Legal problems with coldfusion coding please help...
Posted on 2004-03-24
Hello, this questions is a little off topic, but I'm figuring this is the best place to get professional opinions.
I'm a 19 year old cold fusion programmer residing in upstate new york. One day I was viewing newspaper adds and saw an add for a programmer for a local dating site. I met with 2 men, showed them my portfolio and resume and they decided to go with me. I told them I'm the man they need and that I could design the whole site for them. I started off at $100.00/week and 3 months into it asked for a raise of $300.00/week. I was advised by their next door neighbor, that they weren't totally honest people. So for security, I told them that I would not continue to work on the website unless the domain name was placed under my registrar account in my own name. They transferred it over to me. I signed a sub contractor agreement, that stated they would pay me a weekly salary, and once the site was launched I would get 12.5% of the company profits for 1 year, on the days we reached over 20 payments/day.
They eventually came to me about 2 months before the site launched and said they need a loan off of my credit card in order to meet everyones salary. So basically I was put in the position, loan them the money or I don't receive a weekly salary for who knows how long. I sent them 3800 off of my 26% interest circuit city credit card via paypal. They also tried to get me more credit cards in my name, basically up to $50,000.00 in credit card applications. Luckily because of my age and no co-signer I was denied for each credit application.
Once the site launched we were nearly bringing in 20 payments/day right off the bat. No 12.5% was ever rewarded to me. My $300.00/week was late all the time, and here they are making 5-800 dollars/day. They also paid 66% of my credit card MINIMUM blaance for 2 months, approximately $433.00. Then they stopped. The card company kept calling and kept calling and I didn't have 330/mo to pay the minimum. Now, 3 months into the job, they asked me to do non-programming related work, (spamming other dating sites) to get members to come over to ours. I dislike this kind of work entirely and recommended we use an affiliate program. I eventually could not take anymore of this data entry work, as they basically stopped me from fprogramming all together, so one day I was asked to do another employees assignment because her computer was broken. I refused. They then fired me and told me to give them all server information. Of course I naturally changed all access passwords, and completely locked them out of MY site. I coded and designed it from scratch. All they gave me were general ideas. The server was in my name as well and was configured from scratch by me.
Now as for my girlfriend, they hired her to spam, and she is 16 years of age. They told her, they would pay her $6/hour, but she only received $3/hour. The other 3 supposedly went into equity in the company. She never signed any contract with them. When they fired me they fired her as well, and at that time she had accumulated $1330.00 in 'company equity'. She wasw never paid this amount of money.
And by the way, the whole time I was working with them, I was under the impression they had legal business documentation. I eventually found out after I was fired that they did not obtain any LLC paperwork whatsoever, so I filed for the corporate name in the state of new york. I now own the LLC.
They have now complained to the new york state supreme court and its turned into a large mess. They have been lying ridiculous amounts in their affendavits. They fired their first lawyer firm after the preliminary hearing, and I have no idea why. Now they have a snake for a lawyer. He's doing nothing but trying to find me in contempt of court and trying to throw me in a state prison. Keep in mind, I'm only a 19 year old programmer that works in my own bedroom, I'm no criminal, the plaintiffs are.
I was never even awarded my last week of pay, and neither was my girlfriend. Right now the case is still in litigation but it seems to me the judge is extremely biased against me and my lawyer. From the start he's done nothing to help me, and is doing everything to help them.
It was ordered that I was to give them status quo access to the website, meaning to give them temporary adminstrative access to run the site while this case is in litigation. I gave them full access to the database, and access to all email accounts. They are able to successfully run the site. I was also ordered to give them ftp server information and root access information. I did not give it to them so once again we were called into court. The judge said that they need to get a $100,000.00 insurance policy on my software for my protection. In the meantime they took this judges order, flashed it to my server company, and to my domain registrar. The domain registrar yanked the domain name out of my account and the server company yanked root access from me from my own server. I wrote the server company and told them that it was MY job to give them the information required not theirs, and they then gave me back access to my own server. Unfortunately, they had root access for 24 hours and probably were able to sucessfully copy all of my source code. I had my lawyer contact the domain registrar stating to them that I was only supposed to transfer this to them if they got the 100,000 dollar bond. They never did, so my lawyer got the domain name put back in my own name.
Now, we went to court again, this time they wanted the judge to lower the bond amount. He lowered it to 4,500 dollars!!! But, while we were there he never said ONE thing about me giving them any ftp or root information. He told me, that their new programmer was to contact me if anything needed to be fixed or changed. I started receiving emails from these people on sunday afternoons demanding work be done within 2 hours or they would file contempt of court papers. A few days later one of the plaintiffs emailed me and said per the directive of the court I was to give him the root server password. This was never said in court, so naturally I didn't. They then filed and order to show cause for contempt of court against me. The server is MINE and my software licenses, (plesk,coldfusion enterprise 6.1,etc) reside on this server. The reason they give that they need the ftp information is to test their newly developed softtware, as they're supposed to be replacing my own.
Also keep in mind I now have to pay 650 dollars/mo to keep this server going. What I want to do is yank the server, or at least yank the licenses that are my own. But if I do this, they will hold me in contempt of court because the website is going to go down. I don't know what to do, and my lawyer doesn't seem to be helping me out too much. I need professional help, and there is no one I can complain too.
The judge has asked me to do the unspeakable. Beware this could happen to you fellow programmers. This is servere INJUSTICE!!!!!
I'm basically facing a prison sentence for not giving these people my own property and it's quite depressing. Any thoughts, opinions or acts of help would be greatly appreciated. Please help... thank you.