Today is October 28th, 2016. One year ago today I was sitting in a hotel room in downtown Washington, D.C. preparing for a two month internship with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, when I posted my conclusions to “The Great Lube Test of 2015,” also known as #Lubegate2015. The results of the testing I performed on 18 different samples were released in groups of like products, and the FireClean vs. Canola Oil data was by far the most popular. Little did I realize that a few months later, it would cause some serious problems for me.
When I first started my testing of firearms lubricants, I realized that no matter my conclusions, some people would be angry, claim I was wrong, or accuse me of faking the data. As I have stated before, “I decided that no matter the outcome, I would do a fair and honest test in the name of scientific fact.” After the test results were posted, I saw several people dismiss the tests because I was “only a kid,” more accuse me of having a grudge against FireClean, and some even accuse me of being paid off. While I would love to have people offer to pay me, I have never made any money off my blog (if you need proof of this, go see the signed affidavit from the FireClean LLC v. Tuohy and Baker lawsuit).
As I was busy with an internship at the time, I put most of the testing behind me once the results were posted, and didn’t think much about it for the next few months. It was only in late March that I looked back on what I did. One early Tuesday morning I got woken up by a panicked call from a family member, informing me that someone had tried to serve me legal papers at my home in New Hampshire. Thinking it was a scam, I dismissed it and went on with my day. It was only later that night after a weekly meeting of the school’s volunteer EMS squad that I got a message on my phone confirming the lawsuit.
From there things went rather quickly. I had to find a lawyer, collect evidence to support my case, and figure out how to pay for my defense, all while preparing for college finals. After multiple emails to administrators I was told that Worcester Polytechnic Institute would not offer any help defending myself from the suit, despite the school constantly encouraging students to start their own projects and do research. There was a crowdfunding campaign started by my co-defendant Andrew Tuohy of Vuurwapen Blog to raise money to fight FireClean, but of the just over $10,000 that was raised I never received a single dollar of it.
In late June, just days before the final hearing before a ruling on the merits of the case, my lawyer was contacted by council for FireClean. They offered to drop the case against me if I agreed to publicly post a retraction of my conclusions and “admit that my testing was insufficient,” give them all of my data (which can already be found here), and give them all of my communications with Andrew Tuohy so they could strengthen their case against him. In return, I was told that I would be stuck with my legal bills up to that point, and be forced to publicly lie about the validity of my testing. When my lawyer asked about FireClean covering some or all of my legal bills, we were told that “the request was not taken well” by the Sugg brothers. Given the option of walking away a loser or going into the final hearing, my lawyer indicated that he was fairly confident the case would be dismissed, and we decided not to settle.
A few weeks later I got an email from my lawyer indicating that the lawsuit had been dismissed. Reading the decision, I was proud to have stuck through it and not walked away. The judge’s decision noted a lack of scientific evidence brought by FireClean, and indicated that my science could “stand on its own.”
Winning was nice, but the bill not so much. The total cost for my legal team was roughly the same as my tuition will be this year. While a small portion of that cost had been raised by a crowdfunding campaign started by Andrew Tuohy, all of that money went to the Vuurwapen defense fund, not mine…
So, where does that leave me now? For the most part, aside from a pretty ugly legal bill, right back where I was before #Lubegate2015 (the testing) or #Lubegate2016 (the lawsuit). I’m now well into my senior year of college at WPI, finishing up a materials science minor, and working on my senior research project (don’t worry, it’s completely unrelated to lubricants or firearms). I’m glad to say that I had plenty of supporters stand with me over the past year, but none were bigger than my family. They helped me every step of the way, and encouraged me to stand for what I believe in, so I owe them a huge thanks.
I may have had to pay a pretty big bill, but I can say I got some good life experience along the way. And on the bright side of all of this, I have a pretty great story to tell at job interviews…