Why California Malibu Media Case Consolidations are Bad.

malibu-media-case-consolidations

UPDATED 2020 SUMMARY: Case consolidations (until this post) happened when a federal judge lumped together different cases which all suffered from the same flaws, e.g., improper jurisdiction, improper joinder, etc. and they dismissed them all in one order. This was a good thing! However, when a troll-friendly judge consolidated a plaintiff attorneys case to keep the cases alive — to manage the dockets in order to avoid inconsistent rulings — while these types of case consolidations were good for the court (and for justice), it was a bad thing for the defendants accused in those copyright infringement cases.

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Gamopy / Pixabay

This post is not going to be one of your favorites, because not all my posts are going to similar to my “Malibu Media Goes Down in Flames” article (or the many other positive ones I have written to date).

In short, when a judge consolidates a copyright troll’s cases, those case consolidations are usually a good thing. In the “olden days” (meaning, two years ago), lawsuits used to have literally THOUSANDS of John Doe Defendants in each case. The problem was that when those monster cases would fall, they would make a huge thump sound and thousands of defendants would go free with one judge’s order.

As we predicted many months ago, the newer lawsuits would be smaller with fewer John Doe Defendants in each case. That way, if a “Malibu Media, LLC v. Does 1-10” case went bust, there would be twenty other cases still standing. Plaintiff attorneys quickly figured this out and started to sue just a few defendants in each lawsuit.

Personal Jurisdiction (“Improper Location of Lawsuit”)

Similarly, in the older cases, plaintiffs would clump together defendants from all over the country and they would sue them in the WRONG STATE.

Obviously the rule the copyright trolls overlooked at the time is that “in order to sue a defendant, you need to sue a defendant where the DEFENDANT resides,” not in the court which is closest to the plaintiff attorney’s Chicago office. This was the issue of PERSONAL JURISDICTION (or more accurately, “improper jurisdiction”), where the plaintiffs would sue defendants in the wrong courts.

However, the end result of suing people from across the US in one federal court is usually are case consolidations by the judges (resulting in a follow-up order dismissing the cases).

However, more and more, we see with the Malibu Media, LLC bittorrent cases and the copyright infringement cases from other plaintiff attorneys (e.g., Jason Kotzker, Mike Meier, etc.), they are purposefully suing defendants in the CORRECT STATES so jurisdiction in most cases IS proper.

Thus, by suing defendants where they live, Malibu Media has successfully avoided case consolidations for improper jurisdiction.

Joinder (“Suing the Wrong Defendants Together”)

In mostly every bittorrent case, there is still the issue of JOINDER which we have written about too many times to list. In short, in order to properly join together MULTIPLE DEFENDANTS in the same lawsuits, those defendants needed to have done the SAME CRIME AT THE SAME TIME. The actual legal terminology is the “same transaction or occurrence.”

In the bittorrent world, that essentially means that the bittorrent users (now John Doe defendants) needed to have taken part in downloading and uploading copyrighted Malibu Media’s movies in the same bittorrent SWARM.

Case consolidations have killed large sets of copyright infringement lawsuits where each of a plaintiff attorney’s cases are plagued with the same inherent flaws: they sue groups of John Doe Defendants for activities they participated in at unrelated dates and times.

While this argument of improper joinder does not become relevant until a defendant is “named” as a defendant (meaning, served with paperwork which means they are no longer a John Doe, but their real name has been listed in an “amended complaint” in the case’s docket), it is still a problem with pretty much EVERY bittorrent case today (with exception of the various lawsuits by Kevin Harrison and Paul Lesko in his 4Twenty lawsuits where they sometimes sue the swarm rather than specific John Doe Defendants). However, it is not relevant to this discussion of case consolidations, but it was still worth noting.

The Problem With The Smaller “John Doe” Lawsuits – Different CASE LAW in the same court.

The problem many copyright trolls are now facing in the courts is that NOW THAT THEY HAVE CHANGED THEIR LAWSUITS TO SUE SMALLER NUMBERS OF DEFENDANTS, they usually “forget” to inform the court of RELATED LAWSUITS that they have also filed against other bittorrent users (this violates a number of federal courts’ local rules which could jeopardize their many cases).

Different Judges Give Inconsistent Rulings

The result of the plaintiff attorneys not telling the courts of the HUGE NUMBER OF LAWSUITS IN EACH COURT (you can look them up on http://www.rfcexpress.com just to see a few examples) is that each case gets assigned to a different judge (copyright trolls love this and actually rely on this when forum shopping), and each judge interprets the law as he understands it.

In short, not linking the case together results in some bittorrent cases being dismissed by some judges in one court, and in some bittorrent cases (against other John Doe Defendants) being allowed to proceed by other judges in that same court. In short, not informing the court of related lawsuits results in INCONSISTENT RULINGS by different judges in the same district court.

[This is called a SPLIT in the court’s decisions (even though the term “split” usually indicates judges from one jurisdiction (e.g., Southern District of New York) ruling one way, and judges from another jurisdiction (e.g., Central District of California) ruling another way.]

Case Consolidations Give Consistent Rulings

Case consolidations are the easiest way to avoid inconsistent rulings.

The wonderful result we have seen from the torrent of lawsuits that have flooded the dockets of many federal courts across the U.S. is that judges have begun to CONSOLIDATE CASES and give one ruling that affects ALL OF THEM. In other words, no more inconsistent rulings.

As exciting as the idea of case consolidations might be, for a while, we thought that when a judge consolidates cases, it is for the purpose of shutting them all down together (“the bigger they are, the harder they fall”). Such case consolidations have happened to a few attorneys’ cases already, and CASE CONSOLIDATIONS USED TO MEAN THE DEATH OF ALL THAT PLAINTIFF ATTORNEYS’ CASES. However, this is no longer the case with today’s case consolidations.

As we learned in the Southern District of New York when Judge Forrest clumped together all of Mike Meier’s bittorrent cases, we thought these case consolidations were the end of Mike Meier’s lawsuits once and for all. WRONG. Now, months later, we understand now that Judge Forrest consolidated the cases merely so that she can MANAGE THEM TO AVOID INCONSISTENT RULINGS. To our shock and horror, Judge Forrest had no interest in killing Meier’s cases.

Now comes Leemore Kushner‘s new bittorrent cases in the Central District of California, all from the Malibu Media, LLC (a.k.a. the “X-Art.com”) plaintiff. Following the copyright troll strategies of Jason Kotzker, Chris Fiore, Adam Silverstein, and Mike Meier, Leemore Kushner (see http://www.kushnerlawgroup.com [great website, by the way; almost as good as Kevin Harrison’s website]) filed a whole bunch of cases in the California Central District Court. However, she failed to tell the court that all of her cases were all related (oops).

As soon as Judge Klausner took over the case, he noticed Malibu Media, LLC’s other cases, most of them filed by Leemore Kushner (and three by Adam Silverstein):

CASES FILED BY LEEMORE KUSHNER OF KUSHNER LAW GROUP IN THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 8:12-cv-00647)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 8:12-cv-00649)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 8:12-cv-00650)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 8:12-cv-00651)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 8:12-cv-00652)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03614)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03615)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03617)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03619)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03620)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03621)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03622)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-03623)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04649)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04650)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-04651)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04652)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-04653)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04654)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04656)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-04657)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-04658)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04660)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04661)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-04662)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-05592)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-05593)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-05594)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-05595), and

CASES FILED BY ADAM M. SILVERSTEIN OF CAVALLUZZI & CALLALLUZZI IN THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does (Case No. 2:12-cv-01642)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01647)
Malibu Media LLC v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01675)

Seeing all of these cases, no doubt the issues of copyright trolling, extortion, clogging up the court’s docket, and whether Kushner actually intends to take these defendants to trial or not was on his mind… or was it? I’m not so sure. Judge Klausner ordererd case consolidations of Kushner’s cases with an ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE why these cases should not be dismissed for… LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION?? [different topic, their jurisdiction was fine. Keep reading.]

In short, here are a large number of cases, and if Judge Klausner was against these copyright trolling / extortion-based lawsuits, he would have asked Leemore Kushner to explain to the court why these cases should not be dismissed for any of the other INHERENT FLAWS in these bittorrent cases, but NOT PERSONAL JURISDICTION.

Malibu Media, LLC just solved the Personal Jurisdiction problem.

The reason I say this is because IF THERE IS ONE THING MALIBU MEDIA, LLC GOT RIGHT IN THEIR LAWSUITS, IT IS PERSONAL JURISDICTION. You could be damn sure that is Leemore Kushner sued someone in California, then THEY LIVE IN CALIFORNIA. If Jason Kotzker sued someone in Colorado, then THEY LIVE IN COLORADO. The plaintiff attorneys have too much common sense from the mistakes of the past two years to sue people in the wrong jurisdiction.

In summary: I am not happy about the case consolidations.

For this reason, I am sad to say that I am not jumping up and down for joy about the fact that all these case consolidations took place, because I do not think they are going bust just yet. Anyone that speaks to me knows that I believe these cases have some really bad flaws which, if taken to trial, would cause Malibu Media, LLC to LOSE EVERY TIME.

However, I suspect Malibu Media knows this as well which is why the game for them is to 1) sue John Doe Defendants, 2) settle as many as they can, 3) “name” those who do not settle, 4) settle those who are named for a higher amount, 5) go for a default judgement ($750 + ~$2K attorney fees, or $30K + attorney fees, but I’ve never seen a $150K default judgement), or dismiss those who are named, 6) re-file individually against those who did not settle, 7) settle with higher stakes, and 8) rinse and repeat.

In short, I’m not so optimistic about the Malibu Media case consolidations, and neither should you be. Until we see the words “improper joinder,” “scheme,” or “extortion” come out of this judge’s mouth when discussing case consolidations, it looks to me as if we have a troll-friendly judge who just wants to manage these cases.

You can see his order here.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MALIBU MEDIA, LLC:
 Click here for more general information about Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits, their tactics, and their strategies.

New Malibu Media, LLC Cases – Friend or Foe? Foe.

malibu-media-case-consolidations

This is concerning. As we discussed in our New “Copyright Troll” on the Block article earlier this month, Malibu Media, LLC has continued to add to their number of lawsuits filed up and down the U.S.  Since our last posting, the following new Malibu Media, LLC cases have been added to an already long list.

New York Eastern District Court – Jason Aaron Kotzker of the Kotzker Law Group
(I guess he can be both in Colorado AND in New York at the same time; perhaps he has a transporter in the law office in his Colorado basement that we don’t yet know about.)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-10 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01146)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-26 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01147)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-20 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01148)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-30 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01149)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-11 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01150)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-13 (Case No. 2:12-cv-01156)

Malibu Media, LLC has developed a new “method” of determining how to calculate settlement amounts that has given them a way of justifying settlements that could be in the $7,500 range, or even in the $13,500 range.

Instead of charging a certain settlement amount per case as many plaintiffs have done in the past, Malibu Media, LLC is charging per video allegedly downloaded. Obviously I am simplifying, as there are a number of other factors to weigh in their “secret sauce” (e.g., number of infringements, whether it was only one time a user downloaded a title, or whether infringement is ongoing) in order for them to increase your settlement amount.

The problem with these new Malibu Media, LLC cases is that they allege not one file downloaded at a time, but WEBSITE RIPS — in other words, a huge multi-Gigabyte (e.g., 2.3GB) download containing a large number of their videos. Defendants in these new Malibu Media, LLC cases will not be casual pornography downloaders or people who like to “click on stuff,” but rather, their John Doe Defendants will be serious collectors of pornography.

To make matters worse, the entity behind these new Malibu Media cases has authorized its attorneys to name and serve many more downloaders than their other companies have done thus far. “Naming” defendants until now have been an occasional and noteworthy occurrence. Here, it looks like it will be a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach of “name often, and name early.”

For many defendants who are obviously not guilty, when the settlement is low (e.g., in the $2K range), settling in the past has been a way to make these cases quickly go away, because it would cost more to hire an attorney to mount a de minimus/barebones defense (assuming there was such a thing and assuming it was ethical for an attorney to do this) than it would cost to settle. However, where settlements start creeping into the $7K, $8K, $10K range, I have no doubt that we might start advising that it makes more financial sense to stand up and fight.

The problem is that no defendant knows whether they have one instance of infringement against them, or ten instances of infringement until they face their opponent [and you know I believe it is a very baad idea (spelling intentional) to face an opponent suing you without having your attorney face them for you.]

In the meantime, other strategies of defense are still in play. There is no reason a defendant needs to immediately consider settling as soon as they receive a letter from their ISP. And while the plaintiff might be the same Malibu Media, LLC troll company, each local counsel has his strengths (eagerness to name defendants in federal court) and weaknesses (running his law practice from his basement). It is my job as your attorney to learn who is who — who is a threat, and who is not. From there, you can determine how serious of a threat cases in your home federal court really are.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MALIBU MEDIA, LLC:  Click here for more general information about Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits, their tactics, and their strategies.

Malibu Media Copyright Troll – The “New Kids on the Block”.

malibu-media-case-consolidations

Meet your new Malibu Media copyright troll.

There seems to be a new production company who has decided that it is a better business model for them to start suing internet users (e.g., copyright trolling) rather than selling their cheap flicks on the internet one by one. The company name is Malibu Media, LLC, and while the actual “film” allegedly downloaded probably varies from case-to-case, it appears as if “Tiffany Teenagers in Love” seems to be the primary title they are using in their lawsuits.

 [NOTE: BEFORE READING THIS ARTICLE: If you have not already done so, and you are implicated as a John Doe in a Malibu Media, LLC lawsuit, read these first:
1) “Everything You Need To Know in One Page About Your Malibu Media, LLC (X-Art) Lawsuit [FAQ]
2) “In-Depth Malibu Media.  Their Lawsuits, Their Strategies, and Their Settlements

FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about your Malibu Media, 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.]

Why are the lawyers the same as we have seen with other troll lawsuits?!?

What surprises me is that while this is a new “troll” (using the term loosely,) the local counsel they are using suggests to me that the same entity [behind the Patrick Collins, Inc., K-Beech, Inc., NuCorp, Inc., Raw Films, Ltd., Zero Tolerance, etc. cases] is also behind this case. In other words, this is simply a new client climbing on the bandwagon looking to cash in on the ongoing mass extortion scheme. The rules, however, have not changed.

[HINDSIGHT: (2017 UPDATE:) LITTLE DID I KNOW AT THE TIME THAT GUARDALEY WAS NOT ONLY THE FORENSIC COMPANY BEHIND THE MALIBU MEDIA, LLC LAWSUITS, BUT ALL OF THE MAINSTREAM MOVIE LAWSUITS *AND* ADULT FILM LAWSUITS FILED ACROSS THE U.S. (PRESUMABLY WITH THE MPAA / RIAA AS THE INVESTOR BACKING THE LAWSUITS).]

Pasted below is a list of the cases, separated by the court in which the case was filed in, and who the local counsel is. I have dealt with each one of these guys before, so as far as I am concerned, this is just one more troll to add to the list of companies who are suing defendants.  I have included the newer filings of Raw Films, Ltd. to show that these are the same attorneys.

California Central District Court – Adam M. Silverstein of Cavalluzzi & Cavalluzzi

Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-10 (Case no. 2:12-cv-01647)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-10 (Case no. 2:12-cv-01675)
Raw Films, Ltd. v. John Does 1-10 (Case no. 2:12-cv-01653)

Virginia Eastern District Court – David / Wayne O’Bryan of O’Bryan Law Firm

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-26 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00160)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-26 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00161)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-15 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00163)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-27 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00165)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-08 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00166)

California Southern District Court – Adam M. Silverstein of Cavalluzzi & Cavalluzzi

Malibu Media, LLC. v. John Does 1-13 (Case no. 3:12-cv-00358)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-25 (Case no. 3:12-cv-00362)
Malibu Media, LLC. v. John Does 1-15 (Case no. 3:12-cv-00369)
Raw Films, Ltd. v. John Does 1-11 (Case no. 3:12-cv-00368)

Colorado District Court – Jason Aaron Kotzker of Kotzker Law Group

Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-29 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00397)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-16 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00399)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-30 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00402)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-10 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00405)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-27 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00406)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-18 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00407)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-15 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00408)
Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-27 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00409)

District Of Columbia District Court – Jon A. Hoppe of Maddox Hoppe Hoofnagle & Hafey LLC

Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-5 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00233)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-16 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00235)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-11 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00237)
Raw Films, Ltd. v. John Does 1-3 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00234)
Raw Films, Ltd. v. John Does 1-19 (Case no. 1:12-cv-00236)

Pennsylvania Eastern District Court – Christopher P. Fiore of Fiore & Barber LLC

Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-15 (Case no. 2:12-cv-00664)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-17 (Case no. 2:12-cv-00665)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-10 (Case no. 2:12-cv-00666)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-11 (Case no. 2:12-cv-00667)
Malibu Media LLC v. John Does 1-22 (Case no. 2:12-cv-00668)

What to expect based on what these “?attorneys?” have done before.

On a personal note (obviously not legal advice, as each plaintiff above handles cases differently, and each person’s situation is different): We have seen these attorneys before in other cases. If you receive a copy of a subpoena from your ISP indicating that you have been implicated as a John Doe Defendant in any one of these cases, you’ll probably be instructed in the letter to file a motion to quash. As you know from my MANY articles on this blog, you know my opinion that such motions have been a waste of time for defendants (e.g., plaintiff attorney will claim that because you are not yet “named” as a defendant, you have no “standing” to file such a motion, etc., etc., etc.). More likely than not, you will not receive a letter from your ISP, and one of their creditor-like “bulldogs” will begin calling you and threatening to name you as a defendant unless you settled your case against them. They will make up odd numbers on the spot as to how much their “client” will settle for, but remember, these guys and gals (who often do not even sound sober and are probably sitting in a cubicle somewhere reading you a script) are not attorneys and likely do not have authority to settle your case. If you have spoken to me, you know my opinion is that 1) they shouldn’t even be calling you in the first place, and 2) you should not be discussing your case with them.

What else can you tell me about the Malibu Media cases?

[2017 UPDATE] The best way to learn about Malibu Media, LLC is to read what happened to them as it happened.  The list of stories below (in the order I listed them) tell the Malibu Media story in a way that you will understand them.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MALIBU MEDIA, LLC:Again, if you have been implicated as a John Doe defendant in a Malibu Media, LLC lawsuit, there are TWO (2) main articles you should read immediately:

1) “Everything You Need To Know in One Page About Your Malibu Media, LLC (X-Art) Lawsuit [FAQ],” and then
2) “In-Depth Malibu Media.  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 Malibu Media, 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.

CONTACT FORM: Alternatively, sometimes people just like to contact me using one of these forms.  If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

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