Posts Tagged ‘Lawsuit Abuse’


Edward Toussaint,
Judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals
(Retired)

When it rains, it pours. As if the last week total Prenda smackdown by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was not enough, today Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed more than $63K in attorney fees and costs in an infamous collusive Guava v. Merkel (Hennepin County District Court, 27-CV-12-20976).

The opinion is harsh and a must read. I only want to note one heartwarming detail:

In the complaint that initiated this litigation, plaintiff-appellant Guava LLC is described as “a limited liability company that owns and operates protected computer systems . . . accessible throughout Minnesota.” It is unclear, however, whether Guava even exists. Despite repeated inquiries by the district court, the record includes no evidence regarding Guava’s incorporation, the identity of its principals, or the nature of its business operations.

So, after two years, during which we have been constantly questioning the existence of multiple Prenda’s empty shells (Guava, Arte de Oaxaca, LW Holdings etc.), finally courts started to realize that they were impudently defrauded.

Still waiting for the criminal law hammer to drop on the Prenda collective head. It’s a matter of when, not if though.

 

Hansmeier is continuing to dig his hole deeper: more questionable lawsuits

In the meantime, Hansmeier continues to extort small businesses using ADA lawsuits: two new cases have been filed

 

[8/8/2014 update — thanks to a commenter for a tip]
There are also less transparent state cases (search for “HANSMEIER PAUL”).

  • 27-CV-14-2417: Eric Wong vs Chatterbox Enterprises Inc, Tyrone Sharpe;
  • 27-CV-14-11721: Eric Wong vs Sawatdee Inc, Cynthia D Harrison, Jennifer T Harrison-Reilly, Supenn Harrison d/b/a Tippaya Partnership;
  • 27-CV-14-12087: Eric Wong vs Gargar Clinic & Urgent Care LLC, Argo Enterprises LLC;
  • 27-CV-14-13308: Eric Wong vs St. Paulette’s Inc (Small Bakery).

 

Some people simply cannot earn money honestly. All recent Hansmeier’s parasitic endeavors (copyright trolling, class action objections, ADA lawsuits) were all based on the only skill Paul has mastered: using his law education to rob hardworking citizens — those who actually contribute to the society.

Media coverage
2/3/2014 Update is below — Memorandum and Order sanctioning Prenda and Duffy.


U.S. District Judge
John W. Darrah

Today a hearing in Prenda v. the Internets (ILND 13-cv-04341) was held in Chicago. Cook County Record’s reporter Bethany Krajelis was there:

U.S. District Judge John Darrah at a brief status hearing today granted the motion for sanctions that defendants Paul Godfread and Alan Cooper filed this past fall against Prenda and Paul Duffy, who served as the firm’s sole officer before it dissolved and now serves as its attorney in the matter.

Following his verbal ruling on the sanctions motion, Darrah asked the defendants’ attorney, Erin Russell, to submit a list of itemized fees to the court by Feb. 6, presumably to help him come up with a dollar figure to attach to his decision.

We are waiting for the full order, and I will update this post as soon as it is filed. So far the only new document was a “Notification of docket Entry”:

 

Note that the judge also denied yesterday’s eleventh hour motion to leave to file surreply. The proposed surreply was weak even by Duffy’s standards, and the explanation of the last minute submission is mind-boggling:

Plaintiff has this week realized that that [sic], while it filed a motion to file a Surreply in opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions (filed on or about October 7, 2013 (ECF #52.)), he did not notice the motion for a hearing. This was simply the result of an oversight on the part of Plaintiff. Plaintiff now re-submits the proposed Surreply and respectfully requests that the Court grant it leave to file it.

As Raul nicely put it,

 

Indeed.

Update

2/3/2014

We have been waiting for more than a week, and finally Memorandum Opinion and Order has been issued by Judge Darrah. To say it is harsh on Prenda and Paul Duffy is an understatement. Enjoy the sweetness of justice:

Based on the conduct of Prenda and its counsel, it is clear that sanctions are warranted.

Duffy had the opportunity to address this lie in his response to the Motion for Sanctions and did not. To fabricate what a federal judge said in a ruling before another court falls well outside the bounds of proper advocacy and demonstrates a serious disregard for the judicial process.

Prenda and Duffy’s arguments against the Motion for Sanctions are unpersuasive at best. In a final act of audacity, Prenda, in response to Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions, contends that the “Court should award Prenda the fees it incurred in defending against Defendants’ patently frivolous motion.”

Media coverage
This is not some dramatic news, but I wanted to write about it anyway: Christmas Eve demands a light and cheerful mood, so I want to share a recent order in Malibu Media LLC v. Farler (INND 13-cv-00071) that made me chuckle.

Lipscomb / Nicoletti / Malibu Media / X-Art trolls continue to game the judicial system boldly, pretending that thousands of their extortion lawsuits are about justice, recouping of damages, and deterring piracy. Reindeershit. It’s all about squeezing money from low and middle class, while purported victims — pornographers — are making obscene amounts of money by filming yesterday’s children having sex.

These lawsuits were never meant to see the courtroom: even a fourth grader, who has just started mastering math, can easily prove that if trolls were serious about litigation, Lipscomb and his local puppets would need to clone themselves dozens of times to handle the load and not to run afoul of the Rules of Professional Conduct:

A lawyer’s workload must be controlled so that each matter can be handled competently.


Magistrate Judge
Christopher Nuechterlein

Some judges see the root of the problem. While they cannot rule against the law, no matter how unfair that law is, they have a lot of leverage to call out trolls’ scummy strategies. Like this: Indiana Magistrate Christopher A. Nuechterlein used some harsh words to deny Paul Nicoletti’s motion to appear telephonically at the January 17 hearing in South Bend, Indiana:

The court is aware that Plaintiff’s counsel is from out of state, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, but the court also assumes that Plaintiff’s counsel is and was aware when this action was filed that this court sits in South Bend, Indiana. As a consequence, Plaintiff’s counsel must also have been aware that there may be occasions when counsel must personally appear in South Bend. This is one such occasion.

We need more orders like this, let the trolls run like rats in the wheel to our amusement.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Remember how two years ago Prenda tried to shake down a widow in her 70s, accusing her of downloading teenage pornography? Today other trolls work hard to break this “record.” This year, Keith “I’m not a troll” Lipscomb and his Indiana/Michigan helper, a career crook Paul Nicoletti reenacted Prenda’s great labor. Raul alerted me about the case Malibu Media v. Doe (INND 2:13-cv-00097), where these lowlifes, on behalf of X-Art/Malibu Media pornographers, are extorting an 80 year old woman:

 

Now, if any infringement took place, it certainly wouldn’t have been this lady but rather her neighbors or younger family members. While our “righteous victims of piracy” may explain that they are going to figure out who the actual infringer is, it is simply impossible that this affair won’t have an impact on this lady’s health. How much do our racketeers want? Seven grand? Ten? Is this how much the wellbeing of someone’s wife, mother, grandmother worth?

Here is a two-year old story of another elderly troll victim. Her son requested not to use real names; I also redacted the troll’s name (it’s neither Lipscomb nor Prenda):

The 85 year old woman is my mother. We gave her a laptop and a wireless setup several years ago to play with and to communicate with her family [in another state]. She couldn’t tell you what a swarm is or how it works. She doesn’t know how to download. She lives on $800 a month from Social Security. [The troll] tormented her. Finally, she called me crying one night and told me what had been going on. That’s how I got involved with this, and educated myself about the forums.

On the phone, [the troll] told her that it was her responsibility to secure and lock the wireless system and that she was still liable to him for $3,500.00. Believe it or not, before telling me about all of this, and not knowing any better, she went to Home Depot and bought a Master Lock, then called me to ask how to lock her laptop up. She wanted me to install it.

Fortunately, this lady had a loving son to comfort her and explain that she became a scam victim, but who can tell how many days, weeks, months have been stolen from her life?

 

The pattern of disregard of obvious social norms by trolls is not new, and we are now witnessing another one.

I wanted to add “shame on you, Colette and Brigham,” but stopped: these so-called humans are hopelessly incapable of any humanity. They wouldn’t understand.

I wouldn’t call the Bellwether trial “miscarriage of justice,” because Judge Baylson’s hands were tied by the law (and that is good). Nonetheless, the baby apparently has genes of a sleazeball M. Keith Lipscomb, resulting in a hairy back and an ugly face. That means that trolls as species are not even endangered. Yet.

The sound recording was available right after the trial, and now you can read the transcript (you’ll need a bucket when you reach page 14):

Thanks to Dark Moe for the document.

A lot of events are still going on the Prenda front. I almost stopped covering Prenda stories, firstly, because I think that Prenda is mostly done since this spring, and I should refocus my efforts on other trolls; second, because many other people now dig for the information, discuss and cover new events. I’m happy about it. If you want to stay informed, it is better to subscribe to Popeheat’s Prenda stories’ discussion threads: the latest story usually has the most active discussion. And don’t forget to contribute to the Prenda Recap fund (PayPal simality@gmail.com) run by Kat (she checks for new documents twice a day and recaps if there are any). I hope that the TrollWiki project (currently Prenda-only) run by Andrew Norton will mature and become a useful reference resource.

I’ll continue covering the most significant and/or interesting Prenda-related events when I have time.

Motion for sanctions

On 09/09/2013 Cooper’s and Godfread’s counsel Jason Sweet and Erin Russel filed a powerful motion for sanctions in the Prenda v. the Internets (ILND 13-cv-01569). Don’t forget to browse the recapped exhibits. Exhibits A and B are hearing transcripts: I’m sure you’ll find a striking difference (in ethics and professionalism) between Duffy’s and Russel’s dialogues with the judge. Other exhibits are interesting too.

In every conceivable way, Prenda and Duffy have crafted their own doom. Lying to courtofficials, presenting false documents, making material misrepresentations on the record in this Court, filing documents in this Court with full knowledge that they lacked legal merit, pursuinglegal arguments that lack merit, all while under siege by state and federal courts issuing crushing sanctions orders, and at all times following a course of action from which any reasonably prudent attorney would run. […]

 

First amended counterclaims

On 9/18/2013 an equally powerful amended set of counterclaims has been filed. There are two major parts in this document.

The story

The first part of the document is a new short and concise iteration of the previously told story of Prenda’s theft of Alan Cooper’s identity (and of the subsequent retaliatory lawsuits).

The vermin have built rather a non-linear system of stinky burrows, and this document describes only one cross-section (Cooper- and Godfread-related), purposely leaving out the side stories (even the story related to the very same case — the one that triggered the EFF involvement). I already wrote a plethora of compliments to Jason Sweet, like

[…]as usually, a memo accompanying this motion is an excellent, refined iteration of a guide to Prenda’s shameful history of deception and abuse.

I cannot help repeating myself this time, yet this variant of Prenda’s story is told in a way worthy of mass media attention, beyond tech blogs.

The counterclaims

There are five counts:

  1. Declaratory judgment pursuant to Minnesota Anti-SLAPP immunity;
  2. Invasion of privacy — appropriation;
  3. Civil conspiracy;
  4. Defamation;
  5. Abuse of process.

 

Yes! The brand new counterclaim has been added: defamation. The bizarre nature of this Prenda’s lawsuit has been clear to any honest person: it is Prenda who defamed and harmed Alan Cooper and hundreds and hundreds of other people, damaging their careers, ruining families and relations with neighbors. Not the other way around. It is obvious to anyone that Prenda deliberately entered the libel-proof territory long time ago: you cannot defame a proven crook.

 


Hennepin County District Court Judge
Tanya M. Bransford

Remember Guava LLC v. Merkel? A collusive Prenda’s lawsuit filed in Hennepin County court in Minneapolis? I thought that this lawsuit was over, and I was gladly surprised to learn (hat tip to Jason Sweet) that yesterday Judge Tanya M. Bransford ordered Prenda parties (Guava LLC, Michael Dugas and Paul Hansmeier’s Alpha Law Firm) to jointly and severally pay $63,367.02 in attorney fees.

What we have at this moment is the order only, a detailed memorandum is yet to come. I will update this post when it is up.

The last paragraph in this order is worth mentioning: it preemptively kills any Prenda’s trolling lawsuit in Minnesota’s Hennepin County (if the gang dares to return to trolling, which is highly unlikely).

Plaintiff Guava LLC, Michael K. Dugas, Esq., Alpha Law Firm LLC and any of their agents, officers, directors, employees, representatives, affiliates, and successors, are hereby enjoined from filing any future civil action against the John Does or the ISPs, without first posting a bond with the Court in the amount of $10,000, or such other amount as the Court deems appropriate, and without first obtaining a certificate of authority from the Minnesota Secretary of State.

Kudos to the judge: unlike Illinois’ Cook County’s Judge Sanjay Taylor, who knew that a similar Guava lawsuit was a fraud but cowardly allowed it to be dismissed and forgotten, Judge Bransford made sure that justice was served.

 

 

Media coverage
Update

9/3/2013
As promised, Judge Brandsford’s Memorandum following her order is available.

The most notable is the Footnote 3 that will undeniably cast a dark shadow on the future law career of Michael Dugas:

This Court finds that Dugas lacks any credibility with this Court based upon the actions he has taken in this matter. Therefore, any declaration and testimony offered is discredited with this Court.

Today Judge Baylson published his Report on the Bellwether trial (Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1,6,13,14 and 16, PAED 12-cv-02078). Nothing is too unexpected. I’ll refrain from emotions, leaving my disgust with both “barely legal” pornography genre and copyright trolls for a later post and/or comments.

I urge everyone interested in this trial to revisit the recent post’s comment section: a heated but argumentative discussion features the entire spectrum of opinions.

A couple of quick notes:

  • To Lipscomb’s delight, his outfit was declared “not a copyright troll” based on a definition that trolls are those who don’t produce content but buy copyrights or patents for the sole purpose of litigation instead. While I respect this opinion, I disagree with it: conspiring with a real producer versus procuring copyrights is only one criterion out of many, and this complex phenomenon should be evaluated accordingly. I’m working on my definition and encourage discussion to help me with it.
  • To my pleasure, the majority of Lipscomb’s scandalous wishes did not make its way to the Report. Yet I was astonished that a statement that Malibu’s servers have been “hacked twice” was included. To me this claim sounds as a sneaky maneuver to preempt accusations in Malibu/X-Art seeding of their own content (more is coming on this front: stay tuned). To the best of my knowledge, no evidence was presented to support the hacking claim.
  • It is obvious to me that Baylson is disappointed: once promising trial turned out to be a near mockery that was lacking witness cross-examination and any adversarial arguments whatsoever. A defendant who willfully destroyed evidence, lied under oath and later admitted his wrongdoings was essentially a lottery win for Lipscomb. And it was not just a run-of-the-mill win: Lipscomb “won” a jackpot. If not for the defendant’s conduct, it is plausible that the lowest statutory damages ($750 per work) would be awarded. We saw $750 default judgments in Arizona, which, in my opinion, seriously damaged troll operations in this state.
Blogosphere and media coverage

I still can’t push myself to listen to the Bellwether trial audio recordings. While I’m procrastinating, some opinions began to emerge on the web, and the chorus of those opinions is not singing in unison:

 

One particular comment to my recent post has struck me as very insightful: I simply couldn’t help making a post out of it. Thanks to the author, whoever he is.

 

By Anonymous

X-Art
The “Winning” Team:
Patrick Paige, Tobias Fieser,
Christopher Fiore,
Colette Pelissier/Field,
Keith Lipscomb, Michael Patzer

You know, I’m listening to the audio transcript, and I have to say it’s worth doing so just to hear the cringe-worthy ass-kissing of the judge by Lipscomb in the beginning. Listening to it, you’d think the bellwether trial was Lipscomb being raised to Master Mason or something. His tone is so sycophantic that even the judge, clearly embarrassed, admonishes him for his unsubtle brown-nosing. Were you not aware of how the trial was going to go, you’d almost feel embarrassed for Lipscomb. If nothing else, the transcript is worth listening to just to get a fix on Lipscomb’s voice and manner — it is plainly indicative of the kind of man he is.

As it goes on, Lipscomb’s voice is bugging me more and more — it reminds me of something.

Far different from John Steele’s vaguely simian mumble-grunts, Lipscomb sounds like the guy who got shoved into lockers and had his glasses smashed by minions of same kind of people who now run Malibu Media (or people like John Steele, now that I think about it). I don’t know anything about Lipscomb, but just listening to this transcript, you get the sense of a very small man on stilts: Now that he’s a lawyer he gets to hang out with the popular kids who once shunned him and pushed him around, and he has, in predictable fashion, taken pleasure in tormenting others as he was once tormented. No more smashing Keith’s glasses and pushing him into a locker! He runs with the cool people now and he’s finally going to experience the sublime pleasure of ruining people, and getting paid to do it.

And then it hit me: Shoeshine Boy. Underdog’s meek, milquetoast alter-ego. That is what Keith Lipscomb’s voice sounds like, to me.

Two other things, on another note

(a) Any mention of Malibu Media on blogs should always mention X-Art. People searching on X-Art should see the way they treat people — hits to this blog and others should be near the top in search hit lists. There are thousands of ways to spend money on pornography on the Internet. People ought to really consider whether enriching these people serves any purpose, given the alternatives. The tendency of pornographers to regularly conflate the “right to be compensated for work” and “destroying people’s lives because that’s how the statutes read” needs to be brought to light: they are not the same thing.

Pornographers and their advocates insist regularly that because an argument can be made that downloading porn you didn’t pay for is wrong (and illegal), that an appropriate and proportional remedy is to relegate people to debt slavery. X-Art seems to have no moral compunction about doing this and people who are going to pay for porn ought to think about, concerns about sexual exploitation aside, whether or not they want to pay sanction to people who behave this way. I sure wouldn’t want the Malibu people as neighbors, and I sure as hell wouldn’t give them my money.

(b) A lot of bad blood could have been avoided by simply sending out settlement letters asking people whose IP addresses they subpoenaed to buy a year’s subscription to their site. Not only would this have grown their subscriber base (and compensated them for supposedly lost revenues from torrenting), but maybe people would have found a subscription worthwhile and renewed it (not only for the content but for having been treated equitably).

Maybe positive word of mouth (“Good Guy X-Art”) would have attracted other people to the site as well (“Look how good our stuff is — we think a subscription is worth buying and we think you’ll agree.”). X-Art has decided to be the sleazeballs people tend to assume all pornographers are. I understand feeling like you’re being ripped off and you’re angry about it, and I understand insisting on compensation and even reasonable damages — I cannot understand a human conscience that believes wrecking lives and relationships is a just response to such relatively minor transgressions — transgressions I would add that in balance probably drive more subscriptions to your site than actually deprive you of revenue. The greatest fallacy in anti-piracy arguments comes into play here: the idea that every download represents a lost sale.

It doesn’t. It never has.

Lastly, I admit to some fascination with Keith Lipscomb’s putative religious roots. He is now being compensated to humiliate people, possibly wreck families, and even destroy people’s lives on behalf of pornographers. Even if one takes the road of principle, that people ought to be compensated for the content they produce, I wonder if he has any pangs of conscience whatsoever about completely steamrolling people for blagging one molecule out of a giant landfill of pornography that covers the Internet. I get a pang of conscience when I kill a moth by mistake or go through the express checkout aisle with one too many items — I would love to get into Lipscomb’s head for just five minutes to know what it is like to be him. His grossly exaggerated description of BitTorrent bringing on the Tortpocalypse (or something — he made some sort of ludicrous exaggeration along these lines) is so absurd, I cannot accept that he believes what is coming out of his own mouth. Or maybe the problem that as a pornography lawyer, Keith Lipscomb has fallen so far, that he actually does. And that’s sad.

I’m not a religious person — and even when I was, I was a horrible sinner, but I might make an exception and say a prayer for Keith Lipscomb. I hope he truly questions what values it is he is serving and how he is living his life before it is too late.

I have no such hopes for the pornographers he represents. I am sure they believe themselves to be honorable business people who are the victims of Internet porn hounds. But I think when you get to a point that you’ve decided to slap your name on pornography, you’ve damn near reached the moral point of no return. Like a sort of ethical diabetes, human conscience is just ineffective at curbing your worst instincts anymore, and little you do triggers any sense of guilt or shame… or mercy.

Shame on you Keith Lipscomb and shame on you X-Art.