AF Holdings, LLC v. Does 1-1,140 — Dismissed, but according to the plaintiff’s plan.

On Friday I wrote a scathing review of the AF Holdings, LLC v. Does 1-1,140 (Case No. 1:11-cv-01274) case dismissal, but I did not post it.  In short, congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients (and all the others implicated in this case) who have been dismissed from the case.

The difficulty I am facing is that while being dismissed is the goal of any John Doe defendant in a bittorrent case, in my opinion, I am uncomfortable with the way the dismissal happened. 

As many of you know, there was new precedent set by Judge Facciola’s ruling in the West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,434 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00055) case, and as a result, Judge Reggie Walton gave the plaintiffs until March 9th, 2012 to start naming or dismissing defendants.  In short, instead of admitting improper jurisdiction, yet another D.C. judge opted to invoke the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(m) which gives plaintiffs 120 days to either name or dismiss defendants.  Understanding that the Prenda Law Inc. plaintiff attorneys had no interest in continuing the lawsuit against individual Doe defendants, they dismissed the case.

Now while it is always nice when opposing counsel opts to kill a case rather than move forward against defendants, Prenda Law Inc.’s local counsel revealed more than he probably should have to the court.  In a move which probably angered Paul Duffy and his superiors, Tim Anderson wrote the following paragraph:

Plaintiff acknowledges the Court’s busy docket; Plaintiff is currently engaged in settlement negotiations with a substantial number of putative Doe Defendants.  Rather than prematurely initiate litigation against individuals who may ultimately wish to resolve Plaintiff’s claims via settlement — and thus needlessly burden the Court — Plaintiff believes that dismissing the claims against the remaining non-settling Doe Defendants in this action without prejudice in lieu of filing actions against non-settling individuals strikes a favorable balance between preserving Court resources and safeguarding its intellectual property rights.

In other words, “Court, we are dismissing the case so that you do not need to waste your time looking over us watching what we are doing.  We would prefer not to have you watch us anyway because you will force us to do something we don’t want to do (e.g., “name” defendants), which would make our extortion scheme much more costly to us and thus we wouldn’t be able to sustain our operation if we had to actually go after defendants.  So thanks to you, since we now have all the names we need from the ISPs of the putative Doe Defendants, we will continue to call and harass those who haven’t settled without having you worry about what we are doing.”

In short, I would have liked to see the judge issue an order indicating that since they have dismissed the case, they are no longer permitted to use the names they acquired from the subpoenas and collect settlements from putative defendants.  The legal system is not a tool to discover private information about internet subscribers only to dismiss the case and continue their extortion scheme offline.

For this reason, I suspect that you understand why I am not so happy with this case dismissal.  Getting your names only to dismiss the action was simply part of their plan all along.

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Prenda Law, Inc. takes over Steele | Hansmeier, PLLC

Obviously I will write more as I learn more, but to the best of my knowledge, Prenda Law, Inc. has taken over Steele|Hansmeier, PLLC’s cases.

You will see that Steele’s “We Fight Piracy” website at has been replaced with a cheap looking WordPress blog with a few articles on intellectual property. No doubt, a new website is being built now as we speak (you can see Steele’s old website on the Way Back Machine at

This appears not to be another name change as it was just a few months ago from “Steele Law Firm, PLLC” (specializing in Illinois family law) to “Steele|Hansmeier, PLLC” (specializing in copyright litigation). This appears to be a new plaintiff attorney that we will be seeing more from as these cases advance. I am told that Paul Duffy is the one in charge now, and not John Steele (funny how Paul Duffy’s first two cases are AF Holdings, Inc. v. Does 1-1,140 and Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495 in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, both of which will probably go bust).

While this name change could all be a diversion so that attorneys such as me on the defense side will “leak” the story and focus on Paul Duffy (who for all we know can still be John Steele’s local counsel and just someone to create a diversion), as far as I know, this take-over / sale / buy-out of Steele|Hansmeier, PLLC will be a new chapter in the bittorrent litigation cases. I have been told that Prenda Law, Inc. has many more attorneys, although I will confirm this if and when I learn more about how they operate.

In order to uncover what is really going on, I could use as many of you as possible to post what you know about Paul Duffy, his history, and Prenda Law, Inc.

All I know about Paul Duffy so far is that he appears to have worked for Freeborn & Peters, LLP. He appears to have been born in Illinois on November 1, 1959. He was admitted to practice law in Illinois (’92), in Massechusetts (’93), and in California (’03). He went to Elmhurst College where he graduated in 1981 with a BS, spent four years doing something, and then got his MBA at Loyola University in 1987. He has two years where there are no whereabouts about him, and then in 1992, he graduated from DePaul University law school.

Again, this could all be a rouge to take your attention off of something else. Plus, this information I gathered on Duffy was from basic guesswork by pulling things off of the internet. I could be completely off base. That being said, it will be interesting to see what Prenda Law, Inc. does with these cases.

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