Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients had notice that the MCGIP v. Does 1-316 case was about to crack.

We at the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC hereby congratulate our clients who have been dismissed from the MCGIP, LLC v. Does 1-316 (1:10-cv-06677) case in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. We can actually thank John Steele for this dismissal, as he is the one who dismissed the defendants on his own, apparently without any coercion from the judge.

While this dismissal might be news for most, our clients received a heads up e-mail from our firm on June 22nd, 2011 that the MCGIP case was likely going to crack. Read on if you are interested in an interesting connect-the-dots story…

On June 14th, John Steele of Steele Hansmeier, PLLC sent out a huge number of “scare” letters demanding settlement payments. The timing seemed odd to me, especially since the judge in the MCGIP case wrote an order siding with John Steele on a whole number of issues just a few days before his letters were sent out (June 9th).

In Judge Kendall’s June 9th order, she relied heavily on the Donkeyball Movie, LLC v. Does 1-171 case (then pending in DC). In addition, in supporting Steele, she cited in a number of places to the Call of the Wild Movie, LLC v. Does 1-1062 (“COTW”) case (also pending at the time in DC).

Coincidentally, on June 14th — the same day Steele drafted and sent these scare letters — the Donkeyball case was dismissed in its entirety, and the COTW case (again, almost 1,000 defendants large) had all but 14 defendants dismissed.

Immediately seeing this connection between the dismissals in the DC cases and the judge’s reliance on those now dismissed cases, we at the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC sent a notice to our clients giving them the heads up that the DC case support Judge Kendall relied upon just fell apart.

Now, less than a month later, (for most defendants, at least) the case is over. The dismissal was by Steele himself rather than the court which means that he can still file against defendants in their home states. That being said, for now, please enjoy your victory.

I have pasted the dismissal letter dismissing all defendants, along with the Exhibit A identifying which of the Doe defendants are still under threat of being named in this lawsuit.

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…and Exhibit A identifying those defendants who still can be named and sued in this case.

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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.

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