Thousands of John Doe Defendants Quietly Dismissed!

In a flick of the wrist and a slight of hand letter to the court, plaintiffs Dunlapp, Grubb, & Weaver (“DGW”) have possibly dismissed more accused John Doe defendants than ever before in the history of these bittorrent lawsuits. In a letter to the court titled a “Consolidated Status Report Pursuant To The Court’s Direction of 3/1/2011,” the plaintiff attorneys have dismissed* almost every defendant in almost every one of their mass copyright infringement lawsuits.

*I will explain below what I mean by dismissed, because I am not using the term in its conventional use. A more proper term for what they have done is that they have “dumped” these defendants rather than having them dismissed and released from the lawsuit.

The cases in which John Doe defendants have been affected are:

Call of the Wild Movie, LLC v. Does 1-1,062 (1:10-cv-004455-BAH)
Maverick Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Does 1-4,350 (1:10-cv-00569-BAH)
Voltage Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-5,000 (1:10-cv-00873-BAH), and
Donkeyball Movie, LLC v. Does 1-171 (1:10-cv-01520-BAH).

– NOTE: the “BAH” at the end of the case names is a recent change in the case names. When checking your case to determine whether this applies to you, just look at the 1:10-cv-“XXXXX” number and compare it to the case number you received from your ISP to determine whether this is your case.

This is a huge victory to our clients and those of the 10,000+ defendants that have been dismissed. No doubt we will be sending letters of congratulations to our clients in these cases in the coming days.

Now a little about these cases. These were what I like to call the initial “monster” cases, filed by DGW. They were the cases where thousands of John Doe defendants were sued, regardless of whether the courts had jurisdiction or not. These cases were also filed prior to the 6,000 Larry Flint Productions (LFP Internet Group, LLC) cases in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas and other cases (e.g., Far Cry) were severed and dismissed for improperly joining defendants in one John Doe lawsuit. In addition, these cases were more famously known as “the Hurt Locker” case, “The Call of the Wild” case, among other more famous titles.

As you can read by the filing, the plaintiff attorneys have determined that there is nobody to name in these cases, and thus they have determined to dump the defendant pool as a whole and rethink their strategy.

If you are a former defendant in this case, firstly we congratulate you. This is a big victory. However, with every victory comes a bit of bitterness. Here, the plaintiffs have determined on their own to not proceed with the current pool of defendants, which means that they have a few years from the alleged date of infringement to sue these defendants individually or as smaller groups in their home states.

On top of this, this is not an explicit dismissal, as a voluntary dismissal of all defendants would be. Here, the plaintiff attorneys have simply mentioned that they are not going to “name” defendants (see our article here to understand what it means to be “named”). In addition, it is not an order of severance by the judge dismissing all defendants. It is simply a “heads up” letting the court know they won’t be going after the various defendants.

This is good, with three caveats:

Firstly. Their note only refers to defendants where the ISP has handed their subscriber information over to the plaintiff attorneys. Defendants whose information has not yet been shared (e.g., my more recent clients in the past few weeks) are likely not included in this declaration of theirs because the ISPs have not yet given over their information to the plaintiff attorneys.

Secondly. The plaintiff attorneys can still sue all of these defendants in the US District Courts for the district where the defendants live. (You can read more about the likelihood of them doing this in this article.)

Thirdly. These cases are still alive! After filing this memo, the plaintiff attorneys proceeded to file a memo why a number of motions to quash the subpoena should be denied. They also filed an opposition motion asking the judge to deny these motions to quash. So the cases themselves are still alive and for the time being, well.

In closing. To those John Doe defendants and the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who have been sitting around for months, feel free to breathe easy for now. I will continue monitoring these cases for changes, but you should feel comfortable considering yourselves dismissed. The numbers are certainly on your side and while the risk of being sued individually is always present, the likelihood of hearing from the plaintiff attorneys ever again is very low.

27 thoughts on “Thousands of John Doe Defendants Quietly Dismissed!”

  1. I found another “bandwagon copyright champion” that seems to have jumped on for the money as well, that seems to be floating under the radar.

    http://www.rfcexpress.com/search.asp?page=1&partyName=patrick%20collins&caseTypes=%27C%27

    Early on(Page 3), he goes after several thousands at a time, but the cases don’t seem to progress at all. The attorney doesn’t really seem to be putting much effort into pursuing the cases.

    However, this past month there has been a sudden upshift by way of dozens of “v. Does 1-6” style small group suits that are popping up in several states.

    I have no idea what “Patrick Collins, LLC” is or does, but it’s interesting to note this activity. I would think the fees for hiring the local counsel to begin with for each of those cases in each of those areas would make this tactic pretty cost prohibitive, but we’ll see how things go.

  2. I’d received from Comcast re the
    Maverick Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Does 1-4,350 (1:10-cv-00569-BAH) case. I’ve until 3/31/2010 to respond else Comcast was going to release my IP info.

    Per caveat #1:
    Their note only refers to defendants where the ISP has handed their subscriber information over to the plaintiff attorneys. Defendants whose information has not yet been shared (e.g., my more recent clients in the past few weeks) are likely not included in this declaration of theirs because the ISPs have not yet given over their information to the plaintiff attorneys.

    I’m deemed to be part of “are likely not included in this declaration …”.

    So, am I off the hook? Will Comcast to continue to reveal my information post 3/31?

    Thanks for any insights.

  3. So if someone would to receive a letter stating that Maverick Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Does 1-4,350 (1:10-cv-00569-BAH) is still going on and you have by a certain day to reply and you do not is this a scare tactic even though this has been dismissed?

  4. I am an attorney, and I have advised a person of little means and resources who has been caught up in this web. I have referred her to the USF ipjustice clinic. She is one whose information has not yet been turned over to the plaintiffs.

    My question is this: In light of these recent developments, doesn’t Comcast have a duty to file a 3rd party motion to quash. fight the subpoena and protect their customers’ private information? Why is Comcast just throwing their customers under the bus?

    I have suggested to this person that she write Comcast and cancel her service, and that she file a formal complaint against Comcast with the FCC and appropriate state agency.

    I’d like to know your thoughts on this strategy.
    Thanks.

    1. I think you might want to reconsider your advice to your client, because it sounds like you’re about to get your client in trouble. This is a federal case; most clinics wouldn’t even know what to do with it. In a perfect world, the ISP would file a motion to quash, but since these cases began popping up last year, they have not done this for their subscribers. I do not see how your advice to file a complaint against the ISP will help your client either. In short, the plaintiff attorneys likely have no intention of taking your client to trial; they will send what is known as a ‘scare’ letter demanding a few thousand dollars to settle the case, and then they will do whatever they can to persuade her to settle her case, usually with an “or else” mentioned in that same sentence.

  5. Docket#: 1:10-cv-00569

    http://ia700304.us.archive.org/14/items/gov.uscourts.dcd.141583/gov.uscourts.dcd.14 1583.docket.html

    *** see items 96, 97

    Looking at the latest filings, the 4,350 DOEs (first it was 1,000, then 4,350), is now 2,125. About 2,225 of them got dismissed from the suit due to “local jurisdiction” reasons that they’re not in the DC-area.

    The kicker is, most/lot, of the dismissed DOEs have their names, addresses included in the doc available for all to see. I wonder whether if they all will received settlement letters.

  6. I really don’t understand how Maverick Entertainment can sue anyone for copyright infringement on a title they do NOT own. Even in the Court documents it CLEARLY states the tile “The Clique”, in the IP tracker and ISP provider. NOT the tile copyright by Maverick.

    Maverick Entertainment has no rights to “The Clique” it is copyright by Warner Home video. For them to post the title “The Clique” and collect IP information about people downloading the title they don’t own is in itself deceitful and maybe even fraudulent itself. By leveraging the Warner Home video title to drum up more hits on their own posted copyright video of a different name “DEATH CLIQUE” they obviously premeditated their actions to bait and switch to collect more IP’s. I mean really, how can an unknown movie called “DEATH CLIQUE” have as many hits as an Oscar winner???

    I am perplexed as to why Judge Howell didn’t even bother to check on this simple fact.

    1. I was just checking the docket for the Maverick Case @:

      http://archive.recapthelaw.org/dcd/141583/

      and discovered that I was one of the people dismissed without prejudice on 15 April 2011.

      http://www.archive.org/download/gov.uscourts.dcd.141583/gov.uscourts.dcd.141583.97.0.pdf

      However I just received DGW’s demand letter today and it’s dated 26 April 2011. They are trying to scam me into paying on a case they dismissed already?

      Is that legal?
      Should I notify the judge?
      Should I just leave well enough alone???

      What a bunch of scam artists!!!

  7. I just got a letter from Dunlap stating I need to give them 3,500 by may 26, 2011 or else i maybe added to the defendants to be served with a lawsuit. My attorney sent them a letter when they didnt know my identity but they ignored the offer and verizon gave up my info. Since im from PA, and its out of the DC area they would obviously would have to bring the case here. Not sure what to do, but I think ill take the chance and let them take the next step. Anyone else feeling the same way?

    1. They are not interested in re-filing or the cost of a trial against people who they are not sure can even pay up. This is all a money making mill.

      Why settle a lawsuit you are not even named in?

  8. I NEED HELP AND INSIGHTS AS TO HOW TO GO ABOUT DEALING WITH THIS Maverick CASE. DUNLAUP SAID I NEED TO PAY A COUPLE OF THOUSANDS OR ELSE… THEN A WEEK LATER, I RECEIVED A LETTER NAMING ME AS A PUTATIVE DEFENDANT IN THE CASE. SO IF THERE’S ANY INFORMATION/ADVICE THAT YOU CAN GIVE ME THAT WILL GET ME OFF THE HOOK, I’D REALLY APPRECIATE IT. THANKS

  9. Check this:

    http://www.archive.org/download/gov.uscourts.dcd.141583/gov.uscourts.dcd.141583.15.1.pdf

    This is the list of people that DGW dismissed from the Maverick Case without prejudice on 15 April 2011. That means that the case is dismissed in DC but they “MAY” refile in your home jurisdiction. They then sent out their demand letters saying “pay us or we MAY name you in a lawsuit”. While a very small number of suits have been refiled in other states, do you really think that DGW is going to refile and/or go to trial on ALL of those?? No way. IMO unless you live in the jurisdiction of the original filing I wouldn’t waste my $$ on attorneys on some bunch of scumsuckers threatening you to pay up or we MAY sue you. The odds are that you will never actually ever be summoned to a court on a P2P case like these. This is ALL about the demand letters and easy $$$…it’s never been about going to trial.

    1. On top of that, since there is no case currently active when you pay them money, there’s no present need or obligation for them to file a dismissal with prejudice, which means there’s no guarantee that they won’t take your money, and then sue you anyway.

      At that point, with no pending lawsuits, it’s little more than street mugging, but with a briefcase and a business suit.

  10. I received a letter back at the beginning of the year and retained a lawyer. I am part of case Voltage Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-5,000 (1:10-cv-00873-BAH). I am about to settle this matter and pay an amount agreed upon. I am an unemployed worker and I did not do this. This is very hard for me to pay. Upon inspection of my computer I found out I have an unprotected wireless router. My question is, Should I even pay the settlement now? This case seems to be dropped according to your statement. I live in Michigan. What should I do? Should I call Dunlapp, Grubb and Weaver to see if my case was dropped? When I punch my case number into their web site it states there is no such number now.

  11. I am in the same situation as anon being dismissed and later receiving settlement letter. Not sure what to do. Might be cheaper just to pay up if anybody ever go through lawyers and courts. Seems like that what USCG is hoping for.
    The other thing is that in my case they saying I downloaded The Clique (a.k.a. death Clique) but there is another movie The Clique by Warner which I had at one time.

  12. Just got another letter from my lawyer, they refused my settlement offer so we will see what happens next.

  13. I got a phone call from Patrick Collins lawer saying if I dont pay my name will go onto a list to be sued for copyright infridgment… i think its a scam since he refused to mail anything .. only email?? anyone else had this

    1. Patrick Collins, Inc. (and K-Beech, Inc.) are real plaintiffs suing in real copyright infringement cases. They employ no-name local attorneys to file cases on their behalf. If you e-mail me ([email protected]) or set up an appointment for us to chat (http://tungle.me/cashmanlawfirm), I can certainly answer your questions about them. -Rob

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