Following judge Gibney’s order, another Virginia judge, Tommy E. Miller trashed a similar mass p2p porn lawsuit by a Virginia troll, Timothy V. Anderson (the same attorney who undersigned Steele Hansmeier’s amicus brief — a desperate attempt to prevent copyright trolling “business model” from falling apart). The judge was not convinced by the trolls’ “swarm theory” that was employed to justify improper joinder of multiple Does and ordered to sever all but one Doe from the case.
Judge Miller did not go as far as judge Gibney did: he did not label this case as frivolous, but there is an interesting paragraph in the order:
Further, Timothy Anderson, Esq., attorney for Plaintiffs, is ORDERED, within 5 days of the entry of this Order, to advise the Court as to whether he is associated with John Steele, Esq. in any way in this case.
The reason for that is a letter to Court, filed by an anonymous Doe, about a threatening call from John Steele himself:
On October 13, 2011, another anonymous Doe Defendant (“Doe Defendant X”) filed a letter under seal with the Court. Letter, ECF No. 16. In this letter, Doe Defendant X stated that he had been contacted by John Steele, Esq. regarding this matter. During the phone call, Mr. Steele offered Anonymous the ‘opportunity’ to settle for $3,400 by October 18th. Mr. Steele informed Doe Defendant X that Doe Defendant X would be named as a defendant in the case should this settlement offer be rejected.
This paragraph’s footnote refers to Steele, and this reference is far from being flattering:
John Steele, Esq., is an Illinois-based attorney, who has represented numerous other adult entertainment producers in cases now, or recently pending in the Northern and Southern Districts of Illinois. See VPR Internationale v. Does 1-1017, No. 11-2068, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64656, at *6 n. 1 (C.D. Ill. Apr. 29, 2011). District judges have begun recognizing Steele’s representation of these companies against multiple Doe Defendants, named without sufficient evidence as to their involvement, as “effort[s] to shoot first and identify his targets later.” Mem. Order, Boy Racer, Inc. v. Does 1-22, No. 11-C-2984 (C.D. Ill. May 5, 2011).
So, it seems like a mere association with John Steele is poisonous for any local attorney, and this is not my thinking, but judges’. Reputation is something that is built over years of hard work, but it can be destroyed in no time. Having switched from divorce law to ethically questionable mass p2p litigation, Steele destroyed his reputation pretty quickly. However, he still managed to collect some cash from uninformed defendants during a short period of time — until judges all over the US have finally learned about him and his scam.
Thanks to “yes im a doe” for the great news.
Mr. Anderson has replied to judge Miller’s order and disobeyed judge’s order:
Further, the Court ordered Plaintiff’s counsel to disclose his association with attorney John L. Steele, Esq. Plaintiff has carefully reviewed the Court’s Order and respectfully believes that it is inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Federal Rules.
Then he even tried to defend Steele and attack judge Shadur:
The Court’s views on Mr. Steele—and by extension, Plaintiff—have obviously been impacted by the sealed pleadings of putative infringers who have been impliedly granted the right to proceed pseudonymously. In its order, the Court heavily criticizes Mr. Steele, who has never even appeared before the Court.
…and what’s most egregious, he accused the anonymous filer of lying:
…Based on the Court’s discussion, the sealed pleadings discussed attorney John Steele, Esq. According to the Court, an anonymous filer claimed that he was called by Mr. Steele regarding this action, that Mr. Steele conveyed an offer of settlement to the anonymous filer and that Mr. Steele informed the anonymous filer that he would be named as a defendant in the case should the settlement offer be rejected.
Plaintiff is confident that the sealed pleading contains false representations. Contrary to “Doe Defendant X’s” representations, Mr. Steele has not personally “cold called” Virginia-based infringers in this action.
I have no slightest doubt that it was indeed Steele who called the anonymous filer. How wonderful it would be if the guy had recorded the conversation… But scumbags know when it is safe to lie: no proof of the conversation exists, yet if they think they fool general public (and judges) this way, they grossly overestimate their IQs.
To finish on a good note, judge Miller denied Anderson’s Motion to Reconsider outright.
I found the evidence of Timothy Anderson’s association with John Steele, presented by… John Steele himself:
John Steele of the Chicago law firm Steele Hansmeier is the chief lawyer filing these suits around the country.
He said he enlisted Virginia Beach attorney Timothy Anderson to file the two suits here on his behalf. Anderson did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Does it prove that Anderson’s lied in an official court document saying that Steele never called and blackmailed “Doe Defendant X”? I don’t know, but if I were a judge I would consider an investigation and sanctions for lying to the Court.