6,374 DISMISSED John Doe Defendants cheer as the LFP Internet Group lawsuits go down in flames.

I would like to personally congratulate the 6,374+ John Doe Defendants (3,120 + 635 + 2,619) who have been dismissed from the LFP Internet Group, LLC (Larry Flynt Productions) cases. This is a huge victory for our clients and internet users in general. What makes this case significant is not the daunting number of defendants, but that this case provides great case law for future cases.

In short, since the West Virginia Cases crumbled in December of 2010, judges across the country have taken notice that there are more issues in these cases other than plaintiffs merely being sued in the wrong jurisdiction. There and here — like dominoes tipping dominoes — the cases were dismissed and severed based on joinder issues. In short, the joinder issue can be summarized by stating that it is improper for a plaintiff attorney to sue many John Doe defendants who, when downloading — although they were all committing the same copyright infringement crimes at the same time — were not engaged in one concerted effort.

In the words of Hon. Royal Furgeson, Senior United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, the defendants may have shared files via BitTorrent, but “there are no allegations… that the Defendants are in any way related to each other, or that they acted in concert or as a group in their allegedly offending actions.” The plaintiff only claimed that “each Defendant… has used, and continues to use, BitTorrent software to reproduce and/or distribute Plaintiff’s motion picture to hundreds of other BitTorrent users.” Because the plaintiff’s infringement claims against each Defendant is based on the individual acts of each Defendant rather than “arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences,” joining them together in one lawsuit is improper.

In short, the rule we get from this monster case is an affirmation of the law from the West Virginia cases, namely, “merely committing the same type of violation in the same way does not link defendants together for purposes of joinder.” West Coast Prods., Inc. v. Does 1-535, No. 3:10-CV-94 (N.D. W. Va. Dec. 16, 2010). This is good law, and I would not be surprised if the dominoes continue to fall, knocking down one case after another.

Now what does this mean for our firm’s clients? In short, all defendants were dismissed and severed. What this means is that if the plaintiff attorneys wish to continue the lawsuit, they will have to file against each of the six thousand defendants individually. They will need to draft complaints specific to each defendant alleging infringement of their client’s copyrights — each one is extremely time consuming. They will have to get admitted (pro hac vice) in the local court in which each defendant lives, or they will have to find local counsel in each state each defendant lives and they will have to hire that local counsel to file the paperwork on their behalf. They will have to learn and follow the local court rules, they will have to pay the filing fees for each defendant (~$350) they sue, and they will have to properly serve each defendant. Then us attorneys will begin defending the cases, and we will begin conducting discovery and making them attend depositions, answer interrogatories, and prove their case. I would think this would be difficult for them to do with just a few defendants. I can imagine this would be nearly impossible to do with 6,000+ defendants. But, I’m sure if asked, they will probably post some news article expressing their determination to go after each and every defendant, and I wish them well.

As a funny closing note, I found it interesting that even in this case, the many motions to quash and motions to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction, etc., were NOT APPROVED. They were denied as moot.

30 thoughts on “6,374 DISMISSED John Doe Defendants cheer as the LFP Internet Group lawsuits go down in flames.”

  1. I wanted to point out that there were more than 6,374 defendants dismissed. I only included the cases in which our law firm had clients.

    Below are the LFP Internet Group cases which are relevant to this posting, all in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas:

    3:10-cv-01863-F, filed 09/17/10
    3:10-cv-02094-F, filed 10/15/10
    3:10-cv-02095-F, filed 10/17/10
    3:10-cv-02096-F, filed 10/18/10
    3:10-cv-02139-F, filed 10/22/10

    Also, please note that the case docket numbers have changed as this case progressed.

  2. My case is in the list above. 3:10-cv-02095-F Does this mean that I’m off the hook? I received a copy of the subpoena from my isp stating that my ip was flagged for p2p sharing of This Aint Avatar.

    1. Once the subpoena has been quashed (as it has), it will likely not be sharing your information. At this point, since your case has been severed and dismissed, if the plaintiff attorneys have already received your name, you should not be receiving any offers to settle. If you do, let me know.

  3. http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20026654-261.html

    A couple of interesting quotes from this article:

    “…LFP didn’t agree with Stone’s assessment. According to Stone, LFP managers didn’t want to challenge TWC, which is one of their business partners, and asked him to back off. Instead, he and LFP have agreed to part ways soon….”

    “…Other advantages Stone says he possesses are that all his clients, with the exception of LFP, want him to “go to the mat” on this issue….”

    I’m wondering if any new lawsuits, within the separate States, will come from these LFP lawsuits. Since it appears that LFP is not interested in filing new ones with Evan Stone.

  4. I received a settlement letter dated Feb. 8th. my case number is 3:10-cv-02139-L is that the same case as listed above? If it is, should i just disregard the settlement letter?

    1. Jonathan, yes, that is the 3:10-cv-02139-F case. Aren’t you glad you weren’t one of the 90% who get scared into settling the case? [I have e-mailed a copy of the order to your e-mail address.]

  5. i just recieved a letter saying im being sued by evan stone and lfp my case number is 3:10-cv-02095-M is mine one of those that has been dismissed?

  6. I received the same letter as Pete John. It was for a film called “This Ain’t Avatar XXX.” Has this case been dismissed? Same case number.

  7. I received a letter in the mail today dated February 8th, 2011 with my name, and address on it which my IP has given them. The case is # 3:10-cv-02139-L. Am I dismissed then? And should I be contacting anyone in regards to my case dismissal. The second page of the letter claims that if I pay up $2000 by March 1st, trail will be settled. I just want to make sure I don’t need to write them a check for such a ludicrous thing

    1. Chances are, if your case is one of the LFP cases here in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, then your case has been severed and dismissed. There were only five LFP cases. Simply look at your case number, and match the number to the list of cases I wrote below. “02139” is one of them, yes. Congratulations again.

  8. Unfortunately, this won’t stop future mass extortion, pre-trial settlement action in cases like this, will it? Do you know if anyone is looking into challenging that method, or is it unquestionably legal?

    1. Every ‘win’ changes the playing field. Using the same arguments (albeit a few days before this case), the IO Group case in California (another mass copyright infringement action) severed and dismissed its clients for reasons of improper joinder. There is a class action lawsuit pending against DGW. So as you see, we are making progress. Things just take time.

        1. The only firm playing with the idea of class certification against John Doe defendants is John Steele’s firm (Steele Hansmeier). DGW is being sued by Shirokov in MA who is attempting a class action.

  9. I have a question. I signed a statement, saying I was going to settle, and I was going to pay over the next 3 months. I have sent one payment, and unfortunately, that check has already cleared. Since the case was dropped, do I still need to pay the rest, or since I signed the settlement paperwork already, am I obligated to pay the rest?

  10. So I understand my case 3:10-cv-02139-L has been dismissed, however I have already received a letter to settle dated Feb 8, 2011. Can I just ignore this now or should I send in a “Sorry buddy, don’t have to pay you anymore” message to him?

  11. Thank you for the information. It is extremely helpful. I have a few questions, if you can please answer.

    1 – I received a settlement letter for one of these cases. Since the case is dismissed, does the lawyer or LFP still have a right to my personal information, or will they have to restart discovery? If no, what should I do?

    2 – Since the lawyer and LFP got my e-mail address, the daily content of my junk mail has exploded. Is there reason to expect that the lawsuit is responsible for this?

    3 – I am still concerned that local suits may be filed. Should I negotiate a reduced settlement to avoid being named locally? ( I did not download, but I cannot say that I know that someone else did not make the download without my permission)

    1. 1. Now that the case has been dismissed you have no need to settle, and they are forbidden from attempting to settle with you. Any attempts on their part to get you to ‘pay up’ should be forwarded to the court. Doing so will likely get the attorneys hit with sanctions. That being said, there still is the threat of being sued personally, so if the deal is reasonable, pay an attorney to take a look at the settlement offer and negotiate a proper release so that they can’t use it against you in a future lawsuit.

      2. I would think that this case has nothing to do with the amount of spam in your junk mail folder. Check your computer for malware or spyware.

      3. As I have written in my articles, the risk of being personally sued is very, very low. However, if you are looking to part with your cash and pay them, see 1.

  12. If one settled lump sum in this case does it become the plaintiff’s money? Interesting that lawyers in my part of the state don’t fool with these cases.

  13. On the 21 of February Stone file a notice in all of these cases stating that his client dismissed all of the subpoena on or about the 1 of January. If thats true, why did they all receive those settlement letters in the first place? Makes me feel Stone was up to something not good.

  14. is this done and over with? i got the copy of the subpoena they got to release my info back in december and still haven’t heard anything else?

  15. I have a client who recieved a settlement letter from Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver – Civil Action No: 1:10-cv-00873-BAH. Same basic facts involving a motion picture, The Hurt Locker, supposedly shared illegally through a peer-to-peer network (Gnutella, BitTorrent, etc.). Please advise on the probability of defeating the attempt of DGW to join individuals in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

    1. Brian, as you read more you’ll see that it will become more a function of where your client lives and whether they have local counsel there rather than what the chances are of a lawsuit [anywhere]. -Rob

  16. I received a letter from my provider stating that if I or my lawyer do not reply by November 23, 2015 my name address will be submitted as a part of a lawsuit for copyright infringement. What should I do? I have gave the code to my wifi to others I know because it’s under my name I’m responsible I’ve requested a new box and everything to start over fresh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *