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In what cases may I threaten to publish disparaging information about a corporation if certain demands are not met?

For example

1) Suppose my HVAC contractor overbills me and demands payment. I tell them I don't owe them, so they sue me. I do some research and realize that they have sued 137 people in the last two years for the same reason. Can I threaten to collect and send this information to the local newspaper if they don't drop the lawsuit? Can I ask them to pay my legal bills?

2) I've been working for a company for 15 years and haven't got a raise. I now know a lot about the company. I also have a blog that is well read in the community. Can I threaten to "quit loudly and publicly" if I don't get a raise?

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A simple definition of blackmail is:

the crime of threatening to tell secret information about someone unless the person being threatened gives you money or does what you want

Each jurisdiction will have its own nuances and case law history but that definition is close enough.

  1. Is not blackmail because the information is not secret, records of who sues who are public information. What you describe would be a valid and probably ineffectual negotiating tactic; if they launch that many lawsuits they aren't going to care who knows it, in fact, they may think it will be effective in making others pay, "See how tough we are". It would probably be more effective to say that you will try to have them declared a vexatious litigant, of course, that won't work if they usually win.
  2. This is, more than likely, blackmail assuming that what you are planning on divulging is complementary. Even if it is not blackmail it is a breach of the duty you owe your employer (even an ex-employer).
  • Thanks. Quick follow up: In case 1) The HVAC company stands to lose a ton of business if this gets out, as most people would steer clear of a place with that many customer disagreements. How far can I go in my threat - for example, can I line up a PR firm to make sure articles about their practices are published extensively? – RSWallingford May 3 '16 at 15:26
  • ..and before you even ask why I would want to do this (threaten to go on a warpath against a vexatious litigant) I'll answer. Suppose this is the only thing in the entire universe that I want to do and it makes me euphoric. – RSWallingford May 3 '16 at 15:28

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