On 3/28/2014 defense attorney Morgan Pietz (with local counsel in Maryland John C. Lowe) filed a bunker buster of a motion in three Maryland individual cases, all titled Malibu Media, LLC v John Doe (MDD 14-cv-0223, 14-cv-0257 and 14-cv-0263).
This motion is, in part, a continuation of the work by Jonathan Phillips, who discovered and called out unethical (to say the least) contingency fee agreement between Malibu’s nationwide counsel, M. Keith Lipscomb, and a key witness, a German “IP harvester” IPP International.
The title of the motion is rather long: ISP subscriber’s motion for an order to show cause as to why all evidence and data from Tobias Fieser and his company IPP should not be precluded and these cases dismissed.
Tobias Fieser’s declaration is basically the only “evidence,” upon which the entire trolling house of cards is built (no wonder the trolls sabotage any discovery so aggressively), and if Lipscomb and his clique did not lie through their teeth when asking for ex parte discovery, courts would most likely think twice before allowing it:
Common sense and the slew of cases cited in Section III(a)(2), above, all suggest that the Court might have excluded or, at the very least, looked more skeptically at the Fieser declaration if the Court knew it was coming from a contingent fee witness. Thus, disclosing Fieser and IPP’s contingent interest in the litigation as an adverse fact as part of the ex parte early discovery requests would be required under Rule 3.3(d).
In the Prenda case, when confronted with probing questions about mysterious offshore shell companies fronting the nationwide settlement mill, rather than provide answers to these questions, the Prenda lawyers attempted to “cut [their] losses and run out of court, using Rule 41 as an emergency exit.” It appears that the same thing has now occurred in the Malibu cases in this district. Malibu has unilaterally dismissed a case pending before Judge Motz, rather than address troubling concerns about the fact that Malibu (or its lawyers) apparently pays the key witness in these cases pursuant to an “oral contingency agreement.”
I know for a fact that this comparison immensely pisses off Lipscomb, and for a reason: if one hears nothing but lie, all such allegation can cause is a mere shrug, but a truthful, precise analogy usually hits the nerve. I commend Morgan for calling the things as they are: Lipscomb and Prenda are fruits of the same poisonous tree.
As you noted, Pietz accuses Lipscomb and his local counsel Jon Hoppe of blatant forum shopping. Indeed, even a colette would understand why the trolls, being confronted on the contingency fee issue, hastily dismissed the case assigned to Judge J. Frederick Motz, a judge who undoubtedly thinks that contingency fee agreement with a key witness is not kosher:
As Judge Motz once noted of the problem posed by deals to pay witnesses a contingent fee, “[f]inancial arrangements that provide incentives for the falsification and exaggeration of testimony threaten the very integrity of the judicial process which depends upon the truthfulness of witnesses.”
The unethical agreement is not the only issue here: IPP/Guardaley relationship is being questioned, purported reliability of Guardaley’s methods is called out, a relative unimportance of the “plaintiff” XArt in the conspiracy is finally addressed, and some other relevant questions are raised. You really need to read the entire motion. It’s 58 pages long, but it is worth your time. It is a very tough task to annotate this work, and I had no choice but to omit some really important points.
So what does this motion ask for?
- As to the preliminary matters,
- to allow the Doe to formally intervene, thus avoiding trolls’ hallmark argument that putative defendants have no standing;
- to consolidate the cases, obviously;
- to stay subpoena until this motion is ruled upon.
- As to the merits, Malibu should be ordered to show cause on three factual issues and a resulting legal one, as follows:
- confirm whether IPP and Fieser were engaged as contingent fee witnesses and detail the nature and extent of the relationship;
- given the substantial documentary evidence suggesting otherwise, explain the statement made on the record to Judges Titus and Grimm denying that IPP is a front for Guardaley, and the apparent attempts to disguise Guardaley’s behind-the-scenes role in these cases;
- explain the conflicting statements about whether it was IPP or Excipio software used to collect the data this case is based on; and
- assuming that IPP and Fieser do or did have a contingent interest in the outcome of this litigation and that IPP is really a front for Guardaley, and that Malibu has been less than forthright about all this, address what effect such champertous arrangements and lack of candor should have on this and other similarly situated cases, in view of Movant’s arguments in the Motion For An OSC that preclusion and dismissal should result.
On 4/10/2014 Hoppe moved for extension of time, which was granted. Today, 4/14/2014, Morgan Pietz responded to that motion (Exhibits A and B). Pay attention to Exhibit A (Hoppe’s email to Verizon’s legal compliance department): you will like it:
Dear Ms. Barron:
That is flatly outrageous! Your attorneys are not empowered to functionally rule on Mr. Pietz’s request for a stay prior to the Court ruling on the same. I expect full compliance with all of our subpoenas unless and until the Court orders a stay of the same. I would hate to see the goodwill we have enjoyed breakdown over this issue. Please put me in touch with your counsel immediately!
– Jon A. Hoppe, Esquire
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
This clown signs his misguided rants as “Esquire,” is if he were a real attorney.