Judge Dumps Yet Another Mass Infringement Suit In Response To Single, Pro Se Motion To Quash

from the quashed-indeed dept

The various lawyers who have jumped on the bandwagon of mass lawsuits against people accused of sharing certain porn productions have been finding that courts are becoming more aggressive in dismissing most of the defendants due to clear abuse of the law by the lawyers to file a single case against so many defendants. We’ve seen a bunch of such cases have all but a single defendant dismissed. However, it looks like one judge in Illinois, Judge Milton Shadur, went beyond even that in dismissing an entire case against all 300 defendants in response to an amateur pro se motion to quash from one of the anonymous defendants. Of course, we’ve talked about some “kits” that have been put online for such defendants to file motions to quash and some of the folks in our comments insisted that such motions would never work. Oops.

In this particular case, brought by one of the “new breed” of P2P mass lawsuit lawyers, John Steele (who was a divorce lawyer before jumping in to these types of cases) sued 300 defendants on behalf of porn producer, CP Productions. The judge seems to think the whole thing was clearly unwarranted, and had made it clear to Steele earlier that he didn’t think much of the case at all. Steele pushed forward, but once the motion to quash came in, the judge dumped the whole case, going with his initial intuition that the case never should have been brought in the first place. Ars Technica summarizes the judge’s reasoning:


“Among other things, the newest motion demonstrates that there is no justification for dragging into an Illinois federal court, on a wholesale basis, a host of unnamed defendants over whom personal jurisdiction clearly does not exist and–more importantly–as to whom CP?s counsel could readily have ascertained that fact,” the judge said, apparently referring to the fact the IP lookup services would have shown the lawyers that most defendants were unlikely to be Illinois residents.

In addition, the judge saw the joinder of 300 defendants as little more than a ploy for saving cash. “No predicate has been shown for thus combining 300 separate actions on the cheap,” he added. “If CP had sued the 300 claimed infringers separately for their discrete infringements, the filing fees alone would have aggregated $105,000 rather than $350.”

The judge also noted Steele’s amazingly fast response to his own initial concerns about the case, which he said seemed to suggest that Steele already knew why the judge would be concerned and had all of his arguments ready to go. To the judge, this showed that Steele knew quite well the “obvious problems” of these types of lawsuits. Nice to see more judges realizing that these lawsuits are a massive abuse of the legal system to squeeze money out of people.

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Comments on “Judge Dumps Yet Another Mass Infringement Suit In Response To Single, Pro Se Motion To Quash”

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89 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Maybe the Judge saw the movies and decided they sucked so bad, or better yet the Judges alias was one of them mentioned. You gotta be careful suing for porn because all kind of people watch porn. It’s the dirty little secret that Granma’s watch, Judges watch, we know politicians watch it and all manner of good christians, muslims and a little bit of everyone else watch it.

Anonymoussays:

Sadly, the judge fails to prove the plaintiff with any way to move forward with the suit. The defendants are Does, and until the actual identity of the Does are known, it is as valid to file in Illinois as it is to file in Hawaii.

The Judge’s decision to quash is premature, because he doesn’t have the information to say if the Does are in their jurisdiction or not.

I smell an appeal.

harbingerofdoomsays:

Re: Re:

well, apparently the judge disagrees with your idea that its valid to file without the identity being known when its rather easy to hit arin and show what state the majority of these IP addresses are going to be located in.

which was, ya know…. the entire point the judge was making.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

ARIN would only show the home address of the company owning them. Example, he.net (Hurricane Electric) blocks all come back to one single mailing address, but they have service in almost every state. Exactly what state should you file in?

Comcast does the same, many of it’s blocks are attributed to their head office, but used in other states. Where do you file?

If the company does business in the state, there is potential the IPs are in that state. It would be up to the ISP to show otherwise, no?

Josh in CharlotteNCsays:

The Judge’s decision to quash is premature, because he doesn’t have the information to say if the Does are in their jurisdiction or not.

Incorrect. There are dozens of IP lookup services that will give a reasonable geographic location of an IP address. Ever wonder how banner ads are able to localize to your city or at least one close to you?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

And you wonder why they are wrong (they often have me on the other half of the world)?

IPs are often held by an ISP with a main office in one state, and actually used in other states. Until discovery is actually made and the names revealed, there is no absolute manner to confirm this.

What the judge should have done is allow discovery, and once discovery shows that the defendants are not in their jurisdiciton, pull the plug.

I would also be interested to see this lawyer re-file a single case with a single defendant and get it in front of the same judge, just to see what excuse the judge would come up with next for not allowing discovery.

Josh in CharlotteNCsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Never said they were perfect. However, in most cases, they give reasonable results. It takes a few seconds per IP and the lawyer filing the cases did not take the time for that, but was ready immediately for a improper joinder argument from one of the Does – that’s what the judge is saying.

I would also be interested to see this lawyer re-file a single case with a single defendant and get it in front of the same judge, just to see what excuse the judge would come up with next for not allowing discovery.

Assuming the lawyer picks one case that is most likely within the judge’s jurisdiction, I see no reason the judge would not allow it to continue.

But there’s only a slim chance the lawyer would bother. The entire point of the mass lawsuits are to extort money from many people extremely quickly without going through a lawsuit where individuals would have a chance to defend themselves.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sadly, we will never know if they actually have jurisdiction or not, because the ISPs themselves are dragging their heels and being very slow to answer to legal summons for information.

It is a situation that isn’t tolerable in the long run. You can expect legislative change in this area soon.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sadly, we will never know if they actually have jurisdiction or not, because the ISPs themselves are dragging their heels and being very slow to answer to legal summons for information.

Why is it the ISP’s problem again, given Section 230 safe harbors?

They could put up probable cause – except the plaintiff doesn’t have that beyond “IP address http://www.xxx.yyy.zzz was used to possibly infringe.”

That may give you an endpoint, but not who did the alleged infringement. And really? Unless the claimant could produce something beyond “we think this might have happened” I’d tell them to pound sand, too.

Josh in CharlotteNCsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sadly, we will never know if they actually have jurisdiction or not, because the ISPs themselves are dragging their heels and being very slow to answer to legal summons for information.

So you think that civil copyright infringement IP lookups are more important than emergency law enforcement requests where lives may be in danger?

What else is the ISP to do when they are bombarded with thousands of those requests? Hire dozens of people, whose sole job it is to process those requests, and pass the costs along to its customers? Do you want your internet service to become more expensive because of companies that can’t adapt to the market and what customers want?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What the judge should have done is allow discovery, and once discovery shows that the defendants are not in their jurisdiciton, pull the plug.

Exactly my understanding as well. The fact is, the Doe defendants are not even named defendants yet. The plaintiff has not asserted personal jurisdiction over the defendant since he hasn’t named them in the suit.

US Copyright Group made a couple of good filings on this point.

One is here: http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/uscg_v_people/Achte-neunte%20OSC%20response%20re%20personal%20juris.pdf

There’s an even better filing, written by Thomas Dunlap, I believe, but I can’t find it at the moment.

Anonymoussays:

Of course, we’ve talked about some “kits” that have been put online for such defendants to file motions to quash and some of the folks in our comments insisted that such motions would never work. Oops.

I love when you link to one of my comments. I actually had better comments you could have linked to where I said these motions to quash will always fail.

I don’t have time to look up this case, but I’m curious what was pleaded exactly and what exactly the judge said. If the judge is saying that there is clearly no jurisdiction, I believe that would be a reversible error on appeal. The point of allowing discovery is to identify the defendants’ actual location. Until that’s done, you cannot say that they are not in the court’s jurisdiction.

It’s interesting to say the least, and as usual, I love it when I’m proved to be wrong. Somebody’s motion to quash apparently worked. I’ll take my crow with a side of coleslaw, please. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jessesays:

“The judge also noted Steele’s amazingly fast response to his own initial concerns about the case, which he said seemed to suggest that Steele already knew why the judge would be concerned and had all of his arguments ready to go.”

To be fair, it kind of sucks if you’re penalized for being too prepared. “Wow! That was an amazing case! I rule against you because your complete preparation for every contingency indicates that you know the defendant’s case is fundamentally flawed.”

btr1701says:

Re: Re:

To be fair, it kind of sucks if you’re
penalized for being too prepared.

I agree with the ruling in general but this bit kind of rubbed me the wrong way, too. One of the basic things they taught us in law school was to be prepared to make every conceivable argument and for every contingency you can think of.

To be dinged for doing your job the way you’re supposed to do it and they way you’ve been trained to do it isn’t quite kosher.

However, the judge’s point that the lawyer managed to find time to be prepared with these contingency arguments but couldn’t find the time to do a basic IP lookup on each address is a valid one.

JohnSteelesays:

facts please

Hello everyone,

1. the judge ruled on the john doe motion 48 hours after it was filed and before we had an opportunity to respond. That is extremely unusual, and has not happened in any other “BitTorrent” case. I will refrain from posting my thoughts about such an ‘unusual’ practice.

2. All the people that were named can still be sued by CP, as the case was dismissed without prejudice. In fact, if the pirates do not settle, that will be happening within the statutory period (we still have 2+ years). Why do we wait? All I can say is that parties contacted by us are put on notice they have a legal obligation to maintain the computer equipment and records until trial.

3. I have a feeling that tomorrow, there will be a new case filed on behalf of CP. I will be more than happy to post the case number when it is assigned.

4. The costs for ISP’s are not passed on to customers, but rather to the Plaintiffs in these cases.

5. These same issues have been brought before roughly 12 judges just for our cases, and because one rules for the pirates, people think its the end of these cases. Does that make sense?

6. Stay Tuned. I can promise we are not sitting around over here.

Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re: facts please

1 – I am unaware of anything vetting your IP gathering “system” to target these people. Given the relative ease with which a laser printer was “framed” on multiple occasions for sharing movies using the bittorrent protocol, what part of your magical system protects against false identification? I know, I know it is a proprietary system so you can not divulge anything, funny how that lets you pretend it is all knowing.

2 – Having not seen your “settlement” agreement, but having seen the ones currently used by Liberty Media Holdings and Evan Stone, is yours designed to extract further payments in the future like LMH’s or is it a blanket protection as offered by Stone?

3 – When it was made clear in the USCG filings the Judge was bothered by the claims there was no way to get the geographical information for the Does, when it was clear such technology does exist, why did you not avail yourself of such a technology to avoid any chance of your case being kicked for lack of personal jurisdiction? Or were you expecting to use the “Dunlap Punt” and suggest that the Does might have had business in Illinois and that argument would work this time?

4 – Do you hold the unmasked account holders responsible for the actions of others who may have accessed their internet connection without authorization? Or do you think labeling an 80 yr old, upsold a wifi router installed by the ISP, a pirate merely based on IP address lookup a good business practice?

5 – Do you plan to do any discovery to make sure the person named is the responsible party? Or had you not planned beyond sending a demand letter threatening to label them as fetish porn user publicly to extract a settlement?

6 – Do you actually have enough staff to pursue each of these cases, or were you just expecting a good settlement rate?

7 – Are you going to follow the RIAA tactic of insisting someone without a computer is the responsible party, drag the case out and when discovering a visiting grandchild then dropping the case and filing against that party? Remember she won her legal fees, and that would cut into your profit margin.

8 – It is nice how you label the accused as pirates, on what basis do you make that claim as your accusation carries as much weight as me calling you an asshat before I get to know you. Referring to people as criminals before there is a factual finding of guilt seems to be a bad move by someone who understands slander and liable laws.

9 – By what authority do you demand the accused maintain their computer? Technology is a fickle thing, or are you hoping you can spin a hard drive failure into “evidence” of guilt to bolster your IP address identification?

10 – Given the flaming failure that is ACS:Law do you now regret pursuing this line of questionable work, or are you so blinded by the dollar signs that ethics and rules are for other people?

11 – Given the resistance of many of the people targeted in these settlement shakedowns, have you reconsidered thinking they would all just roll over and pay you? Wouldn’t a nice cheating spouse case be a relief about now?

12 – Have you verified the proper filing of the copyrights on the “films” you represent, or have you fallen into the Evan Stone trap of cutting corners hoping you avoid being caught?

Sadly for you all you currently have is the threat of a forthcoming lawsuit,which at best could sink your whole settlement farm, at least LMH can prop up their “millions won” banner to scare people into settling. Or do you already have a sheep lined up to fall on their sword to create the illusion you’ve won a case to scare people into settling?

vivaelamorsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: facts please

“9 – By what authority do you demand the accused maintain their computer?”

That one puzzled me too, requesting someone keep ‘evidence’ for up to two years is insane. Effectively, if you took such an ‘order’ seriously then you would no longer be able to use your existing equipment at all.

Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: facts please

I’ve seen this wording before in the Stone settlement agreement. It is trying to unleash the boogeyman in peoples minds that if there is any chance you are guilty, they will find it so it is just easier to pay now.

Given the information used in many of these cases is
IP address, MAC address, Client used it would be a stretch to get any court to demand the turning over of a machine based on such a flimsy foundation.

The IP address record could be wrong, an inaccurate timestamp could have placed the wrong person in the crosshairs. Or in the case of Stones CDA if Greene fumble fingered a number on his keypad.

MAC addresses are changeable things, not really a good identifier of anyone.

Client used, I know for a fact that Stone reported his targets using clients they were not using.

The “systems” in place are meant to dazzle people who do not understand how technology works.

What these extortion mills are counting on is an uninformed judiciary, and sheep ripe to be sheared who will believe anything the “lawyer” tells them. They forget rule 1, your not in court, your not under oath and the lawyers duty is to make his client money, not protect your rights. The duty to check the validity of the claims falls on the person targeted, who more often than not just wants to avoid the public smearing of their name guilty or not.

The lawyers will tell you otherwise, I will point out those people wrongly charged as pedophile, completely exonerated who still have to live in fear of someone finding the headline and trying to burn them out of their home again.

Oh and Steele one more question, did you at least use a modified client that did not upload? Otherwise you have placed your system in the bad position of contributing to the distribution of copyrighted material making them as culpable as you claim your targets all are?

vivaelamorsays:

Re: Re: facts please

“the judge ruled on the john doe motion 48 hours after it was filed and before we had an opportunity to respond”

I’m not a lawyer; is the judge obliged to give you an opportunity to respond? It appears that the judge had already queried you on the issue and heard your arguments.

“All the people that were named can still be sued by CP”

Was anyone suggesting otherwise?

“because one rules for the pirates, people think its the end of these cases”

I think their faith in the prevailence of sanity is a more likely reason.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: facts please

Hello everyone,

1. the judge ruled on the john doe motion 48 hours after it was filed and before we had an opportunity to respond. That is extremely unusual, and has not happened in any other “BitTorrent” case. I will refrain from posting my thoughts about such an ‘unusual’ practice.

2. All the people that were named can still be sued by CP, as the case was dismissed without prejudice. In fact, if the pirates do not settle, that will be happening within the statutory period (we still have 2+ years). Why do we wait? All I can say is that parties contacted by us are put on notice they have a legal obligation to maintain the computer equipment and records until trial.

3. I have a feeling that tomorrow, there will be a new case filed on behalf of CP. I will be more than happy to post the case number when it is assigned.

4. The costs for ISP’s are not passed on to customers, but rather to the Plaintiffs in these cases.

5. These same issues have been brought before roughly 12 judges just for our cases, and because one rules for the pirates, people think its the end of these cases. Does that make sense?

6. Stay Tuned. I can promise we are not sitting around over here.

Thanks for the update, Mr. Steele. It is quite curious if the judge would not allow you to oppose the motion that the judge ruled on. Smells like reversible error to me.

I agree that everyone’s getting a little too excited by one ruling, a ruling that may not withstand appeal.

Please do post the new case number when you have it. I’ll be following along from the cheap seats.

Good luck to you!

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: facts please

Judge Milton Shadur is a legend. He is respected and loved by most of honest attorneys. You don’t want to be on the other side of the law with him. Annoying this man means not only chances to be disciplined, but losing reputation as well. There will be no new case, mark my words.

Unfortunately, judges like Mr. Shadur are rather exceptions.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: facts please

Hey, miserable bottom feeder, is your organ responsible for telling right from wrong atrophied? Seems so. You should know that many people that received subpoena notifications are innocent bystanders. You should know that they are going through hell right now since they are not cynical hypocrites as you are. People like you don?t hesitate bombing cities to kill a single adversary.

Any idea why I have a strong urge using hand sanitizer after reading your filth?

SteeleKrushersays:

Steele eats crap, SSDD!

The fact that John Steele is posting on the forums IS GOOD NEWS!

He is, in fact, desperate to maintain a state of FUD! Just like the aholes from USCG who said they’re driving to the courthouse in Florida to file a case, then they’ll file in Texas, etc. BS! John Steele is at the end of his rope! I do hope he still has enough to hang himself!

Jack Doesays:

One thing that I?m curious about: these ?lawyers? enraged thousands of folks. Statistically speaking, it is very likely that one of them is a nervous type. An as these ?lawyers? are profound amateurs when it comes to internets, their names, addresses, relatives etc are easily discoverable by merely googling. I?m wondering how these jerks can sleep well? I?m not advocating illegal activities, threats etc. but you get my point.

Anonymoussays:

bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaha

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT
CP?s counsel is ordered to appear in court on March 9, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. Counsel will be expected to discuss
what steps should be taken to apprise all of the targeted ?Doe? defendants that they will not be subject to any
further trouble or expense as a result of this ill-fated (as well as ill-considered) lawsuit.

STATEMENT
This Court has received still another motion by a ?Doe? defendant to quash a subpoena in this ill-considered lawsuit filed by CP Productions, Inc. (?CP?) against no fewer than 300 unidentified ?Doe? defendants ? this one seeking the nullification of a February 11, 2011 subpoena issued to Comcast Communications, LLC. This Court?s February 24,2011 memorandum opinion and order has already sounded the death knell for this action, which has abused the litigation system in more than one way.

But because the aggrieved Doe defendants continue to come out of the woodwork with motions to quash, indicating
an unawareness of this Court?s dismissal of this action, 1 CP?s counsel is ordered to appear in court on March 9, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. Counsel will be expected to discuss what steps should be taken to apprise all of the targeted ?Doe?defendants that they will not be subject to any further trouble or expense as a result of this ill-fated (as well as illconsidered)lawsuit.

Anonymous Cowardsays:

@Prissy – That could be because he promised they would make tons of money, and maybe oversold how easy and cheap it would be.

I expect most of these operations to be wrapping up soon.
The courts grow weary of clogged dockets and motions written by normal people who find themselves the target of these leeches.

Even the dumbest of these lawyers should have been able to find 1 sheep who wrote him a nasty reply and admitted he did it and demanded he come and get him, just to put a win into the record book. If they should trot around a win or 2, like Liberty Media Holdings tried to do, they might be able to create actual fear in more people and get them to cave.

Of course going into court means explaining how they got there in the first place, and a ruling against the “Proprietary IP Collection System” aka dude with print screen, would really devastate most of the extortion mills work.

Not all of them do the sort of hard work like LMH/CF does, matching their paying customers ip addresses against torrent uploaders. Makes it easier to serve the right people when they hand you all of their details. And they sit there and claim piracy is why they are loosing money, not the fact people are creeped out by how they treat paying customers.

Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re:

How did they find the poor sod who they got the $250,000 win against? whistles while you connect those dots

You know the win that is not actually a win at trial but a settlement agreement to avoid a trial against someone who was baffled by the “evidence”.

The agreement where as long as he pays them monthly and never ever does anything naughty on the internets ever again the reduce the amount he owes in the end.

Because CF sites would never disable the account of a paying customer to get them to call in, and then route that call to the lawyer… and make accusations that should raise questions about how customer data is being used.

Because LMH talked with an expert and no closeted teen when faced with being outed would ever consider suicide. I am still waiting for LMH to name the expert so people can review that license to practice of someone who has no concept of the real world.

I’m just an Anonymous Coward running around like a circus performer, spinning plates trying to keep young people from doing themselves harm because of the FUD LMH keeps putting out. I worry about those that can’t find the voice of reason and what they might do to themselves. Unlike the imaginary losses you seek to extort payment for, these lives have real value.

Anonymoussays:

Pretty sure that the CF “does” are associated with user ID’s from his site. The sad truth is that some of these legitimate ID’s could have been found on those sites that offer login and passwords for pay sites. Google it, there are plenty of them.

I looked up one of the ID’s in the suit, the associated IP addresses are from all over the world, on the same dates.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: John Steele AVN Interview September 2010

What a jerk! He is talking about technology as if he understands how stuff works. Also, he gives up his extortion techniques, not so different from ones collection agencies use.

We are going to create a resource to educate victims not to succumb to coercion. We are going crush this hive of racketeers using all the legal means possible. To fight a hyena you have to take off the gloves. It will be a little dirty, but fun for us. Fellow victims: stay tuned. Steele and others regardless of jurisdiction: stay scared.

Donnictonsays:

Huh

There is another interesting development in one of his other cases(First Time Videos LLC v. Does 1-500).

Apparently he is now calling for sanctions against the attorney of one of the defendants for “”abuse of judicial process”(lol?), because he referenced the CP Productions case. He?s calling for any references to CP Productions to be stricken from the court documents under the claim that he?s misleading the court in stating that the CP Productions case was for any other reason than the delays resulting in a Rule 4 judgment.

The judge?s quotes from this and Ars’ article seem to differ in that regard, however.

But he also goes on to say that ?Thompson?s actions are in bad faith because this Court only has limited time to review other judge?s dockets and the Order enclosed as an exhibit to Thompson?s motion does not explain the tangled procedural history that lead to the ruling.?

Am I wrong in reading that as ?Take my word for it, because the court shouldn?t have to waste time looking up the case?? It seems he really doesn’t want the other judges to see what happened.

The full document can be found here.

http://bitshare.com/files/qgvt85co/8447378-0–31648.pdf.html

Mark Lutzsays:

John Steele's team of crooks

Found this on another forum:

We all know John Steele is a CROOK. It appears he’s also employing people with a criminal record. Remember the guy who’s been calling and harassing you all daily. He’s Mark Lutz, and one of the phone numbers he used, 815-630-0490, is a Joliet, IL number. Also in Joliet resides a Mark Collins Lutz, who on peoplefinders.com shows up a 33 years old having previously resided in Milwaukee, WI – this is where the fun begins: Mark Collins Lutz is wanted in WI for damage to property, drug possession, disorderly conduct, etc. : http://wcca.wicourts.gov/caseDetails.do;jsessionid=3878208A957A9EEB72C27049C9E738C1.render6?caseNo=1997CM705062&countyNo=40&cacheId=B8E43CE3747AECB130653509C290AC2D&recordCount=6&offset=4&mode=details&submit=View+Case+Details

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