Tag Archives: 4(m)

What is going on in the District of Columbia (DC) with their bittorrent cases?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Everyone knows by now that DC is not a friendly jurisdiction to be sued in. Like Washington D.C., the judges do not follow one another, and each judge does what he or she feels should be policy. Two examples — Judge Beryl Howell, a copyright lobbyist turned federal judge, and Judge Bates — friendly towards downloaders (but subsequently removed by other judges from the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. case).  As far as I am concerned, this court is wrought with as much politics as Washington D.C. is in general.

So let’s go through some case updates, sorted by plaintiff attorney.

I) DUNLAP GRUBB & WEAVER, PLLC

Imperial Enterprises v. Does 1-3,545 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00529) [at one point it was Imperial Enterprises, Inc. v. Does 1-3,145] — dead. On 9/26, Judge Reggie Walton ordered the plaintiffs to name and serve or dismiss defendants or dismiss them [according to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“F.R.C.P.”), Rule 4(m)] by 12/20/2011. Instead of naming defendants, Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC (who sends out settlement demand letters under the name “Media Law Group” or “MLG”) decided to dismiss all defendants. Case dismissed; congratulations to all Cashman Law Firm, PLLC defendants (and all others) who were Doe Defendants in this case. See order here.

Voltage Pictures, Inc. v. Does 1-24,582
, a.k.a., “the Hurt Locker case” (Case No. 1:10-cv-00873) [at one point it was Voltage Pictures, Inc. v. Does 1-5,000]dead. This one was actually funny. On 11/4, Judge Beryl Howell got tired of this case being on her docket. So she gave Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC (“DGW”) until 12/5 (extended to 12/12) to name and serve defendants or to dismiss them (again, the judge invoked F.R.C.P. Rule 4(m) to wipe what became a stale case off her docket).  However, DGW missed the deadline, and instead of having the judge dismiss the case, they dismissed it themselves to save themselves the embarrassment of having yet another case dismissed for them failing to move forward against defendants.

Regarding this plaintiff attorney, I received word that they were gearing up to sue individual defendants in their home states. This is nothing new as they have already started “naming” defendants for their older dismissed cases. More recently, I received word that they are hiring local attorneys and following the Patrick Collins, Inc. model of stating to dismissed defendants, “we have hired XYZ attorney in your state — unless you settle with us, we will name you in a lawsuit in your state.” The problem here is I have reason to believe they’ll follow up with the lawsuits.

There are some other “conspiracy” issues regarding this plaintiff, namely that they sent subpoena letters demanding names and contact information for various John Doe Defendants *AFTER* dismissing their IP addresses and releasing them from the case. This was written up by Torrentfreak.com, and you can read up about it here.  (NOTE: After the ISPs refused to hand over subscriber information, they added the IP address back into the lawsuit — something I don’t think they were allowed to do — but these Doe Defendants have since been dismissed as well and now they are receiving “scare” letters now as we speak.)

II) STEELE | HANSMEIER, PLLC (NOW PRENDA LAW INC.)

As we know, a few months back, Steele Hansmeier, PLLC (now Prenda Law Inc.) ventured into the DC District doing some “forum shopping” with their Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01741) and their AF Holdings, Inc. v. Does 1-1,140 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01274) cases — having been essentially locked out of their own Illinois jurisdiction, they were looking for a few favorable rulings based on DC’s “plaintiff-friendly” reputation in the bittorrent cases of the past year (they have since found a happier home filing suits in the Florida / Miami Dade state courts). In these cases was the first appearance of Paul Duffy who has since taken over Steele’s position in the firm (yes, it appears as if he is out).

AF Holdings, LLC v. Does 1-1,140 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01274) has survived scrutiny without a hiccup as Prenda has been “pretending” to search and see which defendants lived in DC. To make their searches appear valid, they immediately started dismissing a bunch of defendants a few at a time (“NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal re Does 1-8,” “…Does 9-15,” “…Does 16-35,” “…Does 36-65” — what I do not understand is, “Hasn’t Judge Reggie Walton figured out their game yet?” After all, it appears to me as if none of the defendants [so far] live in DC. And, they filed the complaint in JULY 2011! Did it REALLY take them 5 MONTHS to figure out that the first 65 defendants did not live in DC? I could have done this in just a few minutes using known geolocation tools). In short, Judge Reggie Walton is allowing this to move forward for now, but he is not stupid. My prediction is that he is going to bust this case using FRCP 4(m) any time now.

Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01741) is the case that is filled with controversy. It was in this case where Judge Bates figured out that most of the defendants did not live within the jurisdiction of the DC court. He invited Doe Defendants to file motions to quash and promised that he would keep their information sealed and private. My first inclination when I saw this was “watch out! — DC does not keep sealed documents as private — as soon as they deny the motions to quash, they expose the defendants’ information when denying the motions.”  Then a few days later, as we wrote about here, whether for political reasons or from pressure from the other judges, Judge Bates was removed from the Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does case and he was replaced by Judge Facciola, someone who in my estimation was not friendly towards bittorrent defendants. For weeks, we saw nothing from him — no indication as to whether he would honor Judge Bates’ offer to submit motions to quash anonymously, or whether he would summarily deny them. I suspected he would deny them in line with DC’s past strong stance AGAINST motions to quash.

Well, I am sad to share that Judge Facciola ended up being exactly who I thought he was. In his 12/21 ruling, he reversed everything Judge Bates was trying to do when he wrote in his order that “I will not consider any motion unless it is publicly filed.” In other words, unless you use your real information in your motion to quash (e.g., your real name, address, phone number, etc. — the exact information the plaintiff attorneys are looking for in order to start sending you “scare” letters and calling you with the effect of scaring you into a settlement), Facciola’s court will not consider your sealed motions to quash as Bates promised they would.  It need not be said that when you file a motion to quash, everybody can see it as the filing is a public document. However, Judge Facciola does not care about your privacy interests, nor does he care if plaintiff attorneys receive your private information, because according to him, “[i]ndividuals who subscribe to the internet through ISPs simply have no expectation of privacy in their subscriber information.” (emphasis added) I wonder when the last time an ISP allowed a subscriber to open an account without the subscriber’s personal information.

In sum, expect this case to move forward like all the others. We appear to have a copyright-troll friendly judge here, so please prepare yourselves to have your private information handed out to your plaintiff attorneys by your ISPs; until now, I expect that they haven’t done so. I would love to give you good news here, but so far there is no indication this is going away any time soon — at least not until Prenda Law Inc. gets its payday.

West Coast Productions. Rule 4(m) order. To name or dismiss? Plaintiffs choose to dismiss!

On July 12th, 2011, we were all in dismay as to how Judge Kollar-Kotelly allowed the West Coast Productions v. Does 1-5,829 (1:11-cv-00057-CKK) case (in the US District Court for the District of Columbia) to stay alive, especially after imposing a hard deadline enforcing FRCP Rule 4(m) on the plaintiff attorneys which came and went with no comment, no order, essentially leaving us all wondering whether an order of hers actually was something to be taken seriously or not.

Well, today I would like to congratulate many of our clients at the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC on their dismissal from the case. Up front, this is not a complete dismissal, as a number of our clients are still putative defendants in this case.

That being said, as we know, Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s latest order still stands. BY AUGUST 15TH, 2011, PLAINTIFFS MUST NAME AND SERVE (or dismiss) ALL OTHER DEFENDANTS OR ELSE THE CASE WILL BE DISMISSED.

There was no indication as to why they did this today rather than in the next few weeks. My only guess (which is a weak one at best) is that when either the judge or the plaintiffs finally dismiss the case in its entirety, it might look better for the plaintiffs — in terms of preventing FRCP Rule 11 sanctions (should the court or any attorneys bring this up) for filing a frivolous lawsuit and not even naming one defendant after all these months — that the final dismissal be of just a handful of defendants rather than thousands of pages of IP addresses. That would certainly look bad.

I have attached a copy of the dismissal letter below for your viewing pleasure. To those of you who have been dismissed who are not our clients, please allow me to congratulate you on your victory.

[scribd id=61236423 key=key-me0n3e0ainudqov7h5h mode=list]

Congratulations to Cashman Law Firm, PLLC Clients – Attorneys Suffer Partial FRCP Rule 4(m) Dismissal in West Coast Productions v. Does 1-5,829 Case

[NOTE TO CLIENTS: Regarding the article below, if you are one of those who have been dismissed, I will be sending you a congratulations letter shortly, and I will tell you what the next steps are and what to expect from Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC.]

Congratulations to our clients who have been dismissed in the West Coast Productions v. Does 1-5829 case (1:11-cv-00057-CKK). I must say up front that NOT ALL DEFENDANTS HAVE BEEN DISMISSED.  In short, this dismissal is merely Judge Kollar-Kotelly enforcing her 5/11/2011 order where she ordered the plaintiff attorneys at Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC to either name and serve the defendants identified in their 4/15 statement by 5/16 or else she will dismiss them on her own.  Like Judge Shadur has done to dispose with John Steele’s CP Productions v. Does case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois a few months back, Judge Kollar-Kotelly is employing the same Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(m) to dismiss these defendants.

The case itself is still alive.

As for what to expect next, there are a series of dates to watch for.  Firstly, Judge Kollar-Kotelly has set a 6/1 deadline for the plaintiffs to give her a status update as to the various Does still pending in the case.  Nothing of relevance will happen here.  Then, by 6/20/2011, plaintiff attorneys must either name and serve the defendants identified in their 6/1 statement or else she will dismiss them on her own just as she has done here.  Since they have a few days to inform the court of what they have done, we will likely see an order similar to the one we see today on 6/28/2011.

I have attached the order below for your viewing.  To those of you who are not one of our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients, please use the attached document to view whether your accused IP address is one of the IP addresses which are now dismissed.  If so, I congratulate you on your dismissal.

[scribd id=56243751 key=key-3ptx5nvm9ksp595tiof mode=list]

Last, but not least, on an ethics note.  It has been brought to my attention that it is the practice of some of unscrupulous attorneys to send out what are known as “scare letters” demanding thousands of dollars, even after a dismissal.  While this is obviously not legal advice, if I received such a demand letter after being dismissed from a lawsuit such as this one, I would immediately contact Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s chambers at (202) 354-3340, and I would ask to fax in a copy of the letter I have received so that the court can be made aware should the plaintiff choose to send such a letter.