“R & D Film 1, LLC” Battleground Districts.

The Divide - New Copyright Trolls
For those involved in the R & D Film 1, LLC  cases across the US, I wanted to give you a heads up as to the “state of affairs” of those cases.

I have been watching R & D Film 1, LLC (a.k.a., “R&D Film 1“) since they began suing defendants for downloading the copyrighted title “The Divide.” [Whether they themselves have made ANY ATTEMPTS to take down the offending torrents using tools provided to them in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is not the topic of this article.] 

R&D Film 1 lawsuits showed up in July, 2012, and now 37 weeks later, I am surprised they are still alive.

DRAMA IN THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI

The R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-35 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01743) case has shaken a few people up, because it is unclear which defendants were dismissed, and which were named and served.

In January, Judge Jean Hamilton invoked Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(m), which gave R & D Film 1, LLC 120 days to name and serve defendants. As you know, this is a tool judges have at their disposal to dispose of cases which get stale — they are not forced to dismiss stale cases. This deadline according to the judge’s calculations passed on 3/29/2013, but according to the plaintiff attorney’s calculations, it passed on 4/9/2013.

On 4/11/2013, the judge issued an “Order to Show Cause” why this lawsuit should not be dismissed, plaintiff attorney Joel Samuels responded, “but judge, we DID name and serve certain defendants,” and then Samuels dismissed everyone else [Does 1,6,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,30, and 35] without prejudice. Obviously we haven’t seen the list of who was “named and served,” but I must believe that Samuels wasn’t lying to the judge. That would be a bad idea.

So this case is still in play, and our firm is watching it carefully because what happens in one R & D Film 1, LLC case affects their other cases. Of note in Missouri — these cases are beginning to age, and I suspect more judges will be imposing FRCP Rule 4(m). Already, in EACH OF THE CASES, the other plaintiff attorney Matthew Cutler has filed a “Request for an extension of time to name and serve defendants,” which have been granted by the respective judges. In his next round of requests, they may not be so forgiving.

CASES FILED BY MATTHEW L. CUTLER OF HERNESS & DICKEY IN THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI:
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-33 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01741)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-39 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01742)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-35 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01743)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-14 (Case No. 4:12-cv-01754)

WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON: NO DRAMA.

As you know, on January 8th, 2013, Richard Symmes sued a total of 315 John Doe Defendants in Washington. I wrote about it here in my “(WAWD) R&D Film 1, LLC hires Richard Symmes to file against 315 Defendants” article.

In the R & D Film 1, LLC cases in the Western District of Washington, the story is the same for all the cases. Judge Lasnik has taken over all the cases, and he has allowed R&D Film 1 to serve the ISPs with subpoenas. At this point I have no indication as to whether Judge Lasnik is actively copyright-troll friendly or whether he is simply unifying the proceedings and allowing all cases to proceed.

Interestingly enough, all the defendants appear to be Comcast subscribers, and notwithstanding the Six Strikes System (not to confuse Ira Siegel/CEG-TEK’s “CopyrightSettlements.com” [2017 UPDATE: CEG-TEK is now known as “RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT” (RIGHTSENFORCEMENT.COM)] system and the lawsuits of the copyright trolls), Comcast is forwarding the subpoenas to their subscribers. The problem is that all defendants here are IN WASHINGTON (meaning, jurisdiction is fine), so everyone calling me is asking about a motion to quash, but quashing is not the answer since they live in the state in which they were sued.

CASES FILED BY RICHARD SYMMES IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
(ALL ALIVE AND WELL):

R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-46 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00050)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-45 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00051)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-41 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00052)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-22 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00053)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-51 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00054)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-50 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00055)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-44 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00056)
R & D Film 1 LLC v. Does 1-16 (Case No. 2:13-cv-00057)

ILLINOIS NORTHERN DISTRICT — “IN AND OUT” LIKE A BANDIT:

In the Northern District of Illinois, R&D Film 1 plaintiff attorneys Michael Hierl and Todd Parkhurt are literally “making away like bandits” with their quick “in-and-out” strategy in the courtroom.

As soon as either of these lawyers get the subscriber information from the ISP, they hit the John Doe Defendants, and they hit them hard, soliciting a number of settlements. As soon as they reach a certain pre-determined number of settlements, they immediately dismiss the case and get out of the court as quickly as possible. No judge oversight — they are “in and out” like a flash before any judge notices what they’ve done.

This is the same pattern for EVERY ONE OF THEIR CASES.  I have left my notes next to their cases (below) because I thought the pattern was telling of their strategy.

CASES FILED BY TODD S. PARKHURST & MICHAEL A. HIERL OF HUGHES SOCOL PIERS RESNICK & DYM LTD. IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS:
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-52 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05810) closed 4/4
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05817) closed 4/11
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-57 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05821) closed 4/17
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-62 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05822) closed 4/10
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-36 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05823) closed 4/18
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-88 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05825) not yet dismissed; last hearing was supposed to happen on 1/23. didn’t.
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-29 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05827) closed 4/17
R & D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-20 (Case No. 1:12-cv-05828) closed 4/18

R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-37 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09036) Still alive; Judge Matthew Kennelly denying motions to quash. Status hearing held and continued to 6/4/2013
R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-92 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09039) Still alive; Status hearing held on 3/19/2013 and continued to 4/23/2013.
R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-103 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09041) closed 3/20
R&D Film 1, LLC v. Does 1-66 (Case No. 1:12-cv-09043) Still alive; ORDER granting motion for leave to take discovery prior to Rule 26(f) conference.

NEW JERSEY DISTRICT — ALL CASES “DEAD”

New Jersey is where copyright troll cases die a quick death. If you remember, all of the Century Media, Ltd., Baseprotect UG, Ltd. cases, along with all of Jay McDaniel’s bittorrent cases were in NJ and they are now dead.

All the New Jersey R&D Film 1, LLC Cases were assigned to Judge Noel L. Hillman and referred to Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio. They have dealt all cases (below) a swift death by requiring that local counsel Stamatios Stamoulis explain to the court why each of these cases should not be SEVERED AND DISMISSED for improper joinder.

Essentially, these cases will fail because New Jersey does not buy into the “bittorrent swarm” theory that every downloader was part of the “same transaction or occurrence” as is required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

CASES FILED BY STAMATIOS STAMOULIS IN THE NEW JERSEY DISTRICT:
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-28 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00482)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-103 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00483)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-104 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00484)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-105 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00485)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-31 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00486)
R & D Film 1, LLC v. John Does 1-28 (Case No. 1:13-cv-00487)

NOTE: NJ’s Dragon Quest Productions LLC v. John Does 1-100 (Case No. 1:12-cv-06611) will be affected (and likely killed) as a result of this as well.

In sum, it’s a battle ground, and R & D Films 1, LLC (sometimes spelled R&D Films 1, LLC in the case filings) is fighting to gain as many settlements as is possible. The fact that an Eastern District of Missouri attorney told the court that he named and served defendants indicates to me that R&D Film 1 is willing (maybe) to pay their attorneys to take this fight to the discovery level, if the copyright troll attorney is up for the challenge. Some clearly are not.

PERSONAL NOTE: I am waiting to see whether people were actually named and served (or not); I assume the lawyer’s statement is true because a lawyer would never lie to a court, would they? (#Prenda)

Congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC defendants dismissed from the Nu Image, Inc. v. Does 1-3,932 (FLMD) case.

Congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients and former defendants who were dismissed from the Nu Image, Inc. v. Does 1-3,932 (Case No. 2:11-cv-00545) case in the Middle District of Florida.

We’ve known that this case has been “dead” since December, when the court denied the plaintiff’s request for an extension of time to name and serve defendants. I was surprised that they did not instantly dismiss the case months ago, but it lagged on with almost no activity.

I suppose the timing of this case is fortuitous for those following the Prenda Law Inc. scandals, because the judge in this case is US District Judge John E. Steele, having no relation to John Steele of Prenda Law Inc.

A few months ago, I referred to this case as an “abandoned, dead floating ship.” Even then I had no idea that the timing of the death of this case by Judge John Steele would coincide so nicely with Judge Wright’s hearing just the day beforehand.

For those that want to know what actually happened here, the politics were very simple. Copyright troll attorney Jeffrey Weaver of Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver, PLLC (now “Dunlap Weaver, PLLC sans former partner Grubb”) took this case after his main attorney Nicholas Kurtz left the firm leaving the oldest copyright troll without teeth to go after defendants. Nu Image, Inc. came in wanting to sue, and so Jeffrey Weaver took the case. Almost 300 documents, 79 weeks, and 2 days later, the case is dead.

Congratulations again to all 3,932 defendants who have been dismissed from the case.

Link to the dismissal order.

The 12 minute hearing and the end of Prenda Law Inc.

While the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC and its clients were celebrating “freedom,” I am sure some of my readers will be wondering the fate of Prenda Law Inc. / Steele Hansmeier, PLLC / John Steele / Paul Duffy / Mark Lutz / Brett Gibbs et al. after their hearing today before Judge Wright.  Today was the big day where the world of those who have been injured by Prenda Law Inc.’s activities looked on to see their demise.

In sum, the hearing was short, and John Steele and his “gang” showed up as they were ordered to, but they decided to plead the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution rather than answer Judge Wright’s questions.  As a result, the judge did not allow them the pleasure of “pleading the fifth” as he appears to have no interest in lawyer gamesmanship.  Thus, after 12 minutes, he walked off the bench and ended the hearing.

While there was no immediate gratification for those who flew over to attend the hearing, in my opinion, “Popehat” described their fate better than I ever could:

“Prenda Law may still be standing. But it’s dead.”

I would be very surprised if I saw any further activities coming from this law firm. I expect that in a few days (if not sooner), Judge Otis Wright will write an order which will make any copyright troll shake in their boots, and it is my hopes that this order will serve as a warning shot to any of the other copyright trolls who go after individual downloaders using the tactics and corporate structures that Prenda employed.

It is my opinion (although I *am* still cautious until I actually see Judge Wright’s order,) this will likely be the end of Prenda Law Inc., John Steele, and Paul Duffy, as I expect that this will evolve into inquiries which will endanger their law licenses. I don’t think we’ll see the end of them, per se, as it is not so difficult to find a hungry lawyer who will agree to have his hand held while he lets others practice under his law license in the shadows.

On the other hand, I believe the result of this case (and Judge Wright’s influence over the the future penalties of unlawful copyright enforcement tactics) will force the bittorrent cases to evolve from its current state (which comprise mere pre-trial settlement “or else” tactics) to actually taking clients to court on the merits.  Also, while the inquiry in this case surrounded plaintiff copyright trolls who “invent” corporate figureheads, who seem to falsify copyright assignment documents, and who structure their business tactics to allow their activities to proceed with limited affects on the attorneys furthering their scheme) no doubt, this will be a damaging blow to those copyright holders who try to enforce their copyrights against individual downloaders.

Articles on the topic:
Forbes: Porn Copyright Lawyer John Steele, Who Has Sued More Than 20,000 People, Is Now The One In Legal Trouble

ArsTechnica: Prenda lawyers take Fifth Amendment; judge storms out: “We’re done” — Those in attendance describe Judge Otis Wright as “incandescently angry.”

TechDirt: Team Prenda Shows Up In Court, Pleads The Fifth… Angry Judge Ends Hearing In 12 Minutes

TorrentFreak: Prenda Copyright Trolls Plead the Fifth

Fight Copyright Trolls (SJD): Prenda trolls appear in Judge Wright’s courtroom only to plead the Fifth. Furious judge ends the hearing after 12 minutes

Follow-Up Articles:

ArsTechnica: Judge smash: Prenda’s porn-trolling days are over

Popehat: Prenda Law’s Attorneys Take The Fifth Rather Than Answer Judge Wright’s Questions