Northern District of Illinois Judge Steeles The Life From A Second Torrent Case

[4/13/2011 UPDATE: I have not had time to update this article, but the same day as the Millennium TGA, Inc. v. Does 1-800 case was dismissed, that same judge ALSO dismissed the Lightspeed Media Corp. v. Does 1-1000 case for the same reasons. That would make 3.]

Congratulations to our clients who were recently severed and dismissed in the Millennium TGA, Inc. v. Does 1-800 case (US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; Case# 1:10-cv-05603). Many of you have been defendants in this case since it began last September.

More importantly, even more of you have spoken to me about your case in the last few weeks since prior to Judge Manning’s dismissal of the case, the plaintiff attorneys appear to have stepped up their attempts to secure and acquire the contact information for the various John Doe defendants through their attempts to subpoena the ISPs for the various Doe subscribers.

In short, the Judge’s reason for dismissing the was because Millennium TGA has failed to show that the copyright infringement claims “arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences.” In other words, the lists of allegedly infringing IP addresses spread weeks if not months apart were not considered by the judge to be “the same transaction or occurrence” in the commission of the crime.

The judge further went on to comment that “merely committing the same type of violation in the same way does not link defendants together for purposes of joinder,” and ruled that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 20(a)(2)(A) was not satisfied.

The interesting thing about this case is that contrary to other cases, the judge explicitly stated that she is dismissing the case because “potential defendants [are] located all over the country with no discernible ties to this district” (emphasis added). This is the ‘third rail’ “no jurisdiction” (Dear Court, I was sued in Illinois, I live in New Jersey) argument judges have been afraid to concede in previous dismissals.

In addition, contrary to the DC judge in the Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver cases who denied the validity of geolocation tools to ascertain the likely location of potential John Doe Defendants, this judge acknowledged the validity of these tools and used them to conclude that “many (if not all) of the defendants” do not reside in the state of Illinois.

These are two very welcome acknowledgements by the judge neatly wrapped up in an Northern Illinois case dismissal.

Last, but not least, I wanted to point out that this is the second case that has been outright dismissed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and as we discussed previously, I have no doubt that this will continue to have a ripple effect across the remaining cases in that district.

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