Tru Filth bittorrent lawsuit trashed for out-of-state defendants.

As we wrote just four days ago, Ira Siegel’s On the Cheap, LLC dba Tru Filth, LLC v. Does 1-5011 case (Case No. 3:10-cv-04472-BZ) in the US District Court for the Northern District of California has been ripped apart.  So, congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who have been severed and dismissed from the case!

Who is left in this case?  John Doe Defendants who live in the Northern District of California.  All others have been dismissed.  Now to everyone’s surprise, the judge wrote nothing about Siegel’s non-compliance with his demand to see how much his client has made on eliciting settlement payments from John Doe Defendants.  Instead, he focused on the bland arguments of jurisdiction and joinder, essentially telling Ira Siegel that he cannot sue out-of-state defendants in his court if they have not availed themselves to the jurisdiction of the California court.

One thing that I found interesting — and this might be quite boring to everyone else — Judge Zimmerman took the personal jurisdiction argument one step further than I have ever seen in any of these cases when he essentially said, “do not sue Californians WHO DO NOT LIVE IN MY DISTRICT in my district!”.  In his order, the judge told Siegel that he could have spent just a few more dollars to file THREE additional lawsuits in each of California’s federal courts — so that each of the Californian Does were sued in their home district rather than forcing them to defend a lawsuit potentially several hours away.  This delineates a new rule when suing John Doe defendants in a California court — namely that defendants need to be sued not only in a court which has personal jurisdiction over each of the defendants, but that  defendants need to be sued in the PROPER DISTRICT in which they live so that they will not be hauled into a court several hours away.  Here, the judge referred to “principals of fundamental fairness,” a concept each of us learned in law school.

Then the judge moved on to practical humor.  Simply put, how in the world would 5,000 defendants be able to show up for a hearing, (e.g., a FRCP 26(f) pretrial conference or a FRCP 16(b) case management conference) when the largest room in the courthouse only holds 200 people?!?

Last, but not least, the judge finally acknowledged (at the bottom of p.8) that when a $19.95 adult film is produced not for commercial gain, but for purposes of generating litigation and settlements, it no longer falls under the Constitutional protections of “useful arts,” but it amounts to merely a massive collection scheme.  This was never the intent of the copyright laws (…and thus…?).  I’ll leave it to you to finish the thought.

I have attached a copy of the dismissal letter below for your viewing pleasure. To those of you who have been dismissed who are not our clients, please allow me to congratulate you on your victory.

[scribd id=64117780 key=key-lgycf4ribjnhtkof19g mode=list]

12 thoughts on “Tru Filth bittorrent lawsuit trashed for out-of-state defendants.”

  1. This is huge. The entire ruling is amazing, not a single sentence is boring. Must read for everyone who has even slightest interest in these mass extortion-like cases (especially for the trolls!). I don’t believe (though it is not impossible) that judge Zimmerman read my blog, but this is the first time a judge comments on the foundation of the problem, and does it along the lines I’ve been repeating over and over again.

  2. This suit was also filed under the same case number in the Northern District of Texas, which is where my ISP’s (Verizon) legal office, is located (although I am not).

    I received notice on August 31 that Verizon would disclose my info in 30 days unless a motion to quash was filed.

    Does Judge Zimmerman’s order sever the Does in all identical cases in all venues? Does it make the Subpoena to disclose identity moot?

  3. We should probably chat. I’m guessing you have confused 1) the location of your case (congratulations on your dismissal), and 2) the subpoena that was given to your ISP (ISPs are served in the state in which they have their principal places of business). Look at your paperwork, I’m guessing on there you’ll see documentation which refers back to the case in Cali which for the most part has been dismissed. If your ISP has not yet released your information, you should contact me because there are probably a few steps I can help you with to make sure your information does not [still] inadvertently fall into the hands of your plaintiff attorney.

    • In the rulings the judge does not tell plaintiffs to notify isp’s that subpoena’s are quashed and to notify the isp’s as such. Also tells plaintiffs to notify anyone he already has names for, or anyone’s name plaintiff obtains in the future, that they have been released. Usually the the judge would include this in their orders. Does this mean the outstanding subpoena’s are still valid? If so this is open ended, meaning that plaintiff can keep receiving names / addresses so implying they can keep harassing john / Jane defendants. I agree he was direct, falling barely short off saying extortion. Is this what the judge intends on taking care of on 09/09/ 2011 (document 60 hearing)? Will that hearing only affect individuals with motions to quash already on file? Many deadlines are 9/11/2011. If everyone except 17 was severed how can this be right that plaintiff can still get does identity? Is it possible that subpoena’s can still be allowed to obtain personal information of individuals no longer being sued?

  4. Yes, you are correct, what Verizon sent me was a copy of the subpoena served them in the Northern District of Texas. It references the filing in California.

    Verizon’s cover letter to me is dated August 31 and states that I have 30 days to file a motion to quash or vacate the subpoena and notify Verizon that I have done so.

    They provide a mailing address and fax number for their legal compliance office. My plan is to fax them a copy of the judge’s September 6 order.

    I haven’t read every filing, so I don’t know the exact reason for the delay in Verizon’s notice (the original deadline for Verizon to comply was April 26), but taking the notice at face value, they have not yet released my info. Since some Does did receive direct demand letters, I can only assume that some ISPs did release info.

    About 5 years ago, I was a Doe in a real fishing expedition of a suit involving postings on a Yahoo message board; the actual target Doe was successful in quashing that subpoena. So I knew enough not to panic when I got the notice from Verizon.

    Thanks for your commentary on the case, it made my weekend a little easier.

  5. I agree with your approach. Your ISP should know that the case was dismissed or else they might accidentally comply with the now invalid subpoena. I have seen this happen before. If you need any help taking care of this (you should also probably include a copy of the docket), you know where to reach me.


    • Obviously I have not seen your paperwork, but I would assume the answer is yes. Congratulations on your dismissal. If Verizon has not yet released your information, you might want to talk to me to make sure they don’t accidentally do so. -Rob

      • Thanks for offering information to folks here. I think the next question folks might have is IF they received one of the subpoena letters, the 30 day period for response had ended and the [ISP] responded with personal information and the plaintiff has already sent a demand letter, should the case referenced still be treated as dismissed?

        And therefore should the receiver respond that they know the case has been dismissed or just not respond at all?

  6. Siegel dismissed 20 or so DOES from On The Cheap last week, I assume they settled. In total he dismissed close to 100 DOES from various cases last week.


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