October 18, 2018
A new legal-services app enables users to sue just about anyone with their smartphones and to claim awards from class-action lawsuits, much in the same way they would select a match on Tinder —with a quick “swipe right to sue,” the Washington Post reported on October 16.
The app, dubbed DoNotPay, launched this week and already has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, according to creator and founder Joshua Browder—a 21-year-old senior at Stanford University who has been labeled the “Robin Hood of the Internet” by the BBC.
As an 18-year-old, Browder first created a chatbot— a computer program that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual method—that helped drivers to challenge parking tickets in New York, London, and Seattle.
Following that successful trial, he developed another bot to help people sue consumer credit reporting agency Equifax last year, after a data breach left 143 million American consumers vulnerable to identity theft.
He told the Post this week that he came up with the idea for his latest project—available and working in all 50 states —after a number of people used DoNotPay to recoup as much as $11,000 from Equifax, even after the credit reporting agency appealed the suit.
The updates to the “robot lawyer app’ introduced this week allow users to sue a defendant for up to $25,000, the Post reports.
“I think people are really upset with how the legal system works,” Browder said in an interview with the news outlet “Lawyers say this app isn’t necessary, but if your issue is below $10,000, no lawyer is going to help, and if they do they’re going to take 50 percent of what you make.”
“The most popular claims so far involve a merchant breaching a contract, such as United Airlines kicking someone off a flight,” Browder noted. “There [are] a large number of negligence suits, which is very interesting.”
How exactly does the app work?
Once opened, the app tells users they can sue anyone by pressing a button. The app then asks several questions about the nature of the filing, as well as users’ name and location, before asking the user to fill in the amount for which they plan to sue.
After directing the claim into one of 15 separate legal lanes —from automobile accident to recovering personal property—DoNotPay provides the documents necessary to file the suit—among them, a demand letter, county filing documents, and even a strategic script to read in court. Users print out the documents and mail them to the relevant courthouse, setting the lawsuit in motion.
The app can also analyze a user’s receipts and email, and display all the class-action lawsuit settlements they’re eligible for, Browder told the Post.
“In true millennial fashion, the user can then swipe right on lawsuits that interest them (or left if not) and DoNotPay will instantly claim the funds,” he added.
The app is free, and users are allowed to keep any money they recoup. However, if the app offers more specialized services in the future, Browder said, it is possible that they will come with a price tag.
Research contact: Browder@stanford.edu