Answers are filed in the Prenda’s defamation lawsuits

Today defense attorneys Jason Sweet and Erin Russell filed answers in two remaining Prenda’s defamation lawsuits:

  • Paul Duffy v. Alan Cooper, Paul Godfread and the Internets, ILND 13-cv-01569 (Answer).
  • Prenda Law v. Alan Cooper, Paul Godfread and the Internets, ILSD 13-cv-00207 (Answer).

Answers are nearly identical and provide ten affirmative defenses. Also, six counterclaims are asserted:



  • A: Copyright assignment agreement purportedly signed by Alan Cooper.
  • B: Ingenuity 13 Petition (Gibbs, CAED 13-cv-01569).
  • C: Rental agreement signed by the real Alan Cooper.
  • D: Paul Godfread’s December letter filed in four MN AF Holdings lawsuits.
  • E: First Wright’s OSC (February 7, CACD 12-cv-8333).
  • F: Alan Cooper v. Steele et al. complaint (Hennepin, MN).
  • G: Paul Duffy v. Cooper, Godfread & Internets complaint (Cook, IL).
  • H: Prenda Law v. Cooper, Godfread & Internets complaint (St. Claire, IL).
  • I: John Steele v. Cooper, Godfread & Internets complaint (Miami-Date, FL).

Note an interesting email sent by Paul Hansmeier to Paul Godfread on 2/21/2013 (p. 16):

Dear Mr. Godfread:

My firm has been retained by Livewire Holdings LLC to pursue claims in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota against you and your coconspirators arising from defamation, civil conspiracy and related acts. The alleged acts occurred in e-mail communications and blog posts describing my client as a criminal enterprise. As you know, such statements constitute defamation per se and are, quite frankly, wildly inappropriate. Less-egregious claims have resulted in multi-million dollar judgments, as I trust this one will. The facts of the underlying case are essentially a law school exam hypothetical of every possible variation of libel. Perhaps you can forward my client’s complaint to your former professors at William Mitchell. My client is well-aware that you are a major contributor to these blog sites. The purpose of this e-mail is to inform you of impending litigation so that you preserve all relevant evidence in your possession including, but not limited to, communications between yourself and David Camaratto, Morgan Pietz, Nicholas Ranallo and any other individuals associated directly or indirectly with the sites fightcopyrighttrolls and dietrolldie. Further, any and all other evidence that might be relevant to this matter must, of course, be preserved. I suspect that you aligned yourself with these defamatory efforts as a marketing strategy. I don’t know if these efforts paid off, but I can assure you that making baseless accusations of criminal conduct is not a wise move for a licensed attorney. All of that being said, my client knows that you didn’t work alone in these wrongful efforts. If you think we are missing out on more serious actors in your enterprise my client would be willing to consider decreasing your liability in exchange for information about these individuals. Of course, that interest will disappear if someone else comes forward first. Think it over and let me know. If you’re willing to take the fall for whole group then you are decidedly a “true believer.”

Welcome to the big leagues.


“Big leagues” is a relative term, and even if Prenda’s attorneys believe to be superior to Paul Godfread (which is a highly questionable claim), current defense (don’t forget to add EFF to the bunch) is obviously a couple of leagues higher. No matter what an endeavor is, hubris is a bad companion.


  • On 3/26/2013 defense attorneys filed a motion to transfer one of the two cases from the IL Southern district to IL Northern district. A memorandum supplements the motion.


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67 responses to ‘Answers are filed in the Prenda’s defamation lawsuits

  1. Paul’s correspondence is on behalf of LiveWire, which has not filed any defamation suits. Can we infer from this that they may have also been planning to launch suits on behalf of AF, Ingenuity and LiveWire? Or was this just another example of the “senior partners” failing to maintain the fiction that they and their clients are separate entities.

    Looks like these guys truly had no idea what was in store for them on March 11. One month ago they thought they were going on a major offensive, now they are on the run, the targets of their defamation lawsuits are armed to the teeth, Godfread was in LA on the 11th so he knows just what was said and how bad it was for Prenda, while they just got their transcript copy to pore over and scramble for damage control.

    They have made themselves minor celebrities and laughingstocks of the Internet and real lawyers. The counterclaims are going all the way in accusing them of fraud and going for piercing the corporate veil. Godfread and Cooper go armed with the testimony from March 11 and before too long they will also have the aftermath of April 2 on their side.

    Even with their brazen track records, I can’t believe they let these cases stay on the docket long enough for counterclaims to be filed. Especially after they read reports from the March 11 hearing, how can they think this will end well?

    • You beat me to it! Every day that I saw these lawsuits not dismissed was another day I pondered the quality of the legal advice Prenda must be receiving at this point. What are the chances that yet another example of Hansmeier’s overreaching will escape Judge Wright’s radar by 4-2?

      • Dear Paul Hansmeier,

        Welcome to the big leagues.

        The Internets

        P.S., I hope you obey the honorable Judge Wright’s order to appear on April 2. We have it marked on our calendar!

  2. I like the dig against William Mitchell. Like the University of Minnesota is sooo much better of a law school with such notable luminaries as Brett Gibbs and John Steele. I hope Paul Godfread eviscerates them with the Minnesota Anti-SLAPP statute.

  3. Reading the counter claims section of both documents left me a bit confused. It appears that the terms Plaintiff and Defendants got flipped from how they were defined at the top. Is this common or does a corrected document need to be filed?

    • LXT, yes.

      in the answers/defenses part they are the defendants and are written from such a perspective
      in the counterclaims part they are the plaintiffs of the counterclaims and are written from such a perspective

      disclosure: not a lawyer.

  4. Funny, “big league” taunts from someone who admitted in their deposition under oath that they have NEVER TAKEN A DEPOSITION. Funny stuff.

        • Let’s make a quick professional degree school parallel.

          If a Mayo Clinic grad had a different treatment approach from a University of Minnesota grad, would they disparage their colleague in writing as “persuasion” about their approach? If a U of M-Twin Cities engineering grad had a different evaluation of a structure’s stability than an MSU-Mankato grad, would the perceived prestige of their alma maters being a worthy point of argument?

          Neither an engineer nor a physician would use their school as a written point of argument in such a dispute, nor leave open the legal vulnerability, “in my opinion”.

  5. These guys are so thoroughly unprofessional. And full of themselves.

    Bring on April 2nd, please. Time to check into the real world.

  6. When are these luminaries going to learn that people are wise to them now and they’re going to accumulate some very well-though-out and deeply researched counterclaims. They’ve got the Intarwebs up their arses and their deeds under a magnifying glass. Their hubris will be their ultimate downfall.

    Just for kicks, Cooper should go to St. Kits and withdraw all the funds from these “entities” and repatriate the loot. Do his version of the Shawshank Redemption. Oh, the irony. 🙂

  7. Yes indeed, welcome to the big leagues… where a motley band of anonymous posters have helped mortally wound your company and your careers by exposing the underhanded dealings you’ve been involved in.
    Did you think we’d run and hide?
    Well it appears you was wrong, because we found a whole truck load of skeletons in your closets and they are coming out into the light.

    So how is all of this working out for ya? 😀

    • Indeed.

      They should have found someone to give them a nice, gentle introduction to the Big Leagues as they are clearly not ready to play.

  8. I cannot believe that people have to expend time and effort defending themselves against these ass clowns. So, copyright trolling hasn’t been going your way. OK, let’s try class action claim objections. Not so good? OK, well let’s try defamation suits. What’s next? Slipping in the courtroom hall out in CA on April 2nd and suing for personal injury? I am so effing ticked off right now. I know you don’t like us to sink to their level, but I wish they would get hit by a bus. The world would be a much better place. This has been one man’s opinion.

  9. I wonder why no one made a note of the following. This POS Hansmeier cynically mocks what most people think of as a natural human quality: dignity. “true believer” my ass! Most normal people, regardless of occupation, won’t snitch “to reduce liability.”

    And that is as good as it is disgusting: it means that H & his gang are made from a different moral fabric (as if we did not know!) and will cut each other’s throats in the time of their comeuppance. Prepare your gas masks, as we expect intensive poo slinging in the purported “big league” soon.

  10. It will be interesting to see if there is any response to this. If so it will be an indication that they are still using PACER, reading the Internet, checking their email, opening their mail, etc.

    I’m sure they aren’t planning to let it go to default but any indication of life is sure to pique Judge Wright’s curiosity.

  11. Thank You to both Erin & Jason for an excellent, well written & documented “answers”. Glad you’re both on this side of the tracks, with the Doe’s. So Doe’s – the right things have been done; what are the next right things that need to be done?

    • If this was a movie remake of the collapse of ACS:Law about now their server would be nuked from orbit and a full backup of the site would be making publicly available details of every shady thing they are into.
      But we aren’t in a movie… and hacking websites is wrong.

      So when in doubt find something, explore and dig using the magic of Google.
      There have been some serious revelations made recently about the class action stunts and I can not believe that’s all that is out there.
      The honeypot possibilities don’t surprise me at all, it is a tried and true tactic.
      One never knows when a little fragment you find fits the missing piece of someone else’s puzzle and exposes something.

        • And this is where I give a rousing speech reminding everyone who posts here or even just lurks that you don’t need to be a shadowy online figure with a trendy avatar to work Google.
          Everyone has their own talents and thoughts, pursue what catches your eye. Even if you don’t find the body buried in the backyard, everything is helpful.

  12. Prenda’s “big leagues” provide an excellent model of how our flawed legal system can be exploited, and innocent people harmed for the personal gain of one or two douchebags.
    If congress ever gets their heads out of their collective asses, and finally address some tort reform, they should use the Prenda story as an example against which they can test their legislation.

    • The “loser pays” rule would completely shut down this kind of douchebaggery. Every time Steele, etc, voluntarily dismiss a complaint, they automatically become liable for the costs of the defendants. Given their judicial record, their kinds of suits are massive failures all around, hence, they’d be in the hole quite a bit.

  13. I know that whoever goes to the 4/2/13 meeting will meet with the standards of decorum of Judge Wright’s courtroom. However, I have this image of the judge, bailiff, court reporter, and the entire gallery kittted out in replica jerseys from every MLB franchise. The name on the back of the jerseys in the gallery all say “Cooper, A”

    Ah, that brought a smile to my face. Hope it did to yours.

  14. My personal favorite thing about this letter to Godfread is that Hansmeier is using the terms “I” and “we” and “my client” interchangeably.
    “I suspect that you aligned yourself…” “I don’t know if these efforts paid off” “I can assure you”
    “My client knows that you didn’t work alone” “if you think that we are missing out” “my client would be willing to…”

    Exactly who is the client and who is the counsel again? It’s no wonder that Judge Wright grilled Prenda’s lawyer about how they could keep a straight face when talking about clients retaining counsel.

    • Notice that even Gibbs’ lawyer couldn’t keep it straight when filing his proof of service of judge Wright’s last order to appear.

      He served Livewire, AF and Ingenuity care of Lutz, but he did not attempt to serve Prenda on behalf of their supposed clients AF, Ingenuity and Livewire. That seems like it would be a reasonable thing to do if indeed these were independent companies and Prenda is their law firm. Along those lines, Waxler did attempt to serve Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy and Van Den Hemel’s attorney on their behalf, although unsuccessfully.

      Presumably it is in Gibbs’ best interest to maintain the story that he was just a contractor, not aware of any impropriety, and it was all the “senior partners” fault. But his lawyer gave a nasty tell when he didn’t attempt to serve Prenda on their shell companies’ behalf, almost as if there is no distinction between them. That suggests to me that Gibbs knows what the organizational structure was, he has told Waxler, and Waxler let it slip by not maintaining the cover story when he served the required parties.

  15. There is a discussion on Twitter about the dates. It is not clear when the deadline for these (removed) actions were due. According to Rule 81 (c) it is overdue (original action filed on 2/14, removed on 2/28):

    […]A defendant who did not answer before removal must answer or present other defenses or objections under these rules within the longest of these periods:

    (A) 21 days after receiving—through service or otherwise—a copy of the initial pleading stating the claim for relief;

    (B) 21 days after being served with the summons for an initial pleading on file at the time of service; or

    (C) 7 days after the notice of removal is filed.

    I hope lawyers will chime in and explain.

    • SJD,
      I got another harassment message from a Tom Labriola from Guava, LLC at (888) 588-9473 today giving me the courtesy phone call to settle again. What happened to Mark Lutz? Or is he just going under a different name? I couldn’t really tell them apart, I’ve gotten, saved, and ignored 5 voicemails from them now. Thoughts?

      • Thanks for the info. The absence of Lutz may (or may not) mean that he is going to avoid Wright’s summons: calling people in this case is dangerous as anyone can let him know about his duty to appear in LA on 4/2 and testify.

        I don’t now… We will investigate who Tom Labriola is (if he is real). If you can send me a saved voicemail(s) from anyone but Lutz, I will appreciate, but no pressure: so much is going on — even if we discover that Tom == Mark, it will be a nice bit of information, but by no means critical.

        • Can anyone serve these folks? If Mr. Steele happened to be at the end of the bar – can the bartender serve him? Just wondering because it’s beer o’clock somewhere.

        • Lutz has a new job. According to his LinkedIn profile, he disassociated with Steele last August. He is now a Senior Sales Manager at “Accord Assets” selling CDs, annuities, etc. I hope he has the proper FINRA licenses 😛 I’m making conjectures here, but that would be a fantastic way for Prenda to launder cash. It’s located in Miami, it sells literally EVERYTHING (futures, options, commodities, equities, debt, insurance, mutual funds, everythg) and manages IRAs, 401(k)s, purchases structured settlements…wow, I’ve seen a lot of firms like this and it usually does not turn out well for them once the feds sink in their teeth. These “jack of all trades” firms…bad. It’s like a lawyer who has no specialty (a jack of all trades attorney may know a little about a lot, but never a lot about anything). Same goes for accountants.

          Basically Lutz is saying he doesn’t have anything to do with Steele, Duffy, Hansmeier, or Prenda period. I call bullshit.

    • No proof of service is filed, so perhaps Cooper and Godfread were not formally served, or were served on a date where the 21 day timelines apply?

    • It is a common practice for attorneys to extend deadlines as a matter of professional courtesy which is usually confirmed by an an email or letter.

    • Only those served are required to answer. And unless our identity is known to Prenda, the complaint is modified, and summons are served, nothing is required from our side. At this stage we prepared to fight any subpoenas if they ever allowed by federal judges. The invalid (illegal?) subpoenas issued by state courts to WordPress are effectively dead.

  16. Holy carp. The number of instances of “Paragraph X of Plaintiff’s Complaint contains no allegations directed at Defendants and therefore no response is required” is pretty impressive. The entire motion that the trolls filed must have been one epic tantrum wrapped around a few feeble protestations of butthurt. Let’s hope the judge can see through it and get to the heart of the matter before cutting it out and feeding it to the trolls.

  17. been thinking about your Tweet comment from yesterday “Interesting… @shari_duffy, Paul Duffy’s wife started following me on Feb 3, and some time last week she suddenly blocked me.”

    Thinking maybe it wasn’t Shari who “blocked” you; maybe Paul found out and told her to OR maybe it was Paul himself. just a thought

    *IF* Paul had a hand in “blocking” you the thought trailed into what their home life might be like recently. It would pretty safe to assume it might be chaotic, at the least, given the status of Mr. Duffy’s career as of recent.

    Then the thought occurred to us that this crazy situation might someday become a “bestseller” and wondered if FCT, DTD TorrentLawyer, and the others should consider “protecting” the information contained herein so as to ensure the information is presented accurately in any other written form other the the blogs themselves. just another thought

    • Shari has been following me on Twitter for a while, like 2-3 months, she didn’t block me. It’s really funny because I found her FB profile and we have one common friend hahaha.

      She’s gotta be loaded after starting that business, it looks lucrative as hell (and completely legal), much more lucrative than trolling and it’s actually 100% legit too so kudos to her for being successful. I really don’t know if Paul and his wife are cozy but I’ve never seen a picture of the two of them together which is odd to say the least.

      Get this, I (and everyone else who she was following/being followed by) was/were invited to their Christmas party at their house in Chicago HAHAHAHA. That would be funny as shit if we showed up, they’d have NO IDEA.

      • I have seen several “celebration” and “party” shots with them together. A general web search yielded quite a few photos (some within a few months to a little under a year). Even mainstream websites (e.g. Chicago Tribune) has pictures of them posing together. They are maintaining quite a high profile internet presence.

        Legit, ethical, moral “straight”, and/or legal, her direct spousal relationship with him may come in to question with authorities (whomever they are).

  18. Odd Ball Question: Since Prenda PLLC (or whatever name it is using) filed a Copyright for same “video of artistic and scholarly demonstration” in Alan Cooper’s name, couldn’t Alan Cooper relinquish that Copyright and make if free for everyone? i.e. “give it away”

  19. I have a prediction for April 2nd 2013 OSC in California before the Honorable Otis D Wright: It’s my guess ( as silly lay person) that most, if not all parties will be no shows. Any order that is entered will be challenged due to “lack of service”. Just my personal opinion and a guess… Heh.

  20. New docket update today for the Prenda defamation suit in ILSD:

    ORDER DIRECTING Prenda Law, Inc., to file its Rule 7.1 disclosure statement by April 16, 2013. Signed by Chief Judge David R. Herndon on 4/9/2013. (mtm)THIS TEXT ENTRY IS AN ORDER OF THE COURT. NO FURTHER DOCUMENTATION WILL BE MAILED. (Entered: 04/09/2013)

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