Expected development in a courtroom comedy: attorney Graham Syfert moves for sanctions

Last Thursday I wrote a post about how sloppiness, unprofessionalism and outright lies resulted in the dismissal of one of the Prenda’s individual trolling cases, Sunlust Pictures LLC, v. Nguyen, (12-cv-01685) was dismissed by Judge Mary Scriven with fireworks (emphasis is mine):

The case is dismissed for failure to appear at this hearing, for failure to present a lawful agent, for attempted fraud on the Court by offering up a person who has no authority to act on behalf of the corporation as its corporate representative, and the Court will hear, by motion, a motion for sanctions and fees against this Sunlust entity and everyone affiliated with it, including a motion against Mr. Wasinger for his purposeful failure to appear at this hearing.

As a logical next step to this dismissal, Graham Syfert filed two motions on 12/4:

Motion for sanctions against attorney Matthew Wasinger

The goal of this motion is explained clearly:

Defendant would rather see the abusive and deceitful patterns of Prenda Law terminated than be awarded monetary sanctions.

To achieve this, Graham suggests compelling Mr. Wasinger to answer specific questions in a hope that

[…] the responses serve as a warning to other potential “local counsel” representatives of Prenda Law to caution themselves in representing Plaintiffs in Federal Court without a reasonable disclosure of the facts surrounding the cases that they are accepting and ability to adequately protect the interest of their clients.

Specifically, the Defendant would like the court compel, under oath the answers to the following questions:

  1. Have you ever had an in person or over the phone conversation with Sunny Leone or Daniel Weber?
  2. Did you ever try to contact the principals of Sunlust through Prenda Law, and if so, what did those agents tell you about communicating with your client?
  3. Have you ever spoken to or exhcnaged e-mailed with John Steele?
  4. Have you ever spoken to or exchanged e-mails with Paul Duffy?
  5. What percentage of recovery was promised to you for an award in this case, and what percentage was to be paid to Prenda Law?
  6. How much was to be paid to the client?
  7. When you received a check for your fee in settling a Prenda Law case, who was it signed by?
  8. What address and business name or personal name is/was on that check?
  9. What is the name of the account on that check (i.e. Prenda Law Operations, Prenda Law Trust, Paul Duffy Trust, Steele Law Firm Trust, etc.) and what institution was it drawn on?
  10. Were your actions in the Nguyen case at any time directed by any another person than Brett Gibbs (including Joseph Perea, Paul Duffy, John Steele, Mark Lutz, or any other person)?
  11. Who composed the original drafts of the materials filed in the Nguyen case while you were counsel?
  12. Did you ever ask to see the evidence which supposedly shows copyright infringement and have you seen that evidence?
  13. Have you ever talked to anyone with the last name Hansmeier concerning Prenda Law cases?
  14. Explain the circumstances around how you came to be hired by Prenda Law, whether you responded to one of their ads or how they responded to one of your ads, including the exact date that you were hired, and who did the hiring.
Omnibus motion for sanctions against Prenda, Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs, and John Steele

This motion begins with a thorough proof that Paul Duffy is a decoy, a fake Prenda’s principal. If you read this blog regularly, you couldn’t miss the fact that I repeat this statement over and over again. The very first time I mentioned Duffy about a year ago, I did use the word “decoy”; and just a week ago I wrote:

…it is a common belief that Paul Duffy is a no one, a nominal president of Prenda, a patsy, that he does not write motions, does not argue in courtrooms, does not reply to emails.

One of Syfert’s argument is really funny, (palmface-funny, not laughter-funny): analyzing the document, purportedly written by Paul Duffy to the court (the one mentioned during the hearing), Graham made an interesting discovery:

A quick and dirty forensic examination of the PDF document, as sent by email by “Angela Van Hammel” of Prenda Law, reports that the PDF document was created by a computer user by the name of Kerry Eckenrode (the maiden name of John Steele’s wife) and was created by “Steele Law Firm.” Exhibit “C” attached gives the simple properties of this document and evidences that it was created on 11/20/2012 even though it is dated the 11/18/2012. It is possible that John Steele created the letter at the request of Paul Duffy, but it is unlikely that it was ever presented to Mr. Duffy for his approval, as he would know of his representation in the Sunlust matters.

Next, Syfert explains why everyone listed in the motion’s title should be disciplined. It does not make much sense to summarize the remainder of the document: the motion is quite concise and easy to read.



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43 responses to ‘Expected development in a courtroom comedy: attorney Graham Syfert moves for sanctions

  1. The owners of Sunlust Pictures, LLC, Sunny Leone and Daniel Weber, are going to be less than pleased when they read about the forthcoming motion for attorneys fees as the defendant is a “prevailing party”:

    “WHEREFORE the Defendant requests that a judgment be entered in the total
    amount of reasonable fees and costs, including a lodestar multiplier, according to the
    forthcoming motion for fees against Sunlust Pictures LLC, and asks that any order of fees
    as a consequence of that motion attorneys fees be also awarded jointly and severally
    against Sunlust Pictures, LLC, Prenda Law, Inc., John Lawrence Steele, Brett L. Gibbs,
    and Paul A. Duffy.”

    • Yep. The more this sort of thing ends up costing their plaintiffs, then more of them will eventually bail on the business model.

      I may be mistaken, but it appears Mr Syfert “rope-a-doped” Steele. He essentially used Steele’s narcissism and thirst for revenge to draw him in. I think the meta-data on the Duffy letter showing that it originated on Kerry Eckenrode’s computer (“Steele Law Firm” was created AFTER Steele-Hansmeier was “sold to” Prenda) shows how careless this FUCKTARD happens to be in “secretly” running Prenda while attempting to satisfy his innate need for revenge.

      I think Judge Scriven will definitely take further notice now of last week’s courtroom events.

      If this is the best that Sunlust, Hard Drive, Quad, LSM/Guava/Arte, CP, etc. etc. etc.can do as far as getting an attorney goes, then we truly have little to fear if push ever comes to shove (that is, defending oneself if ever named and served).

      • I think at first, Sunny didn’t know everything that was going on. She hired people to help curb piracy on her movies and Prenda went in a different direction. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were blocked because she was informed of the sanction against her company, and she just didn’t want to deal with it. I would probably do that if I was in her position, due to anger and not wanting to read the gloating.

  2. The omnibus motion is a great read and for Plaintiff/Troll to fight it, they are going to open their mouths and state why Syfert/Nguyen is wrong. Their response will just be more false statements – if they make one. Failure to make any attempt to defender their client (Sunlust) will just make a future claim by Sunlust for ineffective counsel that much esier. Catch-22 on Prenda Law. TAC, you have the popcorn ready?

    DTD 🙂

  3. Absolute irony: Never trust a lawyer named ‘Steele’, and never let a man named ‘Rob’ into your home. No offence to all you good Robs and Steele s.
    So yesterday Judge Snow ruled on Prenda’s Motion for Order to Show Cause: “Denied as Moot” Guess Troll Goodhue just is unlucky when it come to having things in the courtroom go in his favor, ya’ll otta try a little bit of the truth! I stipulated to the relief sought by the Troll, still denied. For some reason that is very amusing to me.?.?.
    Very up beat post! Keep up the good fight . . . David.

      • I find it hard to feel bad for anyone even mildly associated with these assclowns, especially not Duffy. They knew what they were doing and have all put themselves in the position they’re about to be in.

        The only ones I may have an ounce of sympathy for are maybe the local counsel who get hired and immediately move to be withdrawn once they realize who they’re involved with (although they should have done some research before signing on in the first place)

        • I’m trying to be sensitive and wait before marking local counsels, those hapless starving lawyers, as trolls, even avoiding to write their names often in order not to googlebomb them, and never add their names in tags. Also, I wrote polite emails to many of them, and I hope some had effect, or at least a part of cumulative effect….

        • I won’t ever feel sorry for any counsel involved in these things. Steele/Duffy/Gibbs/Siegel/Ford/etc… no way in hell. All I have to do is reflect on my state of mind while facing down my own notices and threats not that long ago, and schadenfreude takes care of the rest. Multiply my own fear, uncertainty and doubt by the hundreds of thousands of Copyright Troll Victims who’ve received their own threats, and burning in hell seems a bit too peachy of a vacation for these people.
          The local counsel that walks onto a landmine … well … that’s their own damn fault for taking the free money the puppeteers are offering without doing any investigation on their own part. Sleep with the dogs, suffer the fleas.

      • Duffy doubled down and went right to work when he became counsel of record on all of Steele’s cases, then doubled down and went full retard with those Cook County cases…at the behest of Steele I’m sure but last time I checked, he could’ve said no (I say no to people all day long, it’s my favorite word). He won’t get any of my sympathy. Even if he wanted to bail and Steele blackmailed him, he still could’ve bailed since there is this thing called “honor.” Obviously lacking there. Paul’s wife (who’s only a few years my senior while Paul is well into his 50s), well, she’s gonna have to get used to a less glamorous lifestyle (she’s gonna be in ROUGH shape if she has to tone it down) when all of their commingled assets are seized by the federal government. She runs a pretty successful business too, even found a news interview with her on YouTube. What a shame when her reputation is tarnished by her husband’s actions, oh well, shit happens and to paraphrase Steele, innocent people get hurt. While I despise fame whores (and she is one), I will not mention her name on here because she has nothing to do with Prenda AFAIK but Steele’s wife Kerry apparently drafts documents on her computer (or he uses her computer but either way she knows) and she used to work for him in Chicago…her ass is fair game.

        I don’t feel sorry for the local counsels either. They didn’t bother to even Google “Prenda Law.” Would anyone here not just go work for an employer (after answering an ad on Craigslist imagine) without knowing ANYTHING about them, but that employer happens to be a law firm and that job is to represent a client in federal court who you know absolutely dick about? It’s unconscionable that they didn’t even bother to do an ounce of research, so no sympathy. I don’t feel sorry for ANY of them.

  4. I love both these motions. Still love #13 for Wasinger. “Um, no . . . your honor. I never spoke with any Hansmeier about anything, especially not to Peter Hansmeier about what forensic evidence we might possibly be presenting against the defendant.” Yeah, right. I look forward to Judge Scriven’s ruling on these motions.

  5. Arrogance and confidence are two different things. Steele/Prenda have no confidence. All Steele/Prenda have is arrogance. His/their arrogance has finally caught up with them. I absolutely love the last 1.5 weeks with the articles on Prenda. It’s about time Prenda is getting what they deserve. It’s only going to get worse for them, and better for us and other Does. If/when Prenda goes down in flames and ceases to exist, that will reverberate in the porn industry and maybe open up some eyes and cause the industry to rethink about going after people for infringement.

    Would be nice if Steele chimed in to say everything is going great.

    • When is this before the judge again in Tampa would love to go see it in person? The moral of the story is that honeypots will catch up to you eventually!!

  6. The key to these lawsuits are the extraordinarily high statutory damages. Congress must move to amend the Copyright Act to dramatically lower the damages threshold where the alleged infringer is an ordinary consumer, rather than an operation organized for distribution and profit.

    Otherwise, the faces may change but the game will remain the same.

    • While I agree with everything you’re saying, there’s one fatal flaw: “congress must move”. Congress can’t get their heads out of their asses long enough to keep a recovering economy from falling apart at their feet, let alone do anything as minor and insignificant as preventing the exploitation and extortion of its citizens.
      Worst Congress Ever.
      I agree that a top down fix will be the end-all-be-all, but it aint gonna happen any time soon. Until then, we fight from the trenches.

  7. As to SJD’s comments about starving lawyers and local counsels, it may be surprising to learn just how bad the legal profession has become – especially for those who recently graduated.
    Unpersuaded/? Take a look at this great blog by two law professors:

    The terrible job market for lawyers and especially new lawyers, will make it easy to find desperate (or just enterprising) local counsel. There will be no shortage of takers I am afraid.

    • Here is the part that I will never [expletive deleted] understand. You go to high school, then college, then law school, then take the bar and even pass it. You get your shingle and you hang it out, after having spent tens of thousands of dollars to get to that point. Then, you go out and participate in an extortion scheme, putting everything behind you at risk of losing it all.

      How in the world could it ever be worth it? Wouldn’t you think that they would know that sooner or later they’d piss off the wrong person? …who would then make it their mission to put them out of business?

      • I am speculating here, but in my opinion I think for many lawyers, the ability to make a great deal of money and end the rat-race seems worth it even in the face of fierce, but perhaps short-lived criticism. For example, who would brag at a cocktail party they are a lawyer working for banks and taking away many people’s homes in foreclosure court? Yet, there are lawyers doing this to make “bank.”

        On one hand, scratch out a measly living being a ham and egger lawyer with no pension; on the other, being widly successful and have people hate you-but probably forget you in a few years? Enough money and many would take the latter. When you make a reservation at a fine dining restaurant or buy a great new car, they don’t ask you “but how did you make this money?” They ask you “Good evening, Sir. May I take your coat?”

        • And this is where blogs like this come in. When a law partner google a prospective new hire’s name, and the first hit is an expose of that person on describing how they shook down a poor, defenseless gramma for a few thousand dollars over an illegal download of “stop daddy, my ass is on fire” … that may raise a few eyebrows.

          Never understimate the power of publicity. As much as we does are loathe to be associated with “Plump anal pumpers in paris”, lawyers will soon loathe to be associated with Prenda, CEG or UCSG. ACS Law fell down hard in the UK, and their chief “threatener” Andrew Crossley landed on the sword. Let’s share a toast to seeing America’s bigger n better version blow up even more dramatically, eh?

        • Yeah we’ve destroyed the reputation of every single Prenda associated troll who stuck it out (and some who bailed fast), and CEG (Marvin Cable, Mike Meier), and Lipscomb and affiliated scum (Kotzker and Fiore, Nicoletti doesn’t count, he already fucked himself a long time ago), and and and…. For example, Google “Paul Lesko” and the second result that I get is a link to a story about Lesko and “Teen Anal Sluts” hahahaha.

  8. There have been about 114 (porn purveyor) copyright troll cases in Florida Middle district since mid February of 2011. Roughly 100 have troll cases were filed within the last 12 months. Many of the cases were filed by representatives of a couple of different troll networks than Prenda.

    The ruling on Syfert’s motion may effect other dockets in this district.

  9. Syfert mentions the Sunlust case(s) in ILND. Weitendorf is actually a defendant in the individual case (duh) 12-CV-07826 but is also a defendant in Sunlust v. Does 1-75 (12-CV-1546) or was when I looked it up a while back when someone obviously associated with Prenda was bragging about it on Twitter. Both in ILND. Weitendorf’s IP was never dismissed before or even after St..err, Duffy filed the individual suit.

  10. On 12-6 Matthew Wasinger filed his response to Syfert’s motion for sanctions against him in which he states:

    1. “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.”

    2. “…it is now blatantly clear that I was mislead by Prenda Law regarding the overall handling of this case.”

    3. “…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.”

    Click to access gov.uscourts.flmd.274150.33.0.pdf

    Also on 12-6 Syfert filed a motions for attorneys fees which total approximately $10,000 including costs and 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.”

    Click to access gov.uscourts.flmd.274150.35.0.pdf


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