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: alan cooper, andrew waxler, brett gibbs, john steele, mark lutz, otis wright, paul duffy, paul hansmeier, peter hansmeier, served
Companies: af holdings, ingenuity 13, livewire, prenda, prenda law