Guardaley | Lipscomb | Voltage

Good Man Productions, Inc.: a zombie troll plaintiff

A copyright shakedown outfit lead by M. Keith Lipscomb and his German counterparts recently filed 99 Bittorent cases “on behalf” of Good Man Productions, Inc. Those lawsuits were filed in eight districts in November-December 2014, and the plaintiff alleged infringement of a direct-to-DVD movie Good Man featuring Steven Seagal:

On 1/14/2015 it came to our attention that querying Good Man Productions, Inc. information on the web portal of California Secretary of State revealed that this entity was dissolved. As soon as I reported it, the company suddenly re-appeared, albeit with a different entity number:


Naturally, we were skeptical about the fact that registering a new corporation with the same name would solve a potentially fatal problem. So I postponed further investigations pending the Certificate of Dissolution request. Now I have it (thanks to a community member who purchased a copy):

 

Phillip B. GoldfinePhillip B. Goldfine,
a man who can shed some
light on the GMP dissolution

So, Good Man Productions, Inc., despite being a plaintiff in 99 cases, was voluntarily dissolved on 12/22/2014. Note that Jordan Rushie filed corporate disclosure statements in all “his” cases around that time, in one instancetwo days after the dissolution.

If not for us publicizing this finding, the lawsuits would likely continue with a ghost plaintiff and its ghostly standing. Re-registration on 1/15/2015 was meant to mend the situation. But did it? In a doubt, I posted a question on Avvo:

Can a dissolved copyright holder corporation continue litigating as a plaintiff in infringement cases?

A CA corporation filed dozens of copyright infringement lawsuits in Nov-Dec 2014. On 12/22/2014 it was voluntarily dissolved. Nonetheless, the cases continue, and the courts were not notified.
Are any laws or regulations broken here?

After those who actually steer the litigation made aware of publicity in this matter, they re-registered this corporation on 1/16/2015. The name and the agent remained the same, yet the entity number is different.

So the second question: did this move “cure” the issue? Is it a matter of interest for the tax authorities?

One of the answers from an experienced business attorney from California, Frank Chen, confirmed what we suspected (emphasis is mine):

Nope. I assume the corporation was voluntarily dissolved (as opposed to being suspended or involuntarily dissolved through a court decree). A suspended corporation can be revived by paying back taxes, penalties and interest, and filing back tax returns. However, a dissolved corporation cannot be revived. A dissolved corporation would no longer have standing to pursue a lawsuit. Re-registration creates a new corporation, but even if the name and agent for service of process are the same, the entity is not the same entity which was the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The move does not “cure” the issue.

How should we call a corporation that can’t be revived but nonetheless walks around? A zombie troll I guess…

Some of the Good Man cases were already settled. Is it a rhetorical question to ask where the money went?

While I think that defense attorneys should try to leverage this information, it is far from certain that the lawsuits will be killed. Witnessing how much leeway US judges provide to attorneys (including copyright blackmailers), I’m pessimistic about any impact this apparent fraud will have on these and similar cases. The plaintiff was voluntarily dissolved a month after filing a blizzard of lawsuits? Oops, your Honor, here is a brand new corporation; I hope you won’t look into the details…

The travesty is that defendants don’t enjoy this kind of lenience from trolls. If Mr. Lipscomb was sincere in his laments that his goal is to stop piracy, he would kindly ask first instead of demanding arm and leg from hapless file-sharers and innocents alike. A warning can go a long way: for example, according to the Canadian ISPs’ statistics, 89% stop infringing activity after the first warning. But such warnings would actually help reducing piracy — an outcome hardy desired by the drivers and passengers of the Bittorent shakedown gravy train.

Update

2/10/2015

Unbelievable arrogance! Instead of dismissing the fraudulent Good Man lawsuits, Lipscomb filed 11 more in the FLSD!

2/11/2015

Another attorney, Matthew Howard Schwartz from Georgia answered my question on AVVO:

If the dissolution of the corporation was completed, it cannot be revived and it cannot continue as a plaintiff in a lawsuit. If the dissolution was merely “in process,” but was later withdrawn before completion, it can still prosecute its claims in the existing lawsuit assuming it remains in good standing with the Secretary of State’s office and the CA Franchise Tax Board. Merely being in default with the Secretary of State or the Franchise Tax Board are curable conditions — but a full-fledged corporate dissolution is irrevocable.

Assuming the corporate dissolution was perfected, the current lawsuit should be subject to dismissal. However, the next issue to be considered would be “what was the disposition of both the copyright and the copyright infringement claims in the corporation’s dissolution?” Both the copyright and the attendant infringement claims are ASSETS that could have been transferred to another party by way of an assignment. So, even though the current lawsuit would be subject to dismissal, you may still have to be concerned about a new lawsuit that could be filed by an assignee of the dissolved corporation (this would be a person or an entity to whom the plaintiff corporation transferred its copyright and attendant infringement claims). However, in that event, you may have a statute of limitations defense available to a new lawsuit filed by the assignee. Furthermore, depending upon the circumstances of the dissolution, you may be able to show that the copyright and attendant infringement claims were not properly transferred to the putative assignee. For example, if the corporation did not properly satisfy all the claims of its creditors during the dissolution process, there may be a question about whether the assignee actually owns all rights, title and interest in the copyright. There are several possibilities for defeating the assignee’s claims under these circumstances.

2/13/2015

I just learned that yesterday Mr. Rushie filed five Good Man Productions, Inc. lawsuits after I brought to Flynn|Wirkus|Young partners’ attention that this “client” is a faux, voluntarily dismissed entity that has no standing to sue. One thing is to learn about the fatal problem after the fact, another one is to show the middle finger to the court and knowingly continue filing fraudulent cases. I call it Chutzpah.

Flynn Wirkus Young

So, all this begs the question whether Mr. Rushie’s employer cares about its reputation or not. I’m leaning towards the latter.

2/14/2014

I procured one of the new Rushie’s complaints. It is word-to-word as the ones filed in December.

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Discussion

18 responses to ‘Good Man Productions, Inc.: a zombie troll plaintiff

  1. Blatantly obvious that Plaintiff does not exist. So who exactly are all these attorneys working for? It does speak to the degree of integrity these attorneys possess or should we say lack there of.

  2. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/848

    21 U.S. Code § 848 – Continuing criminal enterprise

    (c) “Continuing criminal enterprise” defined
    For purposes of subsection (a) of this section, a person is engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise if—
    (1) he violates any provision of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter the punishment for which is a felony, and
    (2) such violation is a part of a continuing series of violations of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter—
    (A) which are undertaken by such person in concert with five or more other persons with respect to whom such person occupies a position of organizer, a supervisory position, or any other position of management, and
    (B) from which such person obtains substantial income or resources.

    =================

    I’m not making any accusations, just noting that someone somewhere supervises five or more persons from which he obtains substantial income or resources.

  3. Let’s hope that where these cases have been filed that the Defendants hire counsel or even they themselves point out to the Judge this little issue. It really depends on where these cases are filed and if the Judge actually cares enough to read these filings instead of rubber stamping them and moving along.

    Let’s hope the Judges will do the right thing if this is pointed out to them and not just blindly accept what the trolls have to say is gospel.

  4. Re: the non-existent client…….does anyone know how to file some kind of “judicial notice” pro se or as a friend of the court for each case…..maybe an EFF or some other legal/lawyer who understands and is disgusted the troll tactics, that reads these boards?? Hitting every case that this troll scum is involved with would be good. Costs? IDK.

    Sounds like a good way to get the ball rolling on sanctions and any other possible criminal or civil penalties that are so deserved by this f’d up troll. sure seems it might turn a number of judges against these scum and their extortionate tactics.

  5. This remind’s me of the AF Holdings where there was issues with the copyright and signature, but yet Steele pressed on with the lawsuit despite all the issues.

    I am almost having a sense of Deja-vu here with the fact that even though I am of the opinion there is issues with the entity initiating the action, it isn’t stopping them from proceeding anyways. It would seem when the trolls are in a dash for the cash that little facts like this get in the way.

    You could almost look at the Lamberson case as well where Vandermay had issues there with the lawsuit even after those issues came to light the trolls still pressed on and that even included the 8 defaults that were hanging in the wind until a decision came down from Judge Rice on the initial problem lawsuit, the trolls still pressed on with trying to scoop some cash from the defaults.

    Look at the trolls track record here and you will see it is all a game of odds, they don’t really care in my opinion if they get to discovery, all they need is to get the court to grant them the order for ISP subscriber information so they can start pressuring for a settlement from the subscriber of that ISP.

    They more often then not get that order for the ISP subscriber information, once they get it is game on to get that cash, the worse that can happen is that if a Doe gets a Lawyer, they can always run and dismiss.

    The Doe or Defendants lawyer would have to bring it up to the judge that the entity suing Doe had no right to sue, but this wouldn’t be an issue for the trolls because they would have got that subscriber info before hand and would have been putting the pressure on to get the settlement out of the ISP subscriber.

    The trolls are playing the odds that they will get a settlement before a court is informed about any problems from the DOE defendant or their counsel. Isn’t it nice to see how well the trolls have gamed the system to effect their business model.

    My opinion of course.

  6. I have not watched “A Good Man” (and I doubt I ever will), but based on the synopsis, and on the impression from a couple of other Seagal’s films I did watch, it’s the same popular and dangerously reckless Hollywood’s chewing gum: “if you are a good and righteous man, you don’t have to act lawfully: kill the motherfuckers, let them burn in hell!” In other words, ends justify the means, even if the means are patently illegal.

    So, I wonder if the trolls thought well before targeting those who are likely receptive to the “ideology” I just described. What can go wrong?

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