Team Prenda Slammed Again, Found In Contempt; Judge Blasts Their Attempts To Plead Poverty
from the nice try, guys dept
It’s been a little while since we had a Team Prenda update, but suffice it to say, judges still don’t seem to be buying their brand of bullshit, even as they get more and more desperate. The latest is the followup in the Lightspeed case in which Team Prenda made the incredibly poorly thought-out move of dragging Comcast and AT&T into the proceedings. Not only did Judge Patrick Murphy find that Team Prenda flat out lied to the court, he hit them with an order to pay $261,025.11 in attorneys’ fees for wasting everyone’s time.
Team Prenda has been avoiding paying that ever since. There was an amusing hearing back in February in which they weakly sought to justify the non-payment, first quibbling with Judge David Herndon that the original order to pay up was a “money judgment” rather than an order, in the belief that this would give them more flexibility in paying. That ridiculous argument was more or less dismissed out of hand by Judge Herndon quickly. Following that, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier specifically tried to plead poverty, arguing that they simply couldn’t pay the amount. Judge Herndon said, effectively, okay: prove it. And while they filed documents that attempt to prove that, Judge Herndon is not buying it at all. In a ruling earlier this week finding Paul Duffy, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier in contempt, Herndon noted that even in filing financial statements, it appeared they were trying to deceive the court:
In the case where there has been no attempt to comply with the Court’s order, plaintiff’s counsel must show a “complete inability to pay.” …
Plaintiff’s counsel, “stated differently, . . . [has] the burden of establishing clearly, plainly, and unmistakably that compliance is impossible.” ….
The Court finds that plaintiff’s counsel has not met its burden. They submitted incomplete, and to say the least suspicious, statements of financial condition. Attached to each statement was a letter from their certified public accountant (“CPA”). In these letters, the CPA indicates a departure from generally accepted accounting principles. He further notes that plaintiff’s counsel elected to omit substantially all of the disclosures required by generally accepted accounting principles. The Court finds these statements insufficient to establish plaintiff’s counsel’s inability to pay.
Given all that, he notes that Team Prenda “significantly violated an unambiguous order of the Court” and has tacked on an additional 10% to the original order, giving them until March 31st to pay up… or the amount will keep going up at $500 per attorney per day (so $1,500 more per day). After another 30 days, the amount will increase to $1,000 per attorney per day. Hansmeier is already begging for a reconsideration, but given how many times these guys have been called out for attempted deceptions in court, it seems unlikely he’s going to have much luck.