've seen the record on that case, and it's filled with examples of incompetence and laziness. Anyone who would hire David Shuler as a lawyer is a fool. Just go to Greene County courthouse and ask to check file on Scott Wells v. David Shuler. That will tell you all you need to know about Mr. Shuler's "legal abilities."

David was part of Young & Shuler firm then, and Young left the partnership after the Wells malpractice lawsuit targeted both Shuler and the firm. Young didn't want to be vulnerable again because of Shuler's incompetence.

legalschnauzer said...

@2:27 --

I bet you are right about @10:44 being Gina. I knew David had been sued for legal malpractice, but did not know the details. Need to learn more about Wells case. My impression is that David doesn't do criminal defense much anymore, and the Wells case might be the reason for that.

Not sure why anyone would hire David as a divorce lawyer. He told me that he encourages his divorce clients to settle and tells them, in so many words, "If you don't settle, you run the risk of losing at trial." I assume he tells them that after they've already paid him a nice chunk of change up front.

I took that to mean that he essentially tells them to do the work of the case themselves -- to settle it -- while he gets paid a princely sum and shuffles a few papers. It sounds to me that if you are his divorce client -- and you've been the victim of domestic violence or serial adultery -- he still encourages settlement, and he's not likely to fight for you.

Anonymous said...

@12:21. I was pointing out he is drawing attention to himself, not putting down your blog. I think his protests are self serving. No density intended.

legalschnauzer said...

@3:29 --

Thanks for the clarification. Sorry for noting density where none was involved.

legalschnauzer said...

@2:20 --

You have no clue how many law blogs exist? Maybe you should refrain from showing your ignorance.

Consider the number of lawyers, law schools, law professors, law students, legal associations, legal media outfits, specialty areas of the law -- and many, many lawyers write blogs to help drum up business -- well, you don't have to be too bright to see the number of law blogs is big. In North America, the number probably ranges well into the 100s of thousands, maybe more than a million.

To be a non-lawyer, with a blog ranked in the top 50, is extraordinary. You are too stupid, obviously, to grasp that. But for those who care more about facts than being a smart-ass, this information likely is of interest.

You likely are bitter because you haven't accomplished anything in life, but don't blame your "sad sack" status on me.

Anonymous said...

This is @2:27 again, the guy who knows Scott Wells.

You might be interested to know Gina and David Shuler have set up a GoFundMe site to raise money for their disabled son, Jack. I feel for Jack, but his parents are wealthy, with all kinds of liquid assets, plus numerous pieces of real estate. They go on vacations all over the place, even outside the US. I don't think GFM was set up to help people who have plenty of assets. I would call it shameless, and it almost seems like fraud. Here is link:

legalschnauzer said...

@5:58 & @2:27 --

Hmmmm . . . that's interesting.

Anonymous said...

@3:50. I love and follow your journalism. Sorry if my post was disrespectful or shallow.

Anonymous said...

This is Scott Wells' friend again -

You might want to check into the real estate holdings of Gina H. and David N. Shuler. They are on GoFundMe, raising funds for their son, Jack, but their residence in the Millwood golf-course community has an estimated sales value at Zillow of $713,000. And that's just one of 10-12 homes or lots they own. People with that kind of dough need money from GoFundMe.

I think Gina is just bored and needs attention, and this is her way of getting it. She and her family certainly don't need the money.

legalschnauzer said...

@2:00 --

Thanks for sharing. I recently heard a little bit about this situation -- in fact, I think the GFM page just went up maybe a couple of weeks ago. Going to look into it further. I know about some of their vacation trips -- to Europe, California, Utah (I think, somewhere with ski resort) -- and that's fine. But to live this lavish lifestyle and then seek money on GFM seems a bit over the top.

My impression is that they certainly can afford to pay for Jack's medical bills on their own.