Attorney M. Keith Lipscomb operates a nationwide copyright infringement lawsuit machine out of the offices of Lipscomb, Eisenberg & Baker, PL in Miami, Florida. It is widely assumed that he directs and oversees the operations of a small army of copyright troll attorneys who range from California to New York and terrorize United States citizens with their porn copyright infringement lawsuits which have been judicially declared “essentially an extortion scheme.” Indeed these copyright troll attorneys have been judicially compared to predatory locusts.
For Lipscomb the most fruitful judicial district to ply his predatory extortion racket has been the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida (FLMD). Since March of 2011 his law firm has filed countless porn copyright infringement lawsuits against countless “John Does” and has extracted millions of dollars in settlement monies (an educated guess, admittedly).
The reason for this is clear: the FLMD welcomes copyright troll lawsuits. Judges from this district have never refused Lipscomb’s motions to expedite discovery to ascertain the personal info of the “John Does” so they can be harassed into settlements. Likewise no judge from this district has granted a “John Doe” motion to sever the numerous “John Does” from the main lawsuit as is frequently granted in other judicial districts for a variety of reasons but which has the effect of dampening the explosion of these types of lawsuits. Accordingly as of today the FLMD hosts “83 copyright cases against 11,597 John Does”. So, you could say, things were going great for Lipscomb with the lawsuits going out one door and the settlements coming in another — until today.
Thanks in no small part to the efforts of Cynthia Conlin, Esq., the Hon. James D. Whittmore granted her motion to sever in the lawsuit entitled Malibu Media v. John does 1-28 (12-cv-01667). Judge Whittmore’s Order read a lot like that of Judge Young of the District Court of Massachusetts in Third Degree Films v. Does 1-47 (MAD 12-cv-10761). In fact Conlin cited the MAD case as Supplemental Authority and Judge Whittemore cited it approvingly in his Order.
The Order itself approves of the copyright troll theory of “swarm joinder” which the judge notes has been disapproved of by many other federal justices. Nonetheless he moves on to grant severance on the ground that joinder of so many “John Does” violates Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 21 for essentially two reasons.
The likelihood of multiple unrelated motions and defenses leads to a conclusion that there are few, if any, litigation or judicial economies to be gained by joining these claims, notwithstanding the allegations that the Doe Defendants participated in the same swarm.
By filing a single lawsuit against twenty-eight defendants, Malibu has paid only $350 in filing fees, rather than the $9,800 it would have paid if the lawsuits had been brought separately.
The judge notes that filing fees provide a “threshold barrier” against the filing of meritless or frivolous lawsuits which he finds is an appropriate reason for Malibu Media to start filing separate lawsuits. Additionally the judge observes that:
By filing multi-defendant complaints, Malibu’s lawsuits have deprived the court of hundreds of thousands of dollars in much needed revenue, while burdening the docket with cases that are difficult to manage, in the traditional sense, without extraordinary judicial time and labor. Severance will enable efficient management of each case, preserve the purpose of filing fees and protect the docket against problematic filing practices.
In conclusion the judge holds that:
Although joinder is permissive under Rule 20(a)(2), concerns of fairness, prejudice, expedience, cost, practicality, and case management warrant severance of the individual claims.
We can only hope that other justices of the FLMD will see the wisdom of this approach and follow suit.
12/07 Cynthia Conlin comments:
Raul, this is an awesome post! Thank you for the credit but I need to make a correction. Although I did file a motion in the case for one of the Does (my Doe is #7 in this case), the first motion filed, and the one that was granted, in this case was by Attorney Michael Savage, who practices out of Punta Gorda, Florida. He filed the motion on behalf of Doe No. 2. Also, I think that Whittemore considered not only the motions in this case, however, but also motions filed in other Middle District cases from William Wohlsifer (Tallahassee), Daniel Simon (Miami), Daniel Tamaroff (Miami), Graham W. Syfert (Jacksonville), as well as myself — we’ve all been filing a TON of motions in the Middle District of Florida, and Whittemore has been seeing these cases for many months now. This order was a long time coming, and I can tell he and his law clerks put lot of thought was put into it.
Substitute Lipscomb for Old Grinch: