With the flick of a wrist and the power a pen, the West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-5,829 case is dead.
I don’t know whether I should be saying congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who are now dismissed from the case, whether I should be writing an obituary on what was one of the longest-lasting monster bittorrent cases, or whether I should be skeptical and cautious at such a simple and eloquent end to such a violent case.
This case had everything wrong with it. Improper joinder, improper jurisdiction, even the content it accused internet users of downloading was distasteful. “I don’t like ugly biker chicks, I’d never download their films,” a Doe Defendant once told me.
On top of everything wrong with it, this case had baggage, namely West Virginia’s West Coast Productions, Inc. lawsuits with Kenneth Ford at the helm, all of which went bust last year.
But it wasn’t jurisdiction or joinder which caused to downfall of this case; it was failing to name and serve defendants within the 120 day limits as dictated by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(m). Judge Kollar-Kotelly, realizing that the plaintiff attorneys were using the courts to extract settlement agreements, decided to implement and enforce this rule forcing the case to shut down.
The last stab to the case was a September 1st, 2011 deadline where the plaintiff attorneys were ordered to name and serve defendants, and to report to the court by the end of today who they have named and served.
I was sure that they would at least name the John Doe Defendants who lived in the District of Columbia, and they would in turn ask the court for more time. But instead, they named NOBODY. They merely packed up their bags, closed up shop, and dismissed the case.
What does this mean? Could it mean that the plaintiff attorneys do not have the resources, the time, the patience, or the energy to take clients to trial? Or, did West Coast Productions, Inc. say “enough is enough; we’ve made enough money in settlements — let’s close up shop.” It cannot be that easy.
Here is my take. Before they sue each and every one of the defendants in smaller groups in the correct courts — a tactic that Steele Hansmeier, PLLC and other plaintiff attorneys have caught onto — they had to kill the big bad monster of a case. After all, it would be bad to sue the same defendant in two cases at the same time for the same alleged act of infringement.
So for now, those of you who were defendants in this case, you are no longer defendants, and I congratulate you on your victory. I would whip out the champagne bottles and celebrate, but be very aware that there is one more West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Does case lurking in this same DC court. West Coast Productions, Inc. (1:11-cv-00055), our case’s little brother is still alive and well. While Judge Kollar-Kotelly has taken the sword to slay the extortion machine that was our West Coast Productions, Inc. case, so far, Magistrate Judge John Facciola has been merely pushing paper on the other West Coast Productions, Inc. case. Really, nothing of substance has been going on there.
What about the letters and the phone calls you all have been receiving? Should you ignore them? Probably not. For the most part, the plaintiff attorneys at Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC have your contact information, and they plan to use it. Expect multiple “scare” letters saying, “we plan to sue you unless you pay us $3,500 (or more) by XYZ date.” Then expect to get additional letters for higher amounts. As far as whether this is a bluff or not, it is best to be prudent and to watch where they are suing in order to determine where they have hired local counsel. For example, if you are watching the copyright cases on RFC Express (http://www.rfcexpress.com), and you see that one of Dunlap Grubb & Weaver’s cases — whether West Coast Productions, Maverick Entertainment Group, Call of the Wild, etc. etc. — has been filed in your home court, that should be a red flag that you might be sued yourself. Lawyering up (e.g., hiring an attorney) at this point if you have not already done so, or even proactively settling might be a wise option. However, if you see no lawsuits of theirs in your state, my opinion is that there is no need to feed their war chest with your settlement dollars.
I have attached the dismissal letter below for your viewing pleasure. Simple. Voilà![scribd id=64331514 key=key-215wj3misks3ksdu8ytl mode=list]
37 thoughts on “West Coast Productions, Inc. Case is DEAD.”
finally justice works for me this time
My congratulations to those Does who were dismissed, Would that I had been as lucky. WCP filed suit against me, apparently just before the 9/1/11 deadline. Completely innocent of the charge, but anxious about the expense and effort to defend myself. Hopefully, justice will smile on me.
Not a lawyer, but they first dismissed in west Virginia and now DC, doesn’t that mean that they can’t file a third time? Not sure how that applies if they did name you before the dismissal date, but just something that might help you
The dismissal specifically stated that all does were dismissed. This thus is the second voluntary dismissal for this specific film. I’m not a lawyer but do believe there is a provision that bars plaintiffs from filing a third time. I think it is called rule 41 (voluntary dismissal). You can google it. Maybe houstonlwy3r can help us with this question, or if u talk to someone please post the answer. Hope it helps
Cafubira11, you are correct in your statement, and a number of attorneys and I have already discussed this. You want to be looking at whether the first dismissal was for the same accused work as the second, etc., and off the top of my head, what you are referring to is Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”), Rule 41(a). If you were my client and you were sued again, this would be one of the first things we would chat about in more detail. -Rob
Thank you for keeping this blog. Could you take a look at this case please: Imperial Enterprises, Inc. v. Does 1-3,545 1:11-cv-00529-RBW
My pleasure. I have a number of clients in the Imperial Enterprises, Inc. case, and I would be happy to speak to you about it. You can set up an appointment for us to chat at http://www.cashmanlawfirm.com. -Rob
It is great to hear that all 5,829 Doe Defendants have had this case dropped against them.
But, I read JDoeinGA’s post that they were able to file against him/her before the September 1st deadline.
Can someone please direct me, if possible, to where I might find a list of of others who they were able to file against in this case. I’d like to make sure this is the last I hear from Case 1:11-cv-00057-CKK. Thanks.
If we received a demand letter which was postmarked after the September 8th dismissal date, are there any avenues one could use to call out lawyer abuse?
There is a great story on the West Coast Productions lawsuits written up on arstechnica.com (see here). Definitely an interesting read. -Rob
This case was dismissed on September the first, what if you were a “doe” in the case and you recieved a letter from the company listed telling you to pay, just as you stated and it was post marked September the 8th, would that letter be void or would you suggest a lawyer?
I would suggest a lawyer to 1) get them off your back (once they have notice you are represented by an attorney, they are no longer permitted to contact you), and 2) so that you do not inadvertently incriminate yourself (they are very quick when asking you questions), and 3) so that your lawyer can negotiate a settlement if you find that it becomes a good idea to settle (up front, I have settled a number of cases, but I am against settling unless it becomes in your best interests to settle).
DGW just filed on Sept 16th against another 1911 does for the same film? How can they file a third time, once in west Virginia, once in DC, now again in DC? What happened to the two filings limit regarding the same infringement case? For those interested the case number is 1:11-cv-01687-CKK. In the WV case, no one was named. In the first DC case, I think everyone was dismissed but saw a few west coast productions filings in Georgia. Doesn’t this violate FRCP rule 41(a)?
I think you’re ahead of the game. They cannot. Obviously I have not analyzed this new filing, but in short, they can sue, dismiss, then sue again. After the dismissal, there is no third strike. In the meantime, I think users such as you should make noise about this on the newsgroups, etc., so that authors on TorrentFreak and on ArsTechnica, TechDirt, etc. start picking up the stories. It is sadly through these means that the judges will likely learn about these issues.
I appreciate the swift means in your reply, I still have a question that is bugging me. If the case is dismissed, then all paper work that is sent afterwords is just a ploy correct. If the 5,829 are all dismissed would sending a letter threatening to sue if the 3,500 dollars is not paid be void? The sad thing is that i along with im sure hundreds others did not download this content, i guess that is the price to pay for having a wireless router? The sad thing is i had a notice of objection come from my service provider to object the claim of the download but when i had received the letter the deadline had already passed, would this have a factor as well?
On the contrary; they have three (3) years from the alleged date of infringement to sue you in your home state. As for your wireless router, on a personal note — I also have a wireless router but I have it with WPA-2 encryption (WEP can be cracked by almost anyone these days). That being said, we *DO* keep an open wireless guest access for anyone around me who wants to use the internet for free. We simply use a free DNS service (e.g., OpenDNS.com, which filters what people can access) and we have bittorrent blocked.
So if they have my real name for 1:11-cv-00529-rbw . This case is dismissed and I shouldn’t really have to worry unless they file in my home state? Thanks
First things first, your Imperial Enterprises case has *NOT* been dismissed, and in fact, they just granted yet another extension to December 20th, 2011. Once a dismissal is achieved, there *is* a strong worry that they can still file in your home state within the three-year statute of limitations. As you have read about, I have given you a website which you can use to *manage your risk* of being sued in your home state. If you see other lawsuits in your home state from this plaintiff (or their attorneys), then the risk of getting hit with a lawsuit is higher (especially if they have your contact information from your ISP). If they have not yet hired local counsel in your state, the risk of being sued is simply lower.
Wow, the judge must really be ignorant of technologies or do no know about other similar cases being dismissed after a “prolonged” extensions of extensions. This judge needs to read case files or maybe a course from ITT.
In short and off of the top of my head, look at FRCP Rule 41(a). In short, you can sue someone once, then dismiss. Then you can sue them again, then dismiss. There is no third strike allowed. -Rob
I will probably write more when I return to the office on 10/3. I am out for the remainder of the week. In short, look at FRCP Rule 41(a) [off the top of my head] — in short, you can sue someone once, then dismiss. Then you can sue them again, then dismiss. No third strike allowed. -Rob
In order to be dismissed from cv-00057 did I need to be one of your clients? or was the whole case closed?
That was actually a cute comment. I love the innocence of the question. In short, yes, the entire case was dismissed; not just the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients. -Rob
I was looking back at this, and saw that Bennett is *still* dismissing does individually on this case. I understand that the judge got frustrated with the item “languishing on the docket”, and gave deadlines and extensions up to 9/8/11 for US Copyright Group on behalf of Ken Ford to actually do something. On 9/8/11, USCG summarily dismissed all remaining does. I thought that the case would be dead as of that time.
But looking at the case history since then, there’s another 6 or 7 dismissals filed for specific Does through October & November. My take is that the US Copyright Group’s money machine still rolling along, taking extortion money even though the case is dead. What’s your take?
Isn’t it a very odd thing to dismiss *everybody*, then afterwards go through and name a few more specific Does to be dismissed?
Yes, it is strange, but what you describe appears to be *exactly* what they are doing. We knew they were still contacting defendants (even dismissed defendants), and a bunch of them are still settling out of fear of a follow-up lawsuit in their home states.
rob i just got a letter from time warner cable about civil action no 4:12 cv-0504. lol. well i got no money and no job…
Yep, I’m fully aware of it. It is still West Coast Productions, Inc., but they have hopped to a new attorney, and this time in my neck of the woods. This will be fun. 🙂
Marcelo, I just received the same thing that you related with the the same case and 349 others people received the same the letter I goggled it and we are totally 351 people, and same as you no job no money , Rob, WE NEED YOUR ADVISE, SO MANY THANKS
I also got a letter from TWC to release info april 23 West Coast Prod. civil action no 4:12 cv-0504 does 1-351. Was filled in Texas Southern District Court, Texas is my home state do you have any information about it.
I am very familiar with the case, and I even have some “juice” about the case and those behind it that I cannot yet write about here. I’m sorry for not writing about the case sooner — I know the ISP deadlines are coming up. I’m replying to inquiries about the case offline in each person’s e-mail box. I look forward to being of assistance.
Thank you soooo much for you prompt answer I have had very hard time since I received the letter from, no money no job is hard to deal and with this matter I feel DEAD, I will wait for your reply like you don’t have an idea, God Bless You, please send me your reply at my yahoo email. Again God Bless You, MARCELLO finally someone is on our side and with the rest of the 351 people with this case. My prays go with you Rob
I also got a letter from Douglas M McIntrye & Associates civil action no 4:12 cv-0504 does 1-351. It stated that my wife’s ip address through TWC Roadrunner was used in the middle of the day. The letter wants me to pay 3400.00…what kinda scheme is this? I recieved nothing from Time Warner and nothing in email as stated in their letter. This is just absured! Can Anyone help me out? They say I have till the 29th of Jun 2012 to respond. Thanks in advance!
Any news about case does 1-351 filled in Texas
Yes. West Coast Productions, Inc. has jumped ship from Kenneth Ford’s Adult Copyright Company (he is now in jail, but they are still answering their phones and have disavowed him and their association with him) and their attorneys at Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC, and they have hired new attorneys such as Doug McIntyre here in Texas who was filing cases for Prenda Law Inc., and they have given McIntyre full authority to handle the cases they assign to him however he would like (send letters, call, scare, name defendants, etc.). There are other local attorneys they have hired (e.g., in Louisiana), and they have similar deals with them as well. Thus, instead of being one large monster of a case, they are suing new John Doe Defendants by dipping their toes into various jurisdictions and hiring attorneys who they believe can bring in the settlements for them. Now before you go forward and start getting scared and settling your case with the various local attorneys, STOP and talk to me (or another attorney like me who actually knows these plaintiff attorneys and what they are capable of). Remember, there is the LAW of guilty and not guilty, and then there is the PROCEDURE of suing someone, and your plaintiff attorney may or may not be ABLE to go after everyone. I can certainly help you answer that question because it is a matter of RISK, not law.
Any new info on these cases, 1-351
Also looks like they filed a new case in Missouri. Case number 6:12-cv-01748-FRB, eastern district. Has anyone heard anything about his one.
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