Previous coverage on Sunlust Pictures, LLC v. Nguyen (FLMD 12-cv-01685):
- 11/30/2012: A hearing transcript or a comedy screenplay? A must-read for those who think about settling.
- 12/05/2012: Expected development in a courtroom comedy: attorney Graham Syfert moves for sanctions.
Matthew Wasinger, feeling deceived by Prenda, is willing to answer questions
The undersigned is willing to answer the questions set forth by Mr. Syfert in his Motion upon Order by the Court and a finding of this Court that answers to these questions would not violate any potential ethical duty to Sunlust Pictures. The undersigned would truthfully answer any questions as directed by the Court under oath.
…it is now blatantly clear that I was mislead by Prenda Law regarding the overall handling of this case.
…the undersigned has significant concerns of the operation of Prenda Law that prevent the undersigned from continuing to represent the SUNLUST PICTURES, LLC in good faith, and as a result require him to withdraw in accordance with Rule 4-1.16(a) of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct.
Defendant asks for around $10,000 in attorney fees
Also on 12/6 Syfert filed a motion for attorneys fees, which totals approximately $10,000 including costs, and where he points out that:
After filing and before service, the Defendant in this action voluntarily offered up his computer for inspection by agents of the Plaintiff and claimed innocence and a lack of knowledge. Despite the volunteering and cooperation and claim of innocence, the Plaintiff through its agents continued the case were unwilling to address actual issues of liability, and instead intended to proceed solely on the tenuous action of negligence. The further bad faith at the hearing, by presenting a corporate representative without any authority, showed an objective frivolousness by continuing the litigation despite any reasonable offers of cooperation or settlement.
Syfert also points out the charade of Steele’s “non-involvement” in the affairs of Prenda:
Counsel for Defendant filed two bar complaints against Mr. Steele for his involvement with Prenda Law, and he has consistently denied involvement with Prenda Law while he is within the State of Florida. While he is in Illinois or safely behind a telephone extension in Miami, he has embraced his involvement with Prenda Law and made multiple appearances on their behalf in the Northern District of Illinois. If challenged, Defendant can produce the affidavits various federal practice attorneys throughout the United States who have tried speaking with Paul Duffy at Prenda Law, and have only been able to speak with John Steele.
Syfert goes on to warn the court that:
Despite the objection of many attorneys, the Court within the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts have liberally granted early discovery to a Plaintiff alleging harm through the infringement that can occur in bittorrent swarm. Given their potential liability, limited damages, Sunlust and their counsel should be more wary of the consequences of attempting to violate the public confidence by pursuing massive amounts of claims. Plaintiff should further be deterred from advancing fraud upon the court in the furtherance of their claims.
Judge is angry; case dismissed
And finally, the official Judge Scriven’s order dismissing the case:
Before the hearing, Paul Duffy sent a letter to the Court claiming he was the sole principal of Prenda Law and that the Court’s directive that a principal of the firm appear was, therefore, directed at him. [...] He also questioned how he would be of any assistance to the Court since he was in no way affiliated with this matter and did not represent anyone in the case. [...] However both Mr. Torres and Mr. Wasinger stated that Prenda Law was in fact involved in this case, albeit through another individual, Brett Gibbs, who resides in California…
Further, the Court finds that Plaintiff itself failed to comply with this Court’s Order and attempted to deceive this Court when it sent Mr. Lutz, who had no knowledge of the company and had no authority to speak on behalf of the company, to pose as its “corporate representative.” Finally, the Court finds that Prenda Law, the law firm both counsel stated retained them to serve as local counsel on behalf of Plaintiff, misrepresented its role in the case and relationship to the Plaintiff.
The beauty of this situation is that Prenda/Steele have painted themselves into a corner in that they cannot oppose either the motion for sanctions or attorneys fees without risking another hearing before Judge Scriven.
- 12/20/2012: Prenda hires an outside counsel in Sunlust Pictures v. Nguyen case.
- 12/21/2012: “White collar criminal defenders” attempt to defend Prenda’s scam artists. Surfacing of a new evidence of others’ identity misappropriation by Prenda.
- 12/30/2012: Does “under penalty of perjury” mean anything? Apparently not for Prenda and one of its plaintiffs.
- 01/03/2013: Graham Syfert reiterates his demand for sanctions, accuses John Steele of fraud.