Prenda Law Update: How Do You Serve An Alan Cooper Who Might Not Exist?

from the challenges,-challenges dept

Having taken a break from visiting the docket for the big Prenda showdown in California, I’d missed the latest interesting update in the case. As you may recall, Judge Otis Wright has ordered all of Team Prenda back to his court room on April 2nd, for what should be an entertaining hearing. Part of that order was a very explicit order to Brett Gibbs to serve everyone by the very next day, and to file proof of such service as of Monday of this week. Ken over at Popehat has the news on the proof of service explanation filed from Gibbs’ lawyers, who appear to have (smartly) done everything they possibly could to serve everyone listed as carefully as possible.

Ken notes one interesting tidbit is that the lawyer, who showed up in court representing John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy, told Gibbs’ lawyer, Andrew Waxler, that she was “unable to accept service” for those individuals. Ken’s response:

Normally, if you were trying to avoid a federal judge’s wrath, you’d be a little more cooperative than that. The refusal suggests to me that (1) they are trying to preserve their frankly specious lack-of-personal-jurisdiction argument, and/or (2) Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, and the paralegal aren’t cooperating with their counsel. You can stand on ceremony and insist on formal service, but all I can say is if Judge Wright were that mad at me, I’d want the proof of service to reflect that I happily accepted service to make things easier.

Another interesting question: how do you serve the “Alan Cooper of AF Holdings LLC” since most people are pretty sure that no such person exists? Well, here’s how:

Service on “Alan Cooper, of AF Holdings LLC.” The only “Alan Cooper” that we are aware of appeared in Court on March 11th. I understand that he claims that he is not affiliated with AF Holdings. We further understand that Mr. Steele may contend otherwise. In any event, since we know of no other Alan Cooper than the person that appeared in Court, I reached an agreement with his attorney, Paul Godfread, that I can serve “Alan Cooper” via email only care of Mr. Godfread’s email address…. Pursuant to that agreement, we served Mr. Cooper c/o Mr. Godfread on March 15th. Mr. Godfread did acknowledge receipt of the email when he wrote back with the following remarks: “Please note that I do not represent Alan Cooper of AF Holdings. I only represent Alan Cooper of Isle, MN. I do not accept service on behalf of Alan Cooper of AF Holdings. I not agree to accept service on behalf of Alan Cooper of AF Holdings. Please also note that the most recent order specifically does not order my client, Alan Cooper of Isle, MN to appear.”

Got that? So they serve the real Alan Cooper, who says he’s not the fake Alan Cooper, and the judge has already made it clear that the real Alan Cooper need not appear. Steele may argue that these Alan Coopers are one and the same, but that’s going to be quite a mountain to climb, convincing anyone that this Alan Cooper was actually a representative of AF Holdings.

As for the others? They served John Steele at his last known Florida residence (though I’ve heard he’s moved elsewhere) as well as at a variety of different email addresses, though some of them bounced. They served Paul Hansemeir similarly, and after a number of bounced emails, did receive at least some sort of confirmation that a somewhat generic email address was “Paul’s email address.” As for Paul Duffy, they sent the letter to his last known address and email address — which did not bounce. Paralegal Angela Van Den Hemel was similarly served, though somehow (it is not clear how) notified them that the email address they used is “no longer active.” Mark Lutz — whose name was remarkably absent during the first big Prenda trial (and who, unlike the others, appears to never have even replied to the original order) was also served similarly — but they also left voice mails for him to get him to confirm his address. Lutz never returned the calls or acknowledged the emails, but not all of the emails bounced (same deal as with Peter Hansmeier).

For the companies, they just served the relevant principles: Duffy for Prenda Law and Steele Hansmeier, Lutz for Livewire, AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13.

At this point, it will be difficult for anyone to claim they were not properly served, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try.

Either way, given their reactions to date, I’m curious how many people are actually going to show up in court on April 2nd.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , , ,
Companies: af holdings, ingenuity 13, livewire, prenda, prenda law

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Prenda Law Update: How Do You Serve An Alan Cooper Who Might Not Exist?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

He has offered them 2 chances to answer questions raised in his courtroom.
He made it clear if they were to not attend his second invitation, he would consider those actions as answers to his questions.

They could have stood before the Judge and tap danced and plead the 5th, to outright behave like petulant children they are hoping he will get very angry and make an error they can cling tenaciously to in the vain hope of escape.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Ok Mike don’t miss this either. The answers to the remaining defamation suits were filed.

I fully expect that no one but Gibbs will show up and they might try the phoning it it gambit again. And I think that Judge Wright will phone it in, phone in a request for Marshals to assist them in finding their way to his court room.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re: It's all very clear now.

You don’t think this is why the Judge ordered the Corporations served as well, do you?

Thus, the Court amends its February 7, 2013 Order to Show Cause (ECF No. 48) to include sanctions against the persons and entities in subparagraphs a?m below:


h) Prenda Law, Inc.;

i) Livewire Holdings LLC;

j) Steele Hansmeier PLLC;

k) AF Holdings LLC;

l) Ingenuity 13 LLC; and

m) 6881 Forensics, LLC.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It's all very clear now.

It most likely was an attempt to unmask the figures behind them and get them or their representatives to appear.

It also illustrated quite plainly to the others on the list, he knows most, not all, of the players involved in this little game they have going.

There are other names, but there has been no evidence in court introducing them yet… but I’m sure someone will make sure to give them a very through investigation before to long. On the upside, the names allegedly behind those names were already summoned to the party.

MD says:


The trouble is, eventually the people that DO exist will show up in court – with or without handcuffs. Then they will have to answer questions like “describe the circumstances under which you interacted with the alleged ‘Cooper’ ?”

I wonder what happens when they plead the fifth at that point? I imagine filing false court dcuments with an assumed / stolen identity is a form of perjury; and charged with that, they will have to either produce a Cooper or bunk with Bubba.

After all, if they show up and cooperate, they’d probably get a few years plus fines plus loss of licenses; plus those false court docunet charges, identity theft, etc. If they are difficult the outcome probably won’t be any worse, they just have more time to hide assets.

Screwed now, or screwed in a few months… decisions, decisions.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Dodging court served papers does happen. Keeping in mind how abused the court system can be so its a strategy. However here we have a case where the court itself may think there’s evidence of abuse and is ready to ferret out the exact details, identify the source(s), and the process has already started.

If they don’t show it would be bad and look bad for any lawyer who, by just being a lawyer in good standing, are unavoidably available just dealing with normal client business. Not being able to respond quickly to the usual demands from new clients, defense or prosecution staff and typical timely court filings would ruin any law firm.

They either have their shingle out swinging out on the front lawn (and active phone numbers, web address, etc.) or they don’t.

It possible they are counting on only daily fines being levied for a no show on April 2nd. Its possible that they want to attend a smaller hearing, by suffering a few days of fines and criticism for lame excuses, rather than the likely three ring circus on the 2nd.

They may even be counting on the O’l boy network by trying for a private meeting in the judges chambers. However harsh the judge might treat them it would still be out the the public eye. This would also give the advantage of not having to show up with everyone else. (whom some are obviously hostile parties)

Of course if warrants are issued for contempt of court they might show up the very next day or so and in the morning also so as to assure a prompt hearing possibly/hopefully avoiding incarceration. This would also allow some to escape the wild party on the 2nd but only at such a cost.

Then again of course they could always try to run…

Or they might try a scapegoat. ?It was all his idea!?, ?take one for the team boy? (just a few possibilities of course)

Ultimately there will likely be a trial date. The charges are still being examined. This could take months maybe even years. Verdict: the stores will sell a lot of popcorn and butter.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...