Strike 3 Holdings LLC has been on a tear, filing lawsuits across the US. This time, when they file lawsuits against unknown “John Doe” Defendants in the Federal Courts, do they already know the identities of each of these defendants?
I wrote a “one-year later” update to this article in January, 2022, “Strike 3 Holdings LLC state-based cases quietly returned to Federal Courts in 2021.”
It was only a matter of time before Strike 3 Holdings sued Miami-Dade defendants in the Federal Courts.
I have been saying for months that Strike 3 Holdings, LLC would begin suing the thousands of accused defendants in the federal courts that they sorted through in their Miami-Dade, Florida “Bill of Discovery” lawsuits.
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All of 2020, Strike 3 Holdings, LLC has been using Florida’s “Bill of Discovery” to force ISPs to uncover the identities of THOUSANDS of defendants. However, not one defendant was sued in the Miami-Dade, Florida County court for the copyright infringement they were accused of.
Why must Strike 3 Holdings file lawsuits against thousands of former Miami-Dade defendants in the Federal Courts? Couldn’t they sue them in the Miami-Dade, FL County Court?
A bit of law here for those that are new to the topic:
ANSWER #1) PERSONAL JURISDICTION. A court may not hear a lawsuit against a defendant when that court does not have power or control over that defendant. They must have jurisdiction over that defendant, and this is accomplished most frequently by the defendant living in the state where the lawsuit is filed.
ANSWER #2) SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION as it applies to copyright cases. Copyright infringement cases may only be brought in FEDERAL COURTS.
Strike 3 Holdings CANNOT sue an accused defendant for copyright infringement in a STATE OR COUNTY court (Miami-Dade is a County Court, not a Federal Court). Copyright infringement lawsuits can only be brought in a FEDERAL court.
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Which federal court? They must sue the defendant in the U.S. District Court for the District [state] in which HE LIVES.
Thousands of defendants were implicated in the Miami-Dade County, Florida Court, but most of them DID NOT LIVE IN FLORIDA. Thus, the Florida courts likely had NO jurisdiction over any of the out-of-state defendants.
EVENTUALLY, Strike 3 Holdings would sue the defendants in FEDERAL COURTS.
I was sure that these THOUSANDS of Strike 3 Miami-Dade defendants would eventually be sued in the federal courts.
For this reason, I went back to August, 2020 (~6 months) to confirm whether they have started suing defendants in federal courts again, and the answer was a big “uh huh.”
*UPDATED* NUMBER OF STRIKE 3 HOLDINGS LAWSUITS FILED IN FEDERAL COURTS EACH MONTH.
As far as I can glean from the records of which cases were filed when and where, this is what I have come up with:
Number of Lawsuits filed as of April 30, 2021 (04-2021): 88 New Cases (and counting).
Number of Lawsuits filed in March, 2021 (03-2021): 68 New Cases.
Number of Lawsuits filed in February, 2021 (02-2021): 77 New Cases.
Number of Lawsuits filed in January, 2021 (01-2021): 132 New Cases.
Number of Lawsuits filed in December, 2020 (12-2020): 115 New Cases.
Number of Lawsuits filed in November, 2020 (11-2020): 85 New Cases.
Number of Lawsuits filed in October, 2020 (10-2020): 138 New Cases.
Number of Lawsuits filed in September, 2020 (09-2020): 114 New Cases.
Number of Lawsuits filed in August, 2020 (08-2020): 114 New Cases.
Total Number of New Strike 3 Holdings lawsuits filed in Federal Courts across the US in the last six months: 565 New Cases.
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Why are all of the Federal Court Strike 3 Cases against “JOHN DOE” defendants?
In my gleaning, I found it interesting that all of the Federal Court lawsuits were filed against JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS. This was strange to me, because in all likelihood, we knew that Strike 3 already obtained the accused internet user’s name and address through the Miami-Dade Bill of Discovery lawsuits. So why are they still suing them as John Does?
A “JOHN DOE” Defendant is merely a PLACEHOLDER for the real Defendant.
A plaintiff sues a John Doe defendant when the identity of the defendant is still unknown. The John Doe is merely a placeholder, only to be replaced by the actual defendant’s name when the plaintiff attorney amends the complaint and “names and serves” a defendant.
QUESTION: Why sue accused defendants as JOHN DOE placeholders when they already know the ISP subscriber’s identity from the Miami-Dade lawsuits?
If Strike 3 Holdings already learned the identity of each of these accused John Doe Defendants when they were implicated as defendants in the former Strike 3 Miami-Dade lawsuits in the Florida county court, then WHY would they suggest* to the federal courts that they do not know the identity of the defendant when they sue them as a John Doe?
* I used the term “suggest” to avoid an implication that they were outright lying to the federal courts. At the bottom of this article, I explain 1) why them suing as John Doe Defendants may be appropriate (maybe they did not do research as to who actually did the download), and 2) that it is actually better for a defendant to be sued as a John Doe before he is forced into litigation to answer the claims against him (e.g., so that he can file a protective order to protect his identity, etc.).
ANSWER: It is more convenient to sue all of the defendants as JOHN DOE placeholders rather than litigating against each defendant.
CONVENIENCE. If Strike 3 Holdings sued each of these 694 defendant using their real names (e.g., Strike 3 Holdings, LLC v. Daniel TrueName), they would effectively have 694 cases running in the “litigation” stage concurrently.
This means that they would have to pay process servers to serve defendants at their 694 different locations across the US.
Each of the defendants would have to file an answer with the court within 21 days or face default, and Strike 3 would want to file responses to those answers.
Then, Strike 3 Holdings LLC would have 694 separate case management hearings, where each of their attorneys across the US (usually one Strike 3 Holdings attorney covering 1-3 states or territories) would need to show up in federal courtrooms across the US setting deadlines for each of their lawsuits to come up with the evidence.
Then, they would need to arrange, complete, and respond to and participate in depositions and digital forensic searches for each of these defendants… AT THE SAME TIME.
PRETENDING not to know the identities of the John Doe defendants is part of their SCHEME.
Can you imagine Strike 3 Holdings, LLC trying to litigate 694 lawsuits at the same time?
If Strike 3 Holdings, LLC pretends NOT to know the identities of each of the defendants (while they already do from the Miami-Dade Bill of Discovery lawsuits), they receive MANY EXTRA MONTHS to solicit settlements from the accused defendants before they are required to name and serve the accused defendants.
Whether their lawyers actually sat in a room and planned this out, or whether this was an unexpected consequence [of them 1) suing first in the Miami-Dade County Court to expose the identities of the ISP account holders, and then 2) suing the accused defendants in the federal courts to actually file copyright infringement lawsuits against those same defendants], you must admit that this was a genius plan as far as strategizing how to “game” the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to maximize their ability to “solicit” settlements from each and every accused defendant.
Here is how the scheme would play out:
SCHEME ELEMENT #1: PRETEND to the Federal Courts that you do not know the identity of the JOHN DOE defendants (when they secretly do).
Instead of suing a defendant by his name (and starting the litigation process against the defendant), an easier solution for Strike 3 Holdings, LLC is for them to to “pretend” to the Federal Court that they do not know who you are. They sue you as a “John Doe,” or a “John Doe subscriber assigned IP address XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX,” and ask the court to authorize them to send a subpoena to the internet service provider (ISP) and force them to [again] share the identity of the ISP account subscriber who was assigned a particular IP address at a particular date and time. Then, they sit back and comfortably wait for the settlement requests to roll in.
The judges [still oblivious of the Miami-Dade cases] approve their request to have the subpoenas sent to the ISPs. Each ISP is instructed by court order to hand over the identities of the ISP account holders (even though Strike 3 Holdings, LLC “secretly” already knows who they are).
SCHEME ELEMENT #2: SETTLE CASES for weeks or months while the ISPs slowly comply with their subpoena requests.
Strike 3 Holdings, LLC then waits weeks or months for the ISPs to comply. During this time, they wait for all the panicked defendants [who were former Miami-Dade lawsuit defendants] to panic and call them to arrange a settlement. All of this time, the accused defendants are “John Doe” defendants, and Strike 3 accomplished this without naming and serving a SINGLE defendant. Genius.
The plaintiff attorneys in this mass bittorrent lawsuit scheme then settle as many cases as they can before the 90-day deadline for them to name and serve the defendant expires (according to recent FRCP procedural law changes, plaintiffs now have only 90 days before they need to amend the complaint and sue the actual downloader in the place of the John Doe placeholder).
SCHEME ELEMENT #3: RELY ON THE ISPs BEING SLOW to respond to the subpoenas.
The ISPs are notoriously slow in producing the identities of their subscribers. No doubt Strike 3 Holdings is aware of this. In fact, they could be relying on this to give them extra time — sometimes weeks or months — to solicit a settlement from each John Doe defendant.
SCHEME ELEMENT #4: BLAME THE ISPs for not complying with the subpoena in time, and asking the court for an EXTENSION OF TIME.
If the ISP does not timely share the identities of each of the subpoena requests (as they often do not through no fault of their own), the plaintiff attorney gets close to the 90-day deadline without knowing who is the ISP account holder behind the accused IP address. Strike 3 Holdings is thus unable to name and serve the defendant, as a result, they ask the court for an additional 90 days, blaming the ISP for not producing the identities of the account holders in time.
“Judge, we cannot do our due diligence in investigating whether this John Doe Defendant is the one who downloaded my client’s movies because the ISP has not yet told us WHO this defendant is!”– Plaintiff Attorney
THE DIRTY SECRET: STRIKE 3 KNOWS ALL ALONG THE REAL IDENTITY OF THE JOHN DOE DEFENDANT.
The dirty secret is that ALL ALONG, Strike 3 Holdings likely already knows the identity of each of the defendants [from the Miami-Dade cases], and they are already probably in communication with them trying to get them to settle the claims against them for as much as possible. From a “federal rules” procedural perspective, it’s the perfect scheme.
Thus, if you were once a defendant in the Miami-Dade lawsuits, and now you are an accused defendant in the federal court in the state in which you reside, now you understand how and why you appear to have been “sued twice,” (first in the Miami-Dade, Florida County Court, and second, in the federal court in the state in which you live).
Is this scheme deceptive or evil?
My opinion? Really, no. Even if Strike 3 Holdings LLC obtained the identity of the ISP account holder in the Miami-Dade lawsuit, technically, the ISP account holder often is not the actual downloader who downloaded Strike 3 Holdings’ copyrighted videos.
ANSWER #1: NO. Strike 3 might not yet have any idea who the defendant should be.
Often the account holder is a parent, or, a wife, or a landlord, and the one who did the unlawful downloading is not the same person who pays the internet bill. It is also possible with the huge number of defendants implicated in the Miami-Dade Strike 3 cases, Strike 3 might not have even gotten to many or even most of the accused defendants.
So they might not even know whether the ISP account holder is the one they would like to sue.
ANSWER #2: NO. An accused defendant would likely prefer to be sued as a “John Doe” placeholder rather than be “named and served” at the outset.
Even from the point of view of the accused defendant, a defendant who is “named and served” is thrown head-first into costly litigation.
Being sued as an “anonymous” John Doe Defendant allows that defendant to have time to retain an attorney, learn about the lawsuits, and decide on what options they would like to take in how to respond to or approach the accusations against them.
As a John Doe, they can file a motion to quash the subpoena (if they do not live in the state in which they were sued), or they can have an attorney contact the plaintiff for them and discuss settlement options. If they did not do the downloading, a defendant could make use of the valuable John Doe phase (and the 90 days they usually get before they are actually named and served) to develop a legal strategy to fight the claims against them.
So in my opinion, no, there is nothing evil or malicious about being sued as a John Doe. I simply find it silly that procedurally, suing defendants in federal court as John Does (while they already know who they are) is a smart way to steal time by making use of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the inherent slowness of the process.
List of Recent Strike 3 Holdings Federal Court Filings by State
Here is a list of Strike 3 Holdings filings in the Federal Courts for each state in which they have recently sued defendants:
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT STRIKE 3 HOLDINGS, LLC: Again, if you have been implicated as a John Doe defendant in a Strike 3 Holdings, LLC lawsuit, 1. and 2. (below) are the TWO (2) main articles you should read immediately:
- “ISP Subpoena Notification Received – WALKTHROUGH.”
- “Strike 3 Holdings, LLC — JUST THE FACTS.”
- “Everything You Need To Know in One Page About Your Strike 3 Holdings Lawsuit [FAQ]”
- “In-Depth Strike 3 Holdings. Their Lawsuits, Their Strategies, and Their Settlements”
FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT WITH AN ATTORNEY: To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about your Strike 3 Holdings, LLC lawsuit, click here. Lastly, please feel free to e-mail me at info[at] cashmanlawfirm.com, or call 713-364-3476 to speak to me now about your case (I do prefer you read the articles first), or to get your questions answered.
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